After the 1-1 draw against Spain, Germany have the World Cup last 16 in their sights. On Thursday (20:00 CET), Hansi Flick’s side take on Costa Rica and require a decisive win in order to qualify for the knockout stages. Front men Thomas Müller and Niclas Füllkrug spoke amongst other things about the pressure, their role models and the game against Costa Rica during their press conference at Germany’s team quarters. DFB.de have written down their most important answers.
...the game against Costa Rica: I think looking from the outside we are favourites. We are completely clear that we have to win. The game against Japan had nothing to do with the 7-0 loss against Spain. They played well positionally and were also brave on the ball. They never left their defensive structure, so first of all we have to score a goal. At the moment we have to be very humble looking at the table. There are not many reasons to be euphoric. What can bring a smile to our lips is the fact that we have the opportunity to reach the last 16 and to show the footballing world what we are made of.
...the approach against Costa Rica: At the end of the day, it is up to the coaching team to decide the way we approach the game. It is important that they look at the other game in order to adapt the strategy slightly. As players, however, we don’t want to look at the other game too much. It is important that we play well positionally and are secure against the counter. We have to make lots of runs and changes of position, runs from deep that often don’t come off to pull opponents out of positions.
...the pressure on the last group game: The Spain game was already a high pressure situation. In the end, we all know what we have to do and have to show that we can also perform on the pitch. I don’t have the feeling that bad results or performances are due to nervousness. We all know pressure situations and can deal with them. We just need a few moments of magic. Lots of games are on a knife edge.
...the question of who plays up front against Costa Rica: "Fülle" has the number nine shirt in any case. With regards to the line-up and tactics, you will have to ask the head coach. We have a lot of good attacking players in the squad. It is mostly about playing well and occupying the box. Not only one man will be responsible in doing that. It will definitely be a different type of game stylistically to against Spain. We can be excited about what the coaching team comes up with. Niclas has shown that he knows where the goal is.
...the important moments from the tournament: I think it’s really positive that we’ve been able to implement things that allow us to compete at a high level. We’re expecting a different opponent in Costa Rica, so we can’t take too much across with us. We’ll have to see whether that goal against Spain will serve as loosening the knot for the rest of the tournament. We need moments like that during the tournament but more often than we’ve had recently. Currently, it does feel as if Niclas’ goal could be that alleviation that we needed. However, we can’t just buy that as the cure. Against Spain, we showed attributes that were missing in the first game. That was because of the importance of the game and how crucial it was to play a certain way; it was football at the highest level with a lot of tempo to the game. We weren’t the most clinical we could have been in the final third, but we played as a unit and had a level of intensity that we need to bring to this next game if we want to progress.
...his last World Cup: That thought cropped up shortly after the Japan game. The camp lit up during the Costa Rica-Japan match. We watched the game together and were able to take those emotions across into the Spain game. By beating Costa Rica, we’ve got a good chance of reaching the Round of 16 and so that original thought I spoke about has flown right out of the window.
...his role in the team: It has been the same over the last few years. I try to get ahead, to share information and to showcase how far you can go and what you need to invest in order to be a successful team. At the end of the day, as an attacking player, you’re judged on the number of goal contributions you make. In training, I’ve been accurate but I’m not happy with my performances on the pitch up to this point.
...the comparisons to the 2010 and 2014 sides: Every team has a different character and different expectations. I see a few parallels to the side in 2010. In 2014, we were in that clear circle of favourites in a way that we're not so much this year. We can beat anyone on our day, but we aren’t able to control every game; we were better at that before. We can go toe-to-toe with the big names just as we showed against Spain.
...the atmosphere in the squad: The overall atmosphere is good, but you could notice a difference after that game. After the Spain game, the energy in camp felt that much better. We will now approach our game preparation with the right attitude and necessary caution. If we work together and everyone is disciplined on the pitch, then we won’t only get the results but we will play a certain way that will come across in a positive way to those on the outside.
... Mario Götze: He’s doing well and I’m excited that he is here in Qatar. We had a good connection with one another at Bayern and we stayed in contact. He was really impressive during his time at PSV and, now, the German public have the ability to reacquaint themselves with his quality. We all wait for our chances and are ready for them when they come.
...his expectations against Costa Rica: They have shown two sides of themselves at this point. The game against Spain is difficult to evaluate. Whilst against Japan they were an unpleasant side to play against, and we assume that’ll be the case again when we play them. We can’t be caught napping. We need to be strong at the back and capitalize on the chances that we get.
...the game against Spain: Over the course of the game, we started to have a better feeling about everything because we got the equaliser and didn't concede. The atmosphere is a good one and we’re excited for the final group stage game. We have to win even though Costa Rice will be a tough team to face. It’s going to take a top performance to make it to the knockout stages.
...his reserved style in interviews: The game was a step in the right direction. We’ve taken on things that we’re not known for. That game has given us energy but we can’t take anything for granted. It’s completely in our hands and so there is no justification to jump for joy at this moment in time.
...Costa Rica beating Japan: I’m a fan of focussing on ourselves because it would not have done us any good if we had not done own our job in the evening. I didn’t watch the game completely. At the end though, I did celebrate the result because it gave us a realistic chance of progressing.
...Thomas Müller: Hansi Flick previously made clear what his role would be. Thomas is definitely a top player and performs an important role off the pitch as well. He trains with vigorous concentration and I can confirm the accuracy that he has.
...becoming a World Cup hero: We’re extremely excited as the national team to get that level of support. As a striker, I’m regularly in that situation where I’m often seen as the hero, and the defenders and playmakers aren’t given the credit. That’s why I don’t see myself as a hero.
...his celebration and role models: I’m not a massive celebrator of goals because, as you saw with the game against Japan, at the end of the game you might not have done what you needed to do. I looked at Miroslav Klose a lot. But beyond him, I’ve been trying to go down my own path and to be my own unique player. So in that regard, I don’t have a major idol.