For the first time in almost ten months, press conferences were back on the agenda for the Germany national team, two days ahead of their return to action. Antonio Rüdiger, Niklas Süle and Timo Werner answered journalists’ questions ahead of Germany’s clash with Spain in the UEFA Nations League on Thursday (20:45 CEST).
Timo Werner on...
...getting back into action: It was a little odd returning to the national team. The last few months have been strange for us as we haven't been here together in almost a year. It's exciting to be able to come back and play against such great teams.
...returning home: I'm from Stuttgart, so I love coming home – it’s all so familiar. My last international match here was very successful (two goals in a 6-0 win against Norway back in 2017) so it would be nice to have a repeat performance on Thursday, even if we are facing a stronger opponent this time.
...signing for Chelsea: I joined Chelsea because I wanted to try something new. I had four very successful years in Leipzig, but the Premier League is something different and I want to prove that I can score goals in different leagues. The league is physical, so I will have to work on that side of my game. Chelsea is a huge club that wants to win titles and we can definitely do that with the signings that we have made. That's why I am here.
...the coronavirus in England: The coronavirus is still around, and the situation in England is clearly worse than in Germany. Everything is a lot stricter. There are stricter rules, so you have to be more careful, but that doesn't bother me. From a sporting point of view, I have been training here for a month now and I am feeling really fit.
...what foreign-based players can bring to the national team: On the one hand, the Bundesliga is a great league, but on the other, I have already improved from playing abroad. You have to find your own way and get organised in a new country, all while speaking a foreign language. You learn how to play different styles of football. Obviously the national team benefits from having lots of players in the squad who have all had the chance to develop in this way. It is an advantage for the coach to have players who don't shy away from a challenge.
...Germany's forwards: We have incredible players and if everybody can stay healthy and be ready to play then we have a very strong attack. I don't think that there is much room for improvement.
...his aims with the national team: If I had to choose, I would rather win the European Championship than the Nations League. I think that the Nations League is similar to the Confederations Cup; playing in it will hopefully prepare us to win the European Championship. At the World Cup you saw how quickly things can go against you, but we are still a great team and we aim to win every tournament that we play in. We may not be among the favourites, but we will see where we stand next summer.
...the difference between club and country in regards to the coronavirus: It is already quite different here; it's more intense. But that's a good thing. Germany has shown that it is more organised than anywhere else in the world. Every country has the same problems, but we are doing well – things are obviously not as bad as they once were. I am here to do my job and play football.
...the value of the Nations League: For me it is more than just a friendly, as we are facing an opponent who has the same quality as us. Considering our group at the Euros, it is important to have games at this level so that we can be prepared for even more important matches.
...improving abroad: Through people like Toni Kroos, Sami Khedira and Mesut Özil, I think that you have seen what having players go abroad can bring to the team. You have seen their development as players and as people. To fly the nest and get to grips with a new language and culture has helped this generation a lot.
...his defensive partner Niklas Süle: Niklas and I get on really well. It's not easy to suffer such a serious injury. I am very happy that he, like myself, will hopefully be able to play in the European Championship. Hopefully we can play together in the upcoming matches.
...his first impressions after returning: It wasn't an easy time for me at all. I missed playing for Germany, as we have a really cool group of guys here and it's always a special few days when we get together. I've missed it a lot, so returning yesterday was really nice.
...coronavirus measures taken by the team: Everything is really well planned, right down to the smallest detail: the journeys, the tests, how we go about our training. It's all fine-tuned and it's going brilliantly.
...the appeal of the Nations League: Our aim is to win trophies. The Nations League also allows us to be as well-prepared as possible ahead of the European Championship, where we aim to make a big impact. We are taking every opponent seriously because we want to be in top form heading into next summer.
...his next step: I'm coming back from a long-term injury and I worked really hard to be able to play a role in the Champions League. I worked a lot on my weaknesses and my fitness levels. I am happy to get match practice again – playing for the national team will help me regain my previous level. I am stronger than ever before, so I want to take the positives from the injury and move forwards.
...facing two challenges at once: It would be ridiculous to compare my injury to the pandemic, which is affecting people all over the world. But it has been a struggle for me to not be able to do what I love most: playing football and being out there on the pitch with the lads. It would have been better to return in front of a packed stadium, but it was still an incredible feeling just getting back out there. I don't take things for granted so much anymore. Sometimes I look back and just think: "be happy that you're healthy."
...upcoming opponents Spain: They are still one of the world's best teams, no doubt about it. They have unbelievable individual players and it will be a really demanding test for us. It will be a great battle.
...the lack of fans: We miss the fans so much – it doesn't feel right without them. But you try to do the best that you can given the circumstances. We will catch up with the fans when we can.
...potential improvement for the national team: I think that we can potentially still improve in all areas. If you look back to last year, we have already come a long way. It's not so easy when you only meet up once every two or three months and must immediately face off against a top team. But we have a squad that is ready to compete for honours.
...his role in the team: I have never declared myself as the leader at the back, but I do try to make my voice heard and take on responsibility. I can still get louder though, and be better with my body language. I'm trying to be the best I can for the national team.
...lessons from FC Bayern: I think that we have a great group at Bayern – we are hungry to be as successful as possible every single year. We're going through a rebuild with the national team, so it will take us some time. We had some issues in 2018 – we were nowhere near our best and didn't really play any good football. But then the following year we fought well against some quality opponents in European qualifying. This season, our approach to matches will be crucial. We have the same hunger in the Germany squad that I see when I am with Bayern.