Ahead of the UEFA Nations League opener against France in Munich on Thursday (20:45 CEST), Germany coach Joachim Löw spoke to DFB.de about the fascinating clash against the newly crowned world champions, the new direction of the national team and the new tournament.
…Germany's approach to the match: We were a team who highly regarded elements of the match such as possession and dominating the game. We have done this well over the course of the last year, so we won’t abandon this approach completely, instead adjusting our game. We don’t want to lose our strength in attack, but we do want to stabilise our defence.
…the importance of the upcoming international fixtures: We will clean the slate and correct a few things. We have addressed a few playing and tactical issues and present ourselves differently compared with the World Cup. We are pleased to have met up again as a team, I have already telephoned several players and they all are impatiently to start again and improve. Two months have passed since the World Cup and everyone has had an opportunity to analyse and question what went wrong. I sensed a lot of self-criticism amongst the players. However, training has been focused and there is a lot of optimism in the squad.
…the passion for the national team: Of course we spoke about this over the last couple of days. It is evident in training that the team know they have a lot to make up for after the World Cup performance. The team now needs to show this intension and passion on the pitch. I am convinced that the players will do this.
…the new members of the squad – Thilo Kehrer, Nico Schulz and Kai Havertz: We’ve had two training sessions with them. The players called up for the first time have arrived and have made a good impression. They are technically and physically sound players and we hope all of them will feature at some point.
…the playmaker role: The classic attacking playmaker hasn’t been around for a while. Defensive midfielders and full-backs also have the ability to decide football matches. Several players must take on responsibility in attack.
…Mesut Özil: We have celebrated many successes together in recent years but he has retired. Mesut returning to the team is out of the question.
…the tactics: Of course we could try out a back three but that is not the only thing that could decide the game. It will be important for all of the players to work defensively. That is a fundamental part of the team, not the system. We tried different variations of a back-three before the world cup. It is possible that we will play with a back three again.
…the new competition: I think the Nations League is a good idea. It is a nice change from the normal qualifying process where there usually one or two favourites to win each group. The smaller nations didn’t stand a chance at qualifying; now that has changed. It’s a competition where teams can also be relegated which makes it exciting for the players too.
…the new world champions: We can definitely compete with our opponents by showing quality we have had in recent years. France’s strength is based around a good defence and attacking opponents on the counter with pace. We cannot give them any opportunity to counter. They fully deserve to be world champions as they’ve been the best team in the world over the last one or two years. They are a balanced side which tackle well and contain talented individuals. They always have the correct players in the correct positions to succeed. They are so well equipped in every position that even their second string is full of quality.
…France’s coach Didier Deschamps who led them to World Cup glory: I have a good, close relationship with him. We often meet at congresses and occasionally share information. It’s always nice when we get a chance to meet. I’ve been following his progress for a couple of years and it seems he is always under pressure to perform in France. He has taken France to another level and the success speaks for itself. I personally thought France could’ve won the 2014 World Cup. I am really pleased for him now they have won it.