Niklas Süle could win his 30th cap for Germany in Wednesday’s friendly against Denmark (21:00 CEST). The defender spoke to DFB.de about preparing for EURO 2020, the tough group stage and playing in front of fans again.
DFB.de: Mr. Süle, how important would a successful friendly against Denmark be with regards to your EURO 2020 preparations?
Niklas Süle: Every game and training session we have before the opening game against France is extremely important. We can get to know each other more and test out what we’ve worked on in training. We’ve worked hard during the training camp and I think we’ve made a good start.
DFB.de: Denmark have often been described as the dark horses for this tournament. They remained unbeaten during the qualification campaign and finished second ahead of England and Iceland in their Nations League group. Is this friendly a good test for you?
Süle: Denmark have a number of players who play in Germany or across Europe’s top leagues. We played them before the 2017 Confederations Cup and drew 1-1. We will take this game very seriously. It will be a good test for us. With regard to the tournament, the game isn’t that important, mainly because it’s in the middle of our training camp.
DFB.de: Your progress has been setback by injuries in recent years. You tore your ACL in October 2019 and strained a muscle in April this year. How fit do you feel right now?
Süle: I’ve worked really hard and I used the final two quarantine matchdays wisely with Bayern. I’ve had small setbacks regarding my muscles in the last two, three months. I wouldn’t say that I’m at 100% yet, but I’m on the right path to be fully fit for the France game.
DFB.de: National coach Joachim Löw recently revealed that you are doing some extra sessions to help your body out. What do they consist of exactly?
Süle: I’m doing a little extra for my body and my knee. You have to do stuff for your body when you’ve torn your ACL twice, whether it’s physio, strength training or running. I might go for a few more runs than the others, but it’s not important because everyone is working hard. However, when the others had a day off, I trained with Bayern. I’m starting to catch up.
DFB.de: Mats Hummels, a 2014 World Cup winner, has returned to the squad, while Antonio Rüdiger won the Champions League with Chelsea last week. Is the current competition for places at centre-back greater than it has been in recent years?
Süle: There’s always competition for places in the national team, especially now there’s 26 players in the squad. Everyone wants to play, so it’s nothing new.
DFB.de: You’ve featured at right-back occasionally for FC Bayern. Is that an option as well for Germany?
Süle: Considering I played there for the first time this year, I think I did a solid job. Others would have to decide if I will play for Germany, though. I’ll play where the coach wants me and I’ll help the team out however I can so we can become European champions.
DFB.de: Have the dynamics in the squad changed since Thomas Müller and Mats Hummels returned?
Süle: I haven’t noticed so. I’ve known the pair of them for a long time and it just feels like they were never away. It’s not like players here feel more important than others. We’re just happy to have them back as players and guys.
DFB.de: Germany have been handed with the so-called group of death at EURO 2020, being drawn alongside France, Portugal and Hungary. Is such a strong group a problem or could it actually help you be fully on it from the first game?
Süle: Starting off such a hard group with a positive result against the world champions France would give us a real boost and that could be really important for the rest of the tournament. As a result, our first game is vital. The group could help us by giving us some confidence. We shouldn’t fear teams with the squad we’ve got. We’ve got the quality to achieve a lot.
DFB.de: You’ve already faced France’s Kylian Mbappe and Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo in the Champions League. How can you stop players like that?
Süle: You can only do it as a team. We need to attack and defend with 11 players. Going up against Kylian Mbappe in a one-on-one over a large space is obviously difficult. If you defend as a team and believe you won’t concede, while playing attacking football, it’s not too important who is playing for them. If we play as a team, we’ve got the players to hurt opponents too.
DFB.de: Who is your favourite for the tournament?
Süle: As reigning World Cup winners, France are obviously one of the favourites. They’ve got huge depth in their squad and a number of world-class players. Portugal, the current holders, are also a really good team. We’ll know where we’re at after playing those two sides in the group stage. We have to cope with these teams if we want to be successful.
DFB.de: Are Germany one of the favourites?
Süle: Germany are always one of the favourites.
DFB.de: Many people are hoping that the group games in Munich will be played in front of some big crowds. How important would the return of fans be to you?
Süle: It would be really important for us. You saw the impact they can have during the Champions League final. Games in front of fans allow the players to reach a whole new level – it’s just so much more enjoyable. I think the fans could give us an extra percent or two because we’ve not played in front of them for so long. We really miss them.
DFB.de: Will football change when fans return? The players won’t be able to hear each other as easily on the pitch and younger players might have to get used to it?
Süle: I don’t think much will change about the game. We always managed to communicate in front of 80,000 fans. Your body language helps there. I think my body language is better when I’m playing in front of 80,000. It will be a great experience for younger players to play with fans in the grounds. It will still be strange for the lads who have only seen empty stadiums so far, but I adapted quickly back then and so will they.
DFB.de: The national side are effectively in a bubble during EURO 2020 and won’t have much contact with the outside world. How difficult is that?
Süle: It’s obviously not easy. For me personally, it’s the first time that I will be away from my girlfriend and son for so long. Thankfully, I can still FaceTime them. We’re happy to be able to do our jobs and to take part in an amazing tournament – especially in our own country. A lot of my Bayern teammates are in the national team and we’re like a family anyway. We all get on really well and we’ve got enough to keep us busy. We won’t get bored.