Three World Cup qualifiers in seven days lie ahead of the German national team. The first test against Liechtenstein will take place on Thursday in St. Gallen, Switzerland, followed by a visit from Armenia in Stuttgart on Sunday and a trip to Rekjavik to face Iceland the following Wednesday (all kick off at 20:45 CEST). Ahead of the three games, captain Manuel Neuer and national coach Hansi Flick’s coaching staff have been talking to the press about the team’s targets and expectations.
Manuel Neuer on...
... the first steps after the EURO 2020 campaign: It’s a new start with new faces. We’re in a situation where we have to make up lost ground. We have high targets, especially in respect of the world cup. We want to qualify first of all, and make a good start with the new coaching staff. We want to win three games and we’re all very motivated. We want to use this time to communicate with one another and get to know the new players. I want to become world champions with this team, even if it won’t be an easy process.
... the first time being without Joachim Löw: It’s already an odd situation to come here and not see Jogi Löw after such a long time, but also for me specifically as andy Köpke isn’t goalkeeper coach here anymore. I first met Hansi Flick when he was assistant coach of the national team, and of course I know him well from our time at FC Bayern together, so it’s nothing too new. He’s a very communicative coach, who is always on the same level as the players.
... the hierarchy in the squad: I’ve been calling Hansi Flick constantly to share my views with him. I’m interested to know how he sees things. We’ll have lots of discussions when he gets here. One person alone can’t lead a squad – we are all responsible, and we are all taking that responsibility on.
... the mood in the camp: The players are all excited to be back together again, hopefully to get positive results. Hopefully this positive mood is reflected outside the squad in the fans and that they’re excited to see the national team once again.
... making amends after the EUROs: It’s important that we are one unit on the pitch and that we’re focussed and active when we play. We have to show that we are a hungry team on the pitch.
... on the pitch: It’s always important to have an axis in the middle of the park. We have come to a new start point. When you want to improve and develop bit by bit, you need to have the right structure.
... the future of the squad: Italy is a good example to follow, as they were fun to watch in the EUROs. We have to do the same thing as them. When I look at our team I know how much potential we have, even if we haven’t reached that level in the last few tournaments. We need to bring everything we need onto the pitch.
... EURO 2024 as a personal goal: It would be a dream come true for me, but I would need to stay fit and healthy until then. Even then, I have to be there on merit, and I want to have the feeling that I am needed there. It’s too far away to speak about it properly. The World Cup and the upcoming games are more important to me now.
... a possible new playing style: I can imagine that Hansi Flick will want to play the style of football that he had so much success with at Bayern. I think it will be important to be active with and without the ball, and put our opponents under pressure from early on. That said, we’ll see more details in the next few days.
Assistant coach Danny Röhl on...
...training: We are focussing on three things: finding our rhythm, intensity and activity on and off the pitch. That is our plan for the first week. Transitions and how active we are after losing the ball and when the opposition are in possession will be another thing we work on. We want to press as a team and play with conviction. The crucial thing is what happens when we win the ball, and that comes down to courage.
...working with Hansi Flick: We share the same ideas about the game, and we have to convey those to the team. We will work on that over the next few days, but, with the quality we have in the squad, I am convinced we can do it.
Assistant coach Marcus Sorg on...
...the new coaching staff: It’s normal to have to implement certain things with a new head coach. We will try to convey these to the players and let them know what is expected of them.
Set-piece coach Mads Buttgereit on...
...his role: We want to practise set-pieces but also all sorts of other things. You can go into great detail with set-pieces. The key is getting the players involved, which is an ongoing objective. We have to give them the incentive to go back to their clubs and keep working on everything, which will lead to improvements in the end. The environment we have here is very conducive to innovation.
Goalkeeping coach Andreas Kronenberg on...
...training: It’s about giving the goalkeepers confidence as quickly as possible. If we get to know each other quickly then what happens on the pitch will be automatic.
...Manuel Neuer: I get the feeling that he is eager to learn and I am confident that they will be open to new incentives. Communication with Toni Tapalovic (goalkeeping coach at Bayern München) will be important to keep developing and, even with a player like Manuel Neuer, help him reach another level.