After meeting up on Monday, the German National team completed their first training session of this international break. Thomas Müller, Jonas Hofmann and Antonio Rüdiger spoke to the media afterwards about the team’s preparations for the World Cup qualifiers, firstly at home to Romania in Hamburg and then away to North Macedonia. DFB.de has all the latest.
... the start of the Hansi Flick era: The games I’ve seen have been super. I was in Stuttgart for the game against Armenia, and the game, the goals and the atmosphere were all top-tier. The team were able to carry that momentum on against Iceland. We saw some great moves and kept a clean sheet. We know that not every opponent is going to be of the highest calibre, but that’s always been the case and we had our own problems then. We’ve got some good momentum going into these games, so we want to keep that going.
... expectations from the starting XI: We don’t have a guarantee to play, but we’ve been given the opportunity to do so. We’re part of a group of players who want to be synonymous with ‘Die Mannschaft’ when someone thinks about it. There’s a certain boost which always comes with the arrival of a new coach, and we’re experiencing that now. There is depth for every position in the squad and we’ve seen that there are excellent options in the attacking positions. Everyone wants to play, myself included.
... his career plan: Everyone who’s ever made plans will know, looking back, that only a few of them ever become a reality. I’m concentrating on the next two weeks right now, and that’s the furthest forward I’m looking. From my perspective, the World Cup really isn’t far away. It’s a very short cycle after the EUROs – we’ll have another tournament ahead of us in just a year. I hope that I’ll be in a position to be able to help the team; that’s my goal. I’m happy to be here and I want to put my stamp on my time here. That said, you can always want to do something, but you need to put yourself into it. I’m focused on that now.
... a good team spirit: Everyone should give themselves targets for their performance and put everything into it to be successful. An evening with the team is all well and good, but that’s not the main priority. I’ve never seen a team go out for drinks one night and play well the next day. The most important thing is that the performance on the pitch is good, as every player needs to put the ideas of the coach into practice.
... the start under Flick: The start against Liechtenstein was pretty average, but the last two games were pretty significant. We want to keep going and carry on getting used to the new system and the expectations of the coaches.
... his earliest World Cup memories: That would’ve been the 2002 World Cup. I was a big fan of Ronaldo and had the same haircut as him – I didn’t have many friends on the day of the final (laughs)!
... Niklas Sule: It’s important to get used to playing together. We’ve trained together for a long time; he’s a great partner in the defence. I really like playing together with him.
... the new style of play: The system is already pretty familiar to a lot of the players in the team, as they also press high and play quickly in their teams at their clubs. It’s a good thing to press opponents into making mistakes, because then you have the ball much more closely to their goal and much more space to work in. We have to decide the game, not the opponents.
... the team: We’ve all know each other for a pretty long time, either from our clubs or the national team itself. It’s clear that our coach will also bring us closer together – you notice that the team spirit is getting better with every step we take.
... the upcoming games: We want to carry on where we left off in September. We’ll still talk about the things we can do better on, though.
... his new position at full-back: When you can offer a coach many different opportunities and are flexible about where you can play on the pitch, the chance that he lets you onto the pitch goes up. In the summer I spoke with Hansi Flick about the idea, and made it clear to him that I trusted myself to do that. I want to be as well-prepared as possible – that was a demand I made to myself. I’ve tried to look at others to see what they’re doing differently to me. My biggest challenge is keeping my desire to push forward under control, which I don’t need to do as much in more attacking positions.
... versatile footballers: That’s a player who can play in many different positions, offering the coach a lot of different possibilities. I once played in four different positions in a game a couple of years ago, because of different players getting subbed on. It’s an absolute positive for me.