After the 2-2 draw against France, the U21 side are preparing for their last official international fixture before the European Championship in Italy and San Marino (16-30th June). In a DFB.de interview, Arne Maier looks towards the game in Bournemouth against England on Tuesday (20:45 CET) and talks about the meaning of the Germany youth teams in his development.
DFB.de: Arne Maier, what did you make of the draw against France?
Arne Maier: Overall we were positive after the game. We played with a new formation involving a back three and the experiment was successful. Straight away in the first half we were completely dominant and could have gotten two or three more goals. Unfortunately the luck just wasn’t there for us. In the second half you could see what an amazing team the French have. They started playing with more pressure and, as a result, we were pushed onto the back foot. The vast amount of substitutions then broke up the game a lot and made it feel fairly disjointed. The draw was a pretty good result.
DFB.de: You came into the game in a rather unfamiliar position - at the centre of the back three. What did you make of the new position?
Maier: Of course the role was completely new for me. Before the game I spoke a lot with the coach and he explained to me how he imagined me playing in the game. That helped me a lot. The game was really good I think, despite the unfamiliar role. Plus the new position is good for developing my defensive abilities, which is no bad thing (laughs).
DFB.de: Then on Tuesday comes the next big test for the U21s – a clash against England in Bournemouth...
Maier: That will be a similarly high class game. England and France are, at the moment, probably the best U21 teams and so it makes a lot of sense that we are going up against the strongest teams ahead of the European Championship to see where we stand. We’ve already heard that the stadium is sold out and hopefully it will be a very enjoyable game for the fans.
DFB.de: You’ve been involved in all the youth teams from U15 to U20 and have been playing with lots of players from the senior team. How important is all that for your personal development?
Maier: Those experiences are extremely important. It’s only when you measure yourself against strong players and teams that you can really develop yourself. It doesn’t help to just play against easy opponents and plateau. You get the pride of playing for your country and play against these other great nations. It’s an honour to be a part of every youth team and the U21s is no different.
DFB.de: Do any specific memories come to mind?
Maier: I can’t think of a specific game or experience. I’ve had great coaches during my time with DFB, such as Frank Engel, Meikel Schönweitz and now with Stefan Kuntz. We played a really good U17 European Championship in 2016 in Azerbaijan but were unlucky in the semi-final against Spain. We missed qualification for the U19 Euros last year. Even if these experiences could be bitter, they develop you as a player because you try harder to not make the same mistakes. As a young player you remember certain mistakes, and when you learn how to deal with them, you become a better footballer.