Captain Neuer: “Every opponent; Mexico, Sweden and South Korea were all waiting for us to make a mistake.”
The dream of retaining the World Cup ended unexpectedly early last night. The 2-0 loss to South Korea in the final group game sent Germany packing. Captain Manuel Neuer talked to DFB.de about the premature exit and discussed his future in the national team at 32 years of age.
DFB.de: Mr. Neuer, what did you make of this World Cup performance?
Manuel Neuer: We need to analyse it all once we’ve calmed down. But it has to be said that we just didn’t deserve it. We didn’t perform like Germany should in any one of our three games. When you beat Sweden 2-1 in the 95th minute and lose your other two games without really creating any scoring opportunities and without putting the opposition under pressure, then you just don’t merit a place in the knockout phase. Any side would be confident playing us in the last 16. How are we meant to intimidate an opponent when we can’t even perform properly?
DFB.de: Why weren’t Germany their usual selves?
Neuer: It was the same team on the pitch, but we didn’t step up to the challenge. We didn’t have enough respect for the gravitas of the tournament. Every opponent, Mexico, Sweden and South Korea were all waiting for us to make a mistake. They knew they would get their chances. In recent tournaments, whether the Euros or the World Cup, we were never like that. We let ourselves down in all three games. Why? I just don’t know. But we need to take responsibility for it. We screwed up. We all screwed it up.
DFB.de: The coach talked about wanting to cultivate a sense of confidence and pride before the Mexico game. Did you feel that way?
Neuer: Yes, absolutely. I think that before a tournament begins, you never really know where you stand. We were actually totally and utterly motivated. We wanted to give everything on the pitch. The World Cup only comes around every four years and you really look forward to this enormous event. You work so hard to get there, to be selected for the games. I have never seen or experienced Germany perform like that let alone get knocked out in the group stages.
DFB.de: Is there anything you feel personally responsible for as captain?
Neuer: I always tried to take responsibility. I tried to carry the whole team and motivate every player, in the dressing room, in training and on the pitch. But of course I’m one of the team and I’m partly to blame.
DFB.de: Can you guarantee that you’ll keep playing?
Neuer: I have no intention to stop.
DFB.de: Did die Mannschaft lack a bit of freedom?
Neuer: Our tempo and confidence in counter situations, turnovers and when playing box-to-box was all a bit too lethargic. We were too slow, we never properly threatened our opponents. We’re normally outstanding at passing into space. But this time, it just wasn’t the case. During qualification, we created chances and scored goals, but over the last two weeks we seemed to forget how. Of course we had chances, we hit the woodwork several time, but were never forceful enough.
DFB.de: In the last minute of extra time, why was the goalkeeper involved in a throw-in and not supporting play from the back?
Neuer: I mean we were 1-0 down after 96 minutes. We still thought there was a glimmer of hope. I wanted to involve the wingers, but I admit now it was a mistake.###more###