BERLIN: – “We wanted the best possible preparation, we can’t start to complain now,” German national coach Joachim Loew said of his preparation plan for the 2018 World Cup.
Under the plan of the 57-year-old, Germany will only meet top international sides in its last four pre-tournament friendlies, playing England on Friday evening in London, facing 2016 European Championship runner-up France in Cologne next Tuesday, and Spain and Brazil in March 2018.
Instead of choosing underdogs of world football to get in shape, the 2014 World Cup winning coach decided to go the hard way, playing games like a World Cup semifinal or final.
“We need to be fully focused to be able to defend the World Cup title. These tight games will show us what still needs to be done to get to the final,” said Loew.
For Loew, England, France, Spain, and Brazil are among the strongest competitors for Germany in Russia. “England has changed its games style in the last years and has developed.
The Three Lions haven’t been that strong for a long time. Today you don’t see these typical long balls but a modern approach,” the former striker emphasized.
“All big English clubs count on coaches that are attracted by combination football. The national team is meanwhile comfortable using several tactical systems.”
Regarding France, “Kylian Mbappe, Antoine Griezmann, Paul Pogba or Thomas Lemar, no matter whom you are talking about, they are all at a world class level and a threat to any other team,” said the German head-coach, “they are fast and physically strong.” When it comes to 2010 world champion Spain, Loew is impressed as every single Spanish player has internalized the Spanish football philosophy, and called the Spanish Primer Division “the best league in Europe when you consider the variety,” as no other national league would provide such a high number of games on a very high level.
On Brazil, Loew said “you can’t compare the 2017 team to the one we beat by 7-1 in the 2014 World Cup.
It is a different team now,” as Brazilian players “have no problems when it comes to passing and technique,” can deliver an over average amount of speed, saying “they stand for game joy and are perfectly dealing with the ball.”
For his own team, midfielders Mario Goetze (Borussia Dortmund) and Ilkay Guendogan (Manchester City) return to the German squad after an injury break of several months, so do Mesut Oezil (Arsenal), Sami Khedira (Juventus Turin) and Mario Gomez (VfL Wolfsburg).
However, midfielder Serge Gnabry (TSG Hoffenheim) and Bayern Munich keeper Manuel Neuer will miss the German 2017 friendlies. Due to the injury of left-back Jonas Hector (FC Cologne), Loew nominated RB Leipzig left-back and national team debutant Marcel Halstenberg.