The first two internationals of the year are just around the corner, as Germany get set to face Israel on Saturday (20:45 CET) before travelling to Amsterdam to face the Netherlands on Tuesday (20:45 CET). Thomas Müller and Matthias Ginter spoke to the media about the team’s first camp of the year and their impressions so far. DFB.de have summed up the key quotes from today’s press conference.
...the World Cup: A year with a World Cup is something special, and the excitement is rising. We’re in a bit of a different situation this time. Normally, the tournament is fast approaching by the end of March. Last autumn was a good one for us; we were in good form with seven wins. We want to keep that going now. We also know that we have put that all behind us, as we always have to prove ourselves again. In June we still have Nations League games to play, which are pretty prestigious given the nature of the competition. We want to deliver a good showing of ourselves there. So far, we haven’t really faced any top-quality opponents, but we will start to have more in the near future. Our focus isn’t on November just yet, but rather on the here and now. If I’m preparing for a year with a World Cup, then I’m thinking even more about where I can improve or what I can do in order to be 100% or 101% ready when that day comes.
...his goal tally for the national team: Normally I’m pretty well informed about my personal stats. I didn’t know that I’m just a goal shy of equalling Uwe Seeler’s tally. Of course I would like to score in the upcoming games. Being on the same level as these legendary players is definitely something special that you wouldn’t have ever dreamed of as a kid.
...his role during his fourth World Cup: Ahead of this World Cup, I have a bit more experience than some of the other players around me. My style of play has also developed further. As someone who plays in a central position, I’m able to deal with quick players that look to penetrate through the centre. I’m in more of central position now than I was in 2018, for example, when I was playing more off to the side. I know Hansi Flick extremely well, which is why I understand his ideas and what he wants to see. I know what to expect and what I want to do and I feel comfortable doing it. We will be able to see afterwards whether it was good or not.
...potential keys to winning the World Cup: During those moments in the tournament when things get tough, we will not only need to be able to overcome them and have the quality to be prepared for moments like that, but also that little bit of luck. We also need to be confident in our decision-making, and maybe be a bit arrogant as well. We managed to overcome some tough moments in 2014, against the USA, Algeria, France and Argentina. We didn’t manage that at the World Cup in 2018. We had a chance to advance against South Korea. You can’t predict what will happen, but when Germany travel to a tournament, then anything can happen in 90 minutes. We have to be prepared for that. We need to continue to strengthen and fine-tune our philosophy. We will have to wait and see whether or not we will be successful, but we definitely want to set our sights on winning the World Cup.
...his future with the national team: I wouldn’t go as far to say that I’ll keep playing until my legs give out. I have a responsibility to myself as well. As long as I can play at the top level and make a difference, then I will still want to continue playing. As long as the head coach of the national team wants to call me up, then I will consider it. Until then, I don’t see it coming to an end yet. But, I also don’t want to keep playing until everyone starts saying “It’s time to stop.” It’s hard to find the right time, however.
...playing alongside Kai Havertz: Hansi Flick has plenty of options in attack and lots of players with different qualities to choose from. Kai Havertz has delivered some strong performances as the lone striker up top for Chelsea. It’s important for us to have such versatile players. Kai can play anywhere in attack. We get on well both on and off the pitch, but that also goes for all the other attackers in our squad.
...where the team stand in regards to their competitors: You have a bit of a gut feeling for where the team are in comparison to the competition. However, you can never be 100% certain. Right now, we feel pretty good and came out of our recent games having scored 33 times and conceded just twice. No matter who our opponents are, we can draw confidence from that. We will have a different idea depending on how the Nations League goes for us.
…his state of mind in a World Cup year: Everyone is ready, motivated and I am no exception. We have a lot of work to do, including in the two friendlies against Israel and the Netherlands. We have some crunch matches leading up to November. This will get us into the swing of things and is the best possible preparation for the World Cup.
…communicating with the coach about his future: Of course I have spoken to the head coach about it. We are in communication. When it becomes more concrete then we will speak about it again. I obviously take on board what he has to say, but in the end it is my decision.
…his desire to win titles: I want to win as many titles as possible and gain as much experience in the big games as I can. That has somewhat happened in the last few years. But I am not resting on what has gone before and I am hungry to win as much as possible. The big tournaments also count towards this but there is still a long way to go.
…the absence of some of the regular players: Injuries and absences are just a part of sport. That has always been the case, even in the successful tournaments. It felt like half the team was missing in 2014. Of course it would help if everyone was fit but you can’t rule out injuries. It is important to stick to the task and continue the process in the hope that everyone will be fit for the World Cup.
…possible leaders in defence: The roles in football have changed in the last few years. There are no longer just one or two leaders. Now it’s about communicating and helping each other. All players are required to contribute, coach and take on responsibility.
…Nico Schlotterbeck: He’s doing great things in Freiburg; he’s playing well with the team and putting in strong individual performances. Nico has a big future ahead of him if he keeps on doing what he’s doing.###more###