The day before Germany’s first international of the year (20.45 CET on Saturday against Israel in Sinsheim), head coach Hansi Flick and midfielder Ilkay Gündogan spoke to the media at the pre-match press conference. Flick gave some news on what tomorrow’s team sheet will look like: the goalkeeper will be changed at half time, while Nico Schlotterbeck will make his international debut.
… opponent Israel and the start to the international year: It’s not always easy to focus on football during these times. Our game against Israel is on the one hand the start of our World Cup year, and on the other hand, games against them are always a special occasion. We want to see if we have done everything correctly or whether we still have some things to change. Israel have shown that they’ve developed well, including in their youth teams. A few of their players will be missing; Munas Dabbur is a good player to play off and is always a goal threat. I hope that they play freely and try to play football.
… team news: There is no update with Joshua Kimmich. We’d like him to be here but I completely understand why he isn’t, because a birth is very special. Nico Schlotterbeck will play and Marc-André ter Stegen and Kevin Trapp will each play a half in goal. Ilkas Gündogan will play, and everything else will be decided after our final training session.
… Nico Schlotterbeck: He’s sometimes just a tad too relaxed. He always has to be active in the style of football that we’re playing. He’s playing in a team at Freiburg that always wants to be in possession of the ball. He’s very self-aware, which I like. He defends very highly against the ball. He’s developing well and you can see that development like that happens when you give young players the chance to play.
… Antonio Rüdiger: I’m really happy that we have a player like him in our ranks. I like the way he’s developed within the team and how he always pushes his teammates. There’s no discussion to be had about his quality as a defender. It’s important that he continues his development. He always wants to be successful and that’s important for our team.
… Jamal Musiala: He’s a very intelligent player who you look for upon winning the ball. The dynamism that he brings when he’s involved in a play is something that he does really well. He always manages to create space for the team. He can play in a deeper central midfield position, but is also a player who is always dangerous in attack.
… the World Cup squad: Everyone has a club and a place where they can draw attention to themselves through their performances. It’s important that we take players who have the mental toughness to perform in such games. We also look at who has the quality that’s important to the team. We have some important games that will be a challenge for us. That’s always good for our development. Everyone has eight months time to perform well for their clubs and show that they want to play for us in the national team.
…the development of the team: Last summer, when Hansi Flick took over, we got the opportunity to find a new spark and to implement a new way of playing. We have used our time well and are on the right path. There is a good dynamic in the training sessions and there is a lot of intensity. We have some great players with lots of potential as well as experienced members. We have a rather good mix that should come together at the World Cup at the end of the year.
…the value of the friendlies: You have to approach the friendlies as seriously as you approach tournament matches. In the coming months we have to set the foundations for a successful World Cup and make good practice our second nature. I feel this is extremely important. In the tournament itself you have to create a certain momentum.
…the atmosphere in the team: I am not a fan of over interpreting it. It can be important but it’s only as important as you make it yourself. It is of course good to get to know players from a new perspective, particularly the new players. In the end you have to go about it the right way. The most important thing is what happens on the pitch but doing the other things can’t hurt.
...his role: I want to take on responsibility in order to encourage the other players to play at the highest possible level. I want to also meet my own high standards.
…Italy not qualifying for the World Cup: For us it was quite the surprise. We know how tough North Macedonia can be to play against but no one could’ve predicted that result, especially as Italy won the European Championship last the summer. That shows that the level is getting better and better, even amongst the teams who would be considered the underdogs.
…his future in the national team: I am looking forward to the World Cup in Qatar. I will do everything I can to be successful there with my team. After that I will think about where I will go from there. I still enjoy competing at the highest level against the best teams. As long as I have that desire, I see no reason to change anything.