Saturday, 24 June 2017

Löw: "Rüdiger will play against Cameroon", 24.06.2017

On Sunday at 17:00 CEST, the German national team will take on African champions Cameroon in the final group game of the Confed Cup and play for a place in the semi-final. In prelude to tomorrow’s game, manager Joachim Löw and Leon Goretzka spoke to the press in Sochi. DFB.de noted the answers.

Joachim Löw on...

… the line-up against Cameroon: I’m planning for Toni Rüdiger to return to the team. I had planned that before the game, because Cameroon have unbelievably fast players. Those are Toni Rüdiger’s strengths as well, with his physicality and pace he can offer protection. Emre Can went over on his ankle in training, it doesn’t seem to be anything major, but he had to pull out of training. We won’t be playing with the same team as against Chile. I will introduce a new player or two to the team. They absolutely deserve that. But I can’t alter the team too much, you can’t go changing seven or eight positions. You need to have a core. Three, four, maybe even five changes are reasonable – seven or eight is a bit too many.

… the expectations of the Cameroon game: We are not in the semi-final yet, no one can afford to see this as a formality. The most important thing is to perform like we did in the first two games. Cameroon have nothing to lose, they can only progress in the tournament if they win. Tomorrow will be the most intense and most physically demanding game. No other team at the tournament loves a fifty-fifty challenge like Cameroon. If you look at how quickly they turn defence into attack and how fast their attacking players are. You rarely see a team that has this mixture of endurance and intense pace.

… preparations ahead of the Cameroon game: The gap between the two games is very, very short. We only held a short training session this morning. The situation is clear: every team can theoretically still go through – even the two sides who only have one point on the board so far. Our aim is to build on a great performance and important point against Chile and secure our place in the semi-final. That’s the priority, our position in the group is irrelevant. First place or second place is immaterial. If we reach the semi-final, I will be completely satisfied. That is more than would necessarily be expected.

… The energy within the team: The travelling has had quite an impact. We flew to Kasan at night, that wasn’t exactly relaxing. Against Chile, I got the impression that the players were in a position to keep up with the pace of the game. I think bringing in the odd fresh player here and there will do us a lot of good. A few of the players will be given a break. That makes sense. Against Australia the pressure levels were especially high, with it being the opening game. Chile were tactically very demanding and played some intense football.

...the performance of his team: I've said once or twice before that ther places have good capabilities and are technically at a very high level. We've focused on three or four weaknesses because less is sometimes more. We also focused a lot on the offensive side of our game in the days leading up to San Marino and Denmark and practised our build-up play. We had a look in training at where we could improve and concentrated on where we were running to and following our passes. Before the Chile match the focus was on organisation and defensive structure. They're are things that you need against Chile. The team implemented those things very well.

...a possible switch in goal: I don't know yet. I need to talk to Andy Köpke about that. We had planned that every goalkeeper would get a game, but now we need to re-consider. It's not yet decided whether we'll continue to rotate or stick with the same man.

... a potential semi-final opponent: I don't care who the opponent is. I'll watch both games. I would like to face Russia as the hosts. That would be good for the atmosphere and also looking ahead to the World Cup. A semi-final against the hosts is always attractive. But first we need to take the next step which is against Cameroon. Then once we've done that, we'll see how we're going to prepare for the next opponent.

Leon Goretzka on...

... the game against Cameroon: Cameroon are physically very, very strong. We'll try not to take too many touches so as not to give Cameroon a chance in the duels. I think we'll have more ball possession than we had against Chile. The aim is to create chances and to score goals. I'm looking forward to this challenge. It won't be easy, but we'll be concentrating and will try to get a good result.

... potentially winning the group: You go into the group hoping to win it. That's the ideal scenario. But the main aim is to reach the semi-final and we'll give everything to try to do that. If we win the group then we'll have one more day for recovery and that's an advantage because you're fresher for the next game. You avoid a day of travelling, which is good because that's not good for the recovery process.

... his own performance: You don't prove yourself at this level in just one match. I'm not the sort of player who scores two goals in every match. Everyone should be aware of that. I'm trying to be more dangerous in front of goal. I played well against Chile, perhaps with a little less action in the final third, but that was my job.

24 June 2017
Originally on dfb.de. Uploaded here to prevent loss once moved on or removed from this site.

Friday, 23 June 2017

Löw: "We played at a very high level", 23.06.2017

Germany’s second game of the ConfedCup ended in a 1-1 draw with Chile, meaning Joachim Löw’s boys now have a strong chance of making the semi-finals. In the aftermath of last night’s draw Löw spoke to DFB about the strength of the South Americans and the final group game against African Cup of Nations champions Cameroon. Question: Joachim Löw, how did you see the 1-1 game with Chile? <p> Joachim Löw: I saw a very intense and tactical game of football. That was a game played at the highest tactical qualities and I think my team were class for the whole 90 minutes. Defensive quality and organization is also a form of quality and we showed that tonight. After going behind because of a mistake, we came back and that was a very crucial experience for the lads. We played at a very high level.

Question:Did you get the impression that your players were a bit lost out there to begin with?

Löw: No I didn’t they were lost, quite the opposite in fact. We had difficulties in the opening stages but responded to them so well after going behind. We stayed organised and our goal was wonderfully well worked. That was a blueprint for the perfect counter attack, it was sheer class. Chile created some chances too but that’s always going to happen. We solved the problems at the back and were very intelligent with a new formation at the back. The midfield worked hard too and made up a lot ground. Even more impressive for a team that has not played together all that often.

Question:What do you say to the performance of goalscorer Lars Stindl?

Löw: Lars showed how good he can be even after only one day of training in the Denmakr game. He is a refined player with a fantastic reading of the game and he knows how to use space. He was so important for us and always looked to get forward with the ball. He’s been very convincing for us so far. He is calm and self confident and shows no signs of nerves. Added to that he has a great personality and is a great footballer.

Question:This was the first time since September 6 1995, a 4-1 win over Georgia in Nürnburg when Berti Vogts was in charge, that a Germany manager did not make a substitution, how come?

Löw: Because the team was working and I had been expecting to see a sense of resilience from the boys, including covering a lot of ground and investing a lot. I didn’t have the feeling that any of the guys were exhausted and the organization showed that. Chile barely had any chances in the second half.

Question:Will you go into the Cameroon game looking to win the group or will you test out more players.

Löw: A draw will be enough to progress but it will be good for us to win he group. We go into every game looking to win and that’s the aim against Cameroon. Then we can play the semi-final in Sochi and not have to travel. But I have already planned to switch a few positions around. A break will do some players good, while the fresh legs will bring something else tour play.

23 June 2017 Originally on dfb.de. Uploaded here to prevent loss once removed from or moved on that site.

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Zeit, 21.06.2017

Auf dem Hotelbalkon sitzt eine vertraute Gestalt: Joachim Löw, dessen Bekanntheit längst über das Amt des Nationaltrainers hinausgeht, trägt ein schwarzes T-Shirt, eine schwarze, elegant geschnittene Freizeithose, Turnschuhe ohne Schnürsenkel. Die Uhr am rechten Handgelenk, links ein Armband aus schwarzem Leder – sein Glücksbringer. Der 57-Jährige wirkt angespannt angesichts des bevorstehenden Turniers. Hinter der gewohnten Erscheinung hat sich jedoch etwas verändert, das spürt man schnell. Löw ist selbstsicherer, im Fußball hat das gleich was Rebellisches – er scheint sich dabei wohlzufühlen. Wo früher ein Blick ins Leere war, sucht er heute nach Konfrontation. Wenn es ernst wird, politisch, dann lehnt er sich nach vorn, wählt kurze, prägnante Formulierungen. Zwischendurch gönnt er sich immer wieder Pausen zum Nachdenken. Die vereinbarte Redezeit wird überschritten – trotz der Dauerbewachung durch zwei Pressesprecher. DIE ZEIT: Herr Löw, wir haben wenig Zeit, aber viele Fragen, wollen wir uns im schnellen Kombinationsspiel nach vorne versuchen? Joachim Löw: Sie kommen gerade von Bastian Schweinsteiger, nicht wahr? ZEIT: Stimmt. Aber er spielt ja nicht mehr für die Nationalmannschaft. Löw: Wie geht es ihm? ZEIT: Gut, er genießt sein neues Leben in der Unabhängigkeit. Löw: Der Basti ist ein guter Mensch, wissen Sie, was ich meine? So richtig von innen heraus gut. ZEIT: Ist Ihnen das wichtig bei der Zusammenstellung des Kaders, "von innen heraus gute Menschen" zu nominieren? Löw: Die fußballerische Qualität ist natürlich die Voraussetzung. Aber wir haben den Anspruch, dass diese Mannschaft, die ihr Land vertritt, auch nach außen für etwas steht. Das geht nur mit Spielern, die integer sind. So was merke ich sofort. ZEIT: Führt das nicht zu Langeweile, zu einer Gleichförmigkeit? Braucht eine Mannschaft nicht Reibung, Rebellion, Aufmüpfigkeit? Löw: Mit diesem Mythos muss ich jetzt endlich mal aufräumen. Die neue Generation ist anders, als ihr Bild in der Öffentlichkeit gezeichnet wird. Es heißt immer wieder, die Spieler seien alle gleichförmig, es gebe keine echten Typen mehr. ZEIT: Ganz nett halt. Löw: Die Spieler können offen ihre Meinung sagen. Sie differenzieren sehr klar, reflektieren sich, sehen, was problematisch ist, sind selbstkritisch. ZEIT: Woran merken Sie das? Löw: Sie schweigen nicht vor sich hin und führen einfach das aus, was ich ihnen sage. Sie drücken ihre Gefühle und Gedanken dezidiert aus. ZEIT: Aber in den wenigsten Fällen öffentlich. Löw: Genau darum geht es doch. Wenn sie im persönlichen Gespräch mit mir kritisch reflektieren, dann haben sie gar keinen Grund, sich öffentlich zu wehren oder zu kritisieren. Das bedeutet nicht, dass ich ihnen Redeverbot erteile. Ich wünsche mir Charaktere, die für etwas stehen und für Versäumnisse einstehen. ZEIT: Wie läuft die Auseinandersetzung ab? Löw: Sie kommen zu mir und sagen: "Trainer, ich sehe das anders." Und dann diskutieren wir, und manchmal lasse ich mich auch überzeugen. ZEIT: Wann geschieht das? Während des Trainings? In der Halbzeitpause? In den Abendstunden eines Turniers? Löw: In den unterschiedlichsten Momenten. Das kommt gar nicht so selten vor – und es imponiert mir. Spieler wie Joshua Kimmich und Julian Brandt sind durchaus mutig. Vor zehn Jahren waren junge Spieler meist leise. Haltung ist ja deshalb so wichtig, weil die Spieler auf dem Platz auch mutig sein müssen, Ideen kreieren, Lösungen finden, kommunizieren und sich durchsetzen sollen. ZEIT: Sie spielen gerade beim Confed Cup in Russland, einem Turnier, das bis zum 2. Juli läuft und bei dem die Sieger der jeweiligen Kontinentalwettbewerbe, der Gastgeber und der amtierende Weltmeister antreten. Der Wettbewerb findet immer ein Jahr vor der WM als Generalprobe statt und wird von vielen als überflüssig bezeichnet. War es eine große Überwindung für Sie, sich dafür zu motivieren? Löw: Für mich als Trainer ist dieses Turnier ein Geschenk. ZEIT: Es ist ein Geschenk, mehrere Tausend Kilometer von Spielort zu Spielort fliegen zu müssen mit dem Wissen, es geht um nichts? Löw: Es ist deshalb so wertvoll für mich, weil es mir dabei hilft, unser nächstes Ziel zu erreichen, die WM im kommenden Jahr erfolgreich zu bestreiten. Sehen Sie es als eine Art Etappe auf dem Weg zum nächsten Titel. Es ist eine Mission. Wir wollen Spielern helfen, besser zu werden. Wir wollen sie auf das nächste Level heben. Das brauchen wir, wenn wir den WM-Titel in Russland gewinnen wollen. Jetzt kann ich in einer Drucksituation experimentieren. Etwas Schöneres gibt es doch kaum für einen Trainer. ZEIT: Ihnen wurde lange vorgeworfen, Sie scheuten sich vor einem Neuanfang, einem Einschnitt. Löw: Sie können mir durchaus zutrauen, ein Gefühl dafür zu haben, wann der richtige Zeitpunkt für Veränderungen gekommen ist. Die will ich in diesen zwei Wochen herbeiführen und einen neuen Konkurrenzkampf unter den Spielern herstellen. ZEIT: Aber Sie haben doch all die erfahrenen Spieler wie Thomas Müller, Mats Hummels oder Toni Kroos in den Urlaub geschickt. Löw: Wie sollen sich denn die weniger erfahrenen Spieler sonst beweisen? Genau diese sollen doch im internationalen Vergleich den Druck kennenlernen und gegenüber den Etablierten aufholen. Außerdem ist es eine wertvolle Erfahrung für sie, in einem Land wie Russland aufzutreten. ZEIT: Merkt ein Spieler überhaupt, wo er spielt? Merken Sie, wo Sie sich als Trainer befinden? Löw: Die wichtigste Erfahrung findet wie immer auf dem Platz statt. Jeder unserer Gegner steht für eine eigene Mentalität, einen eigenen Stil, damit müssen wir uns zurechtfinden. Aber wir können mehr mitnehmen. Wir Trainer lernen die Abläufe und Entfernungen in diesem Land besser kennen, das kann nächstes Jahr ein Puzzleteil sein. ZEIT: Wir wollten auf etwas anderes hinaus: Sie sind Kopf der Mannschaft, Ihre Bekanntheit geht mehr als die der einzelnen Spieler über Deutschland hinaus. Spielt die politische Situation im Gastgeberland für Sie eine Rolle? Denken Sie darüber nach, dass Putin das Turnier nutzen könnte, um die Opposition noch weiter zu unterdrücken? Löw: Das ist doch auch ein Teil der Mündigkeit. Natürlich sprechen wir darüber. Wir haben unsere Spieler auf die Situation in Russland vorbereitet. Wir haben ihnen Informationen über eine App auf ihrem Handy zusammengestellt, auf der alle politischen Hintergründe genau beschrieben sind. ZEIT: Wer hat diese App gestaltet? Löw: SAP. ZEIT: Und was genau steht drin? Löw: Die App ist die Plattform, über die Trainer, Spieler sowie Betreuer miteinander kommunizieren. Scouts und Videoanalysten stellen dort genauso Informationen ein wie unsere Fitness-Coaches oder die Pressesprecher. Über Russland finden sich Infos zu Land und Leuten, aber auch zu Hintergründen und kritischen Fragen. Russische Historie und Kultur gehören genauso dazu wie gesellschaftspolitische Themen. ZEIT: Und Sie glauben, die Spieler lesen das? Löw: Das ist sicher individuell verschieden. Es ist ein Angebot für die Spieler, die sich auch abseits des Rasens weiterbilden wollen. Und das sollen sie, die Spieler sollen sich zu Persönlichkeiten entwickeln. Auf und neben dem Platz. Ich werde immer wieder nach der Rolle unserer Mannschaft gefragt. Wir wollen auf die Menschen in Russland zugehen, Interesse an ihnen zeigen. Offen sein. Wir haben hier in Sotschi Kinder und Jugendliche zum Training eingeladen. Nach unserem Spiel in Dänemark haben wir in Kopenhagen eine Pressekonferenz in einer Schule abgehalten. Das können wir auf unserer Ebene für die Völkerverständigung tun. Es ist mir bewusst, dass wir Sportler Verantwortung tragen. Ich blende politische Fragen nie aus. ZEIT: Ist es vertretbar, in einem Land wie Russland, in dem Kritiker des Präsidenten Wladimir Putin gewaltsam unterdrückt werden, eine Fußball-WM auszurichten? Löw: Da bin ich wieder bei den Menschen. Ich habe das Gefühl, die Menschen hier freuen sich genauso, Gastgeber einer WM zu sein, wie wir es 2006 getan haben. Natürlich würde ich mir wünschen, dass jedes Land, in dem wir antreten, demokratische Grundregeln beachtet. Aber ist es nicht ein wenig zu viel von einer Fußballmannschaft verlangt, die politische Situation in Russland zu verändern? Wir sollen Probleme lösen, die die Politik nicht überwindet? Wir wollen zur Verständigung beitragen. Beim Confed Cup vor vier Jahren in Brasilien demonstrierten Hunderttausende für Gesundheit, Bildung und gegen Korruption. Auch das habe ich aufgesaugt. Ich informiere mich, weil es mich interessiert. Wir als Fußballmannschaft haben eine direkte Beziehung zu den Menschen, zum Volk. Ich will meine Rolle nutzen und im Kleinen für Werte stehen: Offenheit, Toleranz, Vielfalt. Da sind wir zurück am Anfang unseres Gesprächs. Es mag schnell etwas abgedroschen wirken, zu sagen, man wolle Werte nach außen vertreten. Aber ich glaube daran, dass man mit einer Vorbildfunktion etwas verändern kann. Da geht es nicht darum, laut zu sein, es geht nicht um Effekthascherei. ZEIT: Sondern um eine sanfte Form der Rebellion? Löw: Meine Form. ZEIT: Welchen Eindruck haben Sie von Russland? Löw: Ich war im vorigen Jahr bereits in St. Petersburg bei der Auslosung und habe viele Leute getroffen, auch einfache Menschen – Taxifahrer, Busfahrer, Hotelpersonal. Ich habe gelernt: Die Russen sind freundlich, kommunikativ, belesen. Sie begegnen mir trotz unserer schwierigen, belasteten Geschichte freundlich. Das ist nicht selbstverständlich. Sie betrachten uns Deutsche als im Kern ähnlich, in Teilen sogar fast schon als Vorbild, in der Organisation, auch im Fußball. ZEIT: Sie haben eine starke Glaubwürdigkeit, vielleicht noch stärker als Politiker. Spüren Sie das im Umgang mit den Menschen? Löw: Schon, ja, ich habe als Nationaltrainer Autorität, aber ich kann diese Autorität auch auf meine Art interpretieren und ausleben. Wir haben den Brasilianern bei der WM ja auch auf spezielle Art imponiert. Man hat uns als sympathische Mannschaft empfunden, die Lust hatte auf dieses Land. Nach dem 7:1-Sieg im Halbfinale gaben sich meine Spieler nicht arrogant, sondern fanden tröstende Worte. Das ist Fairplay. ZEIT: Das war ja auch nicht so schwer. Löw: Unterschätzen Sie das nicht! Genau deshalb haben die Brasilianer diese Mannschaft geliebt. Auf der Fahrt ins Campo Bahia standen Kinder auf der Straße, sie haben uns zugejubelt. Man stelle sich ein 7:1 gegen Italien vor, das wäre wohl anders gelaufen. ZEIT: Haben Sie Angst, beim Confed Cup zu scheitern? Löw: Was meinen Sie mit "scheitern"? ZEIT: Sollten Sie mit diesem Kader die Vorrunde gegen Australien, Chile und Kamerun nicht überstehen, dann könnte Ihnen die Experimentierfreudigkeit als Hochmütigkeit ausgelegt werden. Löw: Glauben Sie mir, erstens leide ich nicht an Hochmut, und zweitens würde ich das aushalten. Ich sehe nur Chancen für uns in diesem Turnier, null Risiko. ZEIT: Das können Sie sich im Gegensatz zu vielen Kollegen herausnehmen, weil Sie bereits den WM-Titel gewonnen haben. Löw: Es gab Phasen, da wäre das einem Bundestrainer schwerer gefallen. Aber ich mache das, weil ich es so will, ich handle aus Überzeugung, immer. So hätte ich auch in meinem ersten Jahr entschieden. ZEIT: Heute können Sie das gut sagen. Löw: Es ist so, das können Sie mir glauben – oder nicht. ZEIT: Haben Sie eigentlich auch mit den Spielern gesprochen, die Sie nicht eingeladen haben? Mit denen, die noch nicht in den Genuss großer DFB-Erfolge gekommen sind? Löw: Das sind die schwierigsten Gespräche. Ich habe sie alle persönlich angerufen. Ich weiß ja, wie weh das tut. Aber wenn ich von ihnen verlange, dass sie mutig sind, dann muss ich mich auch diesen Situationen stellen. ZEIT: Gab es Widerspruch? Löw: Erst waren sie überrascht über meinen Anruf und auch irgendwie dankbar, es auf diese Weise zu erfahren. Aber natürlich sagen sie mir auch, dass sie es nicht nachvollziehen können. Originally on http://www.zeit.de/2017/26/joachim-loew-deutsche-nationalmannschaft-interview BACK-UP

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Löw: "Chile will be at a different level", 20.06.2017

The Germany national team opened their Confed Cup campaign with a win, successfully overcoming Australia 3-2. Head coach Joachim Löw assesses in an interview with DFB.de his young side’s performance and looks ahead to the match against Copa-America winners Chile on Thursday (20:00 CEST).

Interviewer: Mr Löw, how pleased are you with the 3-2 win in your opening game of the Confed Cup against Australia?

Joachim Löw: I’m pleased that we’ve picked up our first three points and in my view, we played very well in the second half. We combined well and had everything under control. We made a lot of runs going forward and the only negative was only being 2-1 up despite creating so many chances. We lost our way a little bit after 60 minutes and we didn’t make the most of our attacks as consistently.

Interviewer: Were the final touches missing slightly there?

Löw: Yes, we can work on keeping our stability. But despite all that, you can’t put expectations too high. We had some very good periods, which I’m really pleased about. I do not expect that everything will go perfectly after just ten days. We should appreciate how well the team has been able to implement the two or three key things we have been focusing on. I’m delighted with that as it is not something we had expected them to do so well.

Interviewer: How did you rate the performance of Leon Goretzka, who was involved in all three goals?

Löw: He was really strong, just as he has been the whole time since he has been with us. Leon put himself about and worked hard. He won challenges in defence and made excellent runs going forward. That is very hard to defend against as we saw with the third goal. He is in great form and is giving a very good impression.

Interviewer: What did you make of goalkeeper Bernd Leno’s performance?

Löw: The first shot from 16 metres was not easy to stop because it was hit really cleanly. He could have held the second but he is a very good goalkeeper and I have been very impressed with him in training. He has only made one mistake. That is not a problem for me.

Interviewer: You face Chile in your next game on Thursday.

Löw: It is definitely a good thing that not everything went well. Now we know what we need to work on. The Chile game will be at a different level. Chile are incredibly versatile and play a very intense game, so we need to see if we can maintain our stability for the entire 90 minutes, not just 60.

Interviewer: Are Chile still the tournament favourites for you?

Löw: Chile are definitely one of the best teams in the world. They have fantastic individual quality and are very versatile tactically in a way that most teams are not. They can change things up easily during a match. The players know where to make the runs and have incredible power going forward. They are an absolute top-class team.

20 June 2017
Originally on dfb.de. Uploaded here to prevent loss once removed from or moved on that site.

Monday, 19 June 2017

What Löw hopes to learn at Russia 2017, 18.06.2017

Joachim Low has made it clear from the start that the FIFA Confederations Cup 2017 provides him with a welcome opportunity to answer some of his own questions. “For me, the Confed Cup is a gift,” he explained at Saturday evening’s press conference. “It helps us to make some of our players better by giving them the kind of experience you can only get at a tournament like this.”

FIFA.com presents a few of the questions that the FIFA World Cup™-winning coach will be hoping to answer:

Who is my backup to Manuel Neuer?

While none of the three goalkeepers who travelled with Germany to Russia dispute the fact that Neuer is the clear first choice, who should step up when the Bayern shot-stopper cannot play? More importantly, who is in pole position to succeed the 31-year-old when he eventually retires from international football? All three candidates are arguably strong enough to step straight into the No1 role for many national teams.

Although 25-year-old Bernd Leno starts against Australia, Low has made it clear that this is primarily because Marc-Andre ter Stegen, 25, and Kevin Trapp, 26, featured in the two matches before the tournament. “After Manu the competition has really opened up, and that helps all of us to develop,” Leno explained on the eve of the Australia match. “All three of us goalkeepers are pretty much evenly matched. All of us try to give everything in training and matches to make sure that the coach turns to us when something is wrong with Manu.”

Who offers me world-class quality?

The Germany coach is looking for world class – nothing more, nothing less. “Many of these guys are 20, 21 and have not yet reached their full potential,” Low explained. “Only a few of them are already world class, while others need another two or three years to get there.” The players who demonstrate or indicate that kind of quality at this tournament will hope for a return to Russia in 12 months time.

How will we fare with three at the back?

Ever since the 2014 FIFA World Cup™, Low has repeatedly stressed the need for his team to continue developing. This has meant experimenting with the status quo every now and again, including the introduction of a back three that has proved less than popular among fans and pundits. For a tactician like Low, however, flexibility is a precious commodity, and he selected this system in the UEFA EURO 2016 quarter-final against Italy that Germany won on penalties.

“Formations are a key issue for us,” the 57-year-old explained. “It’s possible that we’ll use different systems during the tournament and perhaps even within a single match. Being able to experiment in competition conditions is extremely useful.”

Can Wagner give me the Gomez factor?

With his ability to hold and distribute the ball, not to mention to collect and score from almost any type of cross into the box, the physically imposing Sandro Wagner is the kind of player not seen in a Germany shirt for several years.

Mario Gomez paved the way for this kind of tactical deployment at EURO 2016 in France, with his absence through injury from the team’s eventual semi-final exit to the hosts considered to be a crucial blow. “He gives our game something we haven’t really utilised in the past,” captain Julian Draxler said of Wagner. If the 29-year-old Hoffenheim striker can carry his pre-tournament form into the competition itself, he will be likely to earn himself a place at next summer’s World Cup.

!8 June 2017 - German version, English language version up 19 June 2017
Originally on FIFA.com. Uploaded here to prevent loss once removed from or moved on that site.

Saturday, 3 June 2017

Löw: "Champions need Competition too", 01.06.2017

Germany manager Joachim Löw and the national team have an intense few weeks ahead of them preparing for a friendly in Denmark, a World Cup qualification game against San Marino, and then the Confederations Cup in Russia. The 57-year-old World Cup winning manager speaks with DFB.de on his inexperienced squad, the hopeful talent in it and the anticipation for the tournament in Russia, as well as the political situation in the World Cup 2018 host country.

Question: Joachim Löw, how good are the espressos in Russia?

Joachim Löw: I have to say – they’re decent. I’ve not had any bad experienced so far (laughs).

Question: So you’re looking forward to the Confederations Cup?

Löw: Yes, very much so. We’ve got time now to build chemistry within the team, which is good. I think the tournament is exciting for us because we can gain more experience – especially for this squad...

Question: ... a very young one without many World-Cup-winners.

Löw: The goal is to win the 2018 World Cup and retain the trophy, and taking part in the Confederations Cup is a part of that. I’m hoping that three or four, or even five players make an impression in the tournament, and are then in a position to put pressure on the established World-Cup-winning players as we go into the 2018 World Cup. We want to have players on a different level, and that’s important to me.

Question: Does that mean that you’ve already decided on 80-90% of your 2018 World Cup squad?

Löw: Not necessarily, no. We have around twelve or thirteen World Champions who are established players, and I know they have a lot of experience and a lot of quality, players like Manuel Neuer, Toni Kroos, Mats Hummels, Jerome Boateng, Sami Khedira, Thomas Müller, and Mesut Özil. But what’s most important is to keep rotating the squad, and that happens when the young players impress and want to fight for a place in the team. That makes those players who have already shown their quality continue to produce good performances. These players have quality, but they also need some competition so they still have something to prove. I want us to stay hungry.

Question: But the World-Cup-winners have an advantage?

Löw: Yes, that’s right. The players I named are constantly playing at the top level of international football and are key players for their clubs. I’ve also been pleased with their performances after the World Cup. Despite this, we want to always set out reminders that these players can’t rest on their laurels. They need to be pressured by younger players so that they continue to develop further and become a better and better. Every individual has to play to the best of their ability at the World Cup – maybe even better than they ever have before. A team will struggle if that’s not the case.

Question: Are you therefore treating the Confederations Cup as a tryout?

Löw: Yes, that’s how I look at the Confederations Cup – it’s important. We have talented players in the squad, in the Bundesliga, and in the clubs – but the Bundesliga isn’t the benchmark for us, it’s the best players that are the yardstick. Messi and Ronaldo. Julian Brandt, Leroy Sane, Joshua Kimmich, Julian Weigl, Leon Goretzka, Serge Gnabry and other players are very talented and have so much potential, but they’re not the best in the world yet, nowhere near! We need world-class players if we want to win a title.

Question: What do you make of the breaks between the big tournaments?

Löw: Over the years I’ve learnt that one needs to make changes, regardless of whether you’re successful or not. Not always abruptly, but over certain phases of time. We’re all waiting for every second-year in the cycle – the ones in which we play in a big tournament, so the Confederations Cup is an important stepping stone. We’re now together for four weeks, and we’ll play seven games including the two international friendlies. This gives me time to evaluate the players and decide who needs to work on what.

Question: What effect has the U21 European Championship had on you, in terms of not being able to select even more young players?

Löw: It’s a shame that Leroy Sane has withdrawn from the squad. He has incredible potential and a tournament would have been great for him – whether he played in one for us or for the U21s. There are players who have played well for both teams. The U21 European Championship is as important for us, and it’s good that the players will be looking to prove themselves there as well.

Question: What players will take on positions of leadership at the Confederations Cup? Is Julian Draxler a logical choice for captain?

Löw: Julian should definitely take on more responsibility as a leader. He’s one of the leaders of the next generation after Manuel Neuer. Draxler can play for Germany consistently when they retire. He’s become a better player and person throughout his time in Paris. Shkodran Mustafi is a player who can organise players well and is very communicative. Besides them, it remains to be seen who will emerge as a leader, which is exciting and nice to see.

Question: What do you make of the political climate of the countries in which you play?

Löw: We communicate with our President, Reinhard Grindel, who is leading the delegation in Russia. The DFB pay a lot of attention to the situation. I think that it’s important to use the opportunity to look behind the curtain when you go to a country, and then formulate and express an opinion. We’ll talk to the team before we go to Russia, like we did prior to the tournaments in South Africa and Brazil. We can’t forget that we’re the guests in Russia and are participating in a football tournament, and we shouldn’t expect football to solve problems and misunderstandings that politics can’t solve. But we certainly won’t just turn a blind eye.

Question: What exactly do you mean?

Löw: We spoke about the problems that exist in South Africa and Brazil. I see it like this: As a team, we have the opportunity to meet people thanks to sport. It’s about meeting others, and football has the amazing power to bring people together, regardless of skin colour, race, and political opinions. That’s what we play for. Our players are open-minded and should look at what’s going on and formulate an opinion. We should be open-minded to the football fans in every country –that’s important. I think that Russia is a great country for football and that’s something that we have in common. Our team can contribute something in that regard.

Question: Will you convene with your opponents in the discussions that Reinhard Grindel mentioned?

Löw: That’s not what we have in mind, especially given that we’re operating on a tight programme with many busy dates set for the calendar. Our President knows more about it than I do, as does Oliver Bierhoff, and they’re both in discussions about it. However, I think that the team and delegation already play a role. We want to show what we stand for – that the Germany team is one of tolerance, freedom, and one that looks forward to going to any country, and that is open to understanding the cultures and mentalities of people all over the world. That’s what’s important for me.

Question: Are you looking forward to the World Cup as much as you were in 2016, given the criticism on FIFA and the hosts, Russia?

Löw: Yes, we’re looking forward to it as much as we would any other tournament. I’m excited for Russia, because they’ve been friendly to me so far. You get the sense that the Russians are Germans share a respect for one another. But we’re focused on the football, the team, the tournament, and the opponents. The boys have worked hard for their success in sport and are thankfully fully focussed on that. There were discussions in countries like South Africa and Brazil, where millions demonstrated on the streets one year prior to the World Cup. We’re very aware of that.

Question: How much does the Confederation Cup mean to you?

Löw: I know from my own experience that the Confederations Cup is great preparation for the hosts. We did a lot in 2005, and it helped improve the spirit of the team. Russia are looking forward to it and are taking the tournament very seriously. As a manager I have to ask questions like ‘how big is the strain on the players whom I’ve relied on for eight or nine years?’ and ‘how will they cope with a tournament like this?’

Question: And?

Löw: I know what it means to be together for eight weeks like we did in 2014 or 2016 after a difficult football season. It takes a toll on your mind and body. Then the players start training again two or three weeks afterwards as they return to their regular league schedule. That has consequences, like players constantly getting injured because they’re not 100%, as they haul themselves through a season losing more and more form. Three tournaments in three years is the limit, in my opinion.

Question: Are players like Mario Götze and Jerome Boateng examples of that?

Löw: It’s still too early for me to be worried; I know that players do get injured.

Question: The German clubs were eliminated from international competitions due to injuries at the most crucial times this season. Is this a warning to you?

Löw: Not in the Champions League, no. Bayern could have done it against Real. Bayern were very good and at least Real’s equals – they’re always in the conversation to win the Champions League, but at this top level it always comes down to the little things and exceptional circumstances. Borussia Dortmund had to deal with the terrible attack. They had a good season in my mind. As for the Europa League, I had hoped that one of the teams would go a bit further than they did. Schalke had one foot in the semi-final.

Question: Do you ever get tired of football?

Löw: No, maybe just three or four weeks after a tournament. Tournaments last half a year for us when you include the preparations and the crazily intense discussions. As the manager I’m always in the spotlight. When the tournament is done, I feel fatigued a few days after, regardless of the result. It’s the same after every highlight. There’s so much emotion and then I say: let me relax for two or three weeks in peace. I want to refuel and enjoy other things.

Question: That seems difficult given the constant stream of football.

Löw: It’s a dangerous game, we can’t exhaust ourselves. You can get the impression that it’s oversaturated sometimes. The players go on holiday for a few days at the end of the season, but can’t really enjoy a proper holiday because they always have a training programme of sorts. Then they have to return after two weeks. It’s not good in the long-term. There are lots of tournaments, like the Club World Cup, the World Cup, and the European Championship. I think to myself that if you have a good product and you want to make it even more desirable, then perhaps a longer break would be better.

Question: Do you fear that there’ll be a point where there’s too much football?

Löw: We should remain realistic and not think of all the possible negative scenarios, as we all love football. However, it comes to a point where you have to ask ‘is there no limit?’ The European Championship was exciting, but I don’t find it that exciting when three of four teams in a group progress. It’s dangerous if a team can progress with three draws, because it means that the smaller teams will go in with the mentality of just defending, because they don’t have to necessarily win anymore. It just destroys the game. That has an effect on the quality of the game, and changes the way football is played. The game relies on the offensive, to act rather than to react and dig in with ten men.

Question: Is that not frustrating? Or do you still have moments of joy when on the bench?

Löw: Yes, because I also find it exciting as a manager to play against an opponent that sets up defensively, like Northern Ireland at the European Championship. We only won 1-0, but had ten massive chances. It’s enjoyable to watch my team play when they’re able to control the game like that, but for the fans watching in the stadium or on television it can be boring.

Question: What are your thoughts on the commercialisation of football – a topic that was brought up around the DFB-Pokal final?

Löw: The Pokal-final is a great end to the season and certainly a highlight of it – it’s like a public holiday for football. It deserves to have a big stage and be modern, young, trendy and fresh. Personally, I feel for Helene Fischer, and I’m sorry for the fact that she was whistled at – she didn’t deserve to be. I don’t think that the national anthem should be whistled at either – that’s disrespectful. The DFB-Pokal is a great competition as it’s the most important title alongside the Bundesliga which you can win in Germany. The clubs play on a huge platform and for big incentives. It’s clear that it has to be played out a bit.

Question: The DFB has attracted a lot of criticism. Does it deserve said criticism?

Löw: I find that the DFB is portrayed far too negatively. It’s obvious that sanctions aren’t popular with clubs, but for me fireworks have no place in the stadium because they’re dangerous and aren’t an expression of so-called ‘fan culture’. The DFB does so much good for football in society. It’s a shame that they’re the subject of so much public criticism.

Question: Is football harming itself?

Löw:The burden on the players is incredibly heavy. I ask myself: can a player play for twelve or 13 years at international level as was the case 15-20 years ago, or was Miroslav Klose just an exception? Can players who are 20 at the moment still improve when they’re 30, or will they get worse at 27 or 28 because of the burden?

Question: Is that true?

Löw:It’s not just the games. There are also very short breaks, short preparation times, the tournaments, lots of travel, lots of energy expired. I see signs of wear on relatively young players.

Question: Therefore, you’re giving lots of stars a break this summer.

Löw:Yes. I want to make sure that our players who have played in a lot of tournaments are rested for the upcoming season and can perform at their best next year, because they will have to. We’ll have a young and dedicated squad at the Confed Cup in Russia. We’re excited and we’re taking it seriously. Then next year Russia will see our world champions who want to build on their success.

Question:Should you successfully defend the World Cup title in 2018, will you consider stepping aside?

Löw:That’s still an incredibly long way off. But I know that there is still a good working relationship with the DFB. A tournament is always a point in time when you look at what the development has been and what the different perspectives are. Then you ask: is it ok? As the coach I have to ask myself whether I feel the team is achieving, whether we can still improve, whether I still have ideas. I don’t base this on the odd result, rather on the whole situation.

Question: Does this new, young squad of players for the Confed Cup also revitalise the national team coach?

Löw:Yes of course. Now we need to see if we can generate a certain harmony in a short space of time, a certain basis. We need to make things automatic, go back to basics and ensure the players take note of our philosophy. I find that exciting.

Question: Is development more important than the title for you then?

Löw:Both are very important to me. Development has always been important to me. I’m not a coach who only concerned with results. I want to see the team improve in their play and in other aspects. We always want to move with the times. Germany doesn’t believe, thank goodness, that if you just run and fight you will always get through. That was the case in the past and that was our strength. But everything has changed and we need to develop further in a footballing sense. Enjoyment is also one of the German values.

1 June 2017
Originally on dfb.de. Uploaded here to prevent loss once removed from or moved on that site.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Löw on Podolski's retirement: "A wonderful but sad moment", 21.03.2017

Another international, another press conference. Lukas Podolski looked as good as ever while taking questions from the media ahead of his 134th and final appearance in a Germany shirt against England on Wednesday. Before hand the 31-year-old received messages of thanks and good luck from for team manager Rudi Völler and ex-National team coach Jürgen Klinsmann, as well as the absent Per Mertesacker via video. Current Germany Joachim Löw also only had kind words for the attacker, as well as the promise of the captain’s armband tomorrow night. In response to a question from a journalist in the National Football Museum as to whether Podolski would receive the captaincy, Löw answered: “Yes, definitely.” Podolski’s reply: “Incredible, I had no idea until now.”

Joachim Löw on...

...Podolski’s retirement: It’s going to be a wonderful moment, but for a sad one as well at the same time. We have come a long way with one another, cleared many hurdles, experienced disappointment but also had the best form of elation that a trainer or a player can experience by winning the World Cup in 2014. The circumstances tomorrow are totally perfect. It’s the right surroundings and the right atmosphere in the stadium. So many are coming just for Lukas, he is one of the best players Germany had produced.

...lasting memories of Podolski: Lukas will play in his 130th international. He is a world champion, and one of the best players to come out of Germany. The way he has played is totally unique. But he has played a part in something wonderful, and the National team was like a family for him. He has an incredible sense of empythy for other and he makes everyone feel important. A player like that, like Lukas, will be sorely missed.

...the starting XI: Manuel Neuer is injured and has not travelled. Julian Draxler and Mesut Özil both have muscle strains and will not player, while Mario Gomez has an adductor issue. They are the players who are not available tomorrow. We will train this evening and then I will decide.

...England: It’s been noticeable in the last few months how much England are in a transition. They have more possession. They have a lot of good and very quick players who break quickly. Their play is braver and they take more risks than they did at the Euros in France.

...the first call-up for Timo Werner: I have been following Timo for a while now, since he was at VfB Stuttgart. He is quick, a danger in front of goal and has come on strong at Leipzig. Timo is someone who has what a lot of players don’t- he tracks back deep, runs a lot, is quick and is an excellent finisher. If he continues to improve like this then he I think he has a good career in the National team ahead of him.

Lukas Podolski on...

…his retirement from International football with DFB: I have had so many enjoyable and positive moments over the last 13 years. It already feels a little strange, starting with being here on this stage for the press conference and then going into the changing room. There will be many emotional moments. I’m so pleased I have the chance to end it this way. That means so, so much to me.

...being captain against England: Sensational. I only heard that today, I had no idea otherwise. There will be nothing better than leading the team in my last game as captain.

...his memories after 13 years with the National team: There isn’t one moment I could pick out and say “that was the highlight”. Maybe playing the World Cup at home in 2006, as that happens so very rarely. But there really isn’t one moment that I would want to pick out.

...his time as a German International: Time flies when you are a footballer. It is only ever match, packing and travelling. You have very little time to take things in. They were however 13 fun and cool years. Everyone played their part. From Rudi Völler, who picked me for the u-21st, to Jürgen Klinsmann and Jogi Löw. If you work with a coach for more than 10 years, you build something special, off the pitch as well. He gave me so much, in all areas of the game.

...a potential return to the DFB setup: I have a few more years left in me yet. Then I have no plans at the moment. I have always enjoyed working with kids, trying to help them - so that could be a potential route I take.

...what he will tell young players: You have to stay true on the pitch, that’s something every young player should remember. I had to fight hard, few players are being taken on nowadays and that makes it harder. Despite this pressure you should aim to keep the joy and the fun you get out of life, even if it is off the pitch.

21 March 2017
Originally on dfb.de. Uploaded here to prevent loss once moved on or removed from that site.