Germany manager Joachim Löw has called up Jonathan Tah for the first time. The Leverkusen defender is part of a 27-man squad for the international friendlies on 26th March (20:45 CET) against England in Berlin and on 29th March (20:45 CEST) against Italy in Munich. Alongside the 23 outfield players, Löw has called up four goalkeepers to the squad: Manuel Neuer, Bernd Leno, Marc ter Stegen and Kevin Trapp.
"With Jerome Boateng and Benedikt Höwedes injured, we wanted to try different options in defence. We have watched Jonathan Tah quite a lot recently and we’re eager to see how he gets on in the squad,” said the Germany manager following Tah’s call-up.
The 20-year-old is the only debutant in the squad, with Löw opting for more proven players for the two tough friendlies. The match comes too soon for the Dortmund midfielder Ilkay Gündogan, who has recently recovered from a bruised foot. Mario Götze and Bastian Schweinsteiger both make the squad despite only recently returning from long-term injuries. “They have made progress with their clubs following their injuries. As the captain, Bastian was determined to come along. That attitude sets a good example. He is an absolute leader. The match against England is obviously very special for him after his move to Manchester United, as is the following match in Munich,” told the Germany manager.
“What’s important for us now is that we very clearly communicate to players what we expect from them, looking ahead to the Euros. What we want to see from them in the next few weeks, in training and in the matches, etc. That’s why we have nominated such a big squad. That doesn’t mean that those who aren’t here have been written off. On the contrary, we are also looking at a few of the younger players,” continued Löw. On why he didn’t select more players from the Under-21 squad Löw admitted, "Horst Hrubesch’s side have two important matches at home against the Faroe Islands and Russia. They have the opportunity to secure qualification for the 2017 European Championship with two wins.”
On the matches against England and Italy, Germany’s World Cup winning coach said: “These matches are real classic ties; people want to see these match-ups. It will be a welcome chance for us to start the European Championship positively and get in the mood for the tournament. Though we know that the players are approaching decisive weeks for their clubs, both domestically and in Europe. We always want to measure ourselves against the best in the national team. For me, England and Italy are, along with Spain, Belgium, France and us, among the favourites for the tournament. Ultimately, we expect to gain a lot of valuable knowledge, which is always more important than the result.”
Löw had praise for a young England side: "After the disappointment of an early exit at the World Cup, the team has developed well. England have undergone a lot of change and are playing dynamic and successful football with lots of young players under Roy Hodgson. They are very consistent and clinical. Ten matches, ten wins, 31 goals and only three conceded – that record in their European Championship qualification group says everything about the strength of the team.”
The Germany manager is also expecting a tough match against Italy. “They also qualified without losing. Italy are clever and efficient. They are incredibly well organised and move around tactically at the absolute highest level. The Italian team is experienced, well coordinated and it is a real challenge to beat them.”
The matches against England and Italy mark the start of a big year for the World Champions, with the European Championship in France coming up in the summer. The team next meet up at the end of the season, when pre-tournament preparations really get under way. The squad will take part in a training camp in Ascona between 23rd May and 4th June, in which time Germany will face Slovakia on 29th. Löw’s side will then face Hungary on 4th June, before heading to their base in Evian on the 7th June.