HERZOGÉNAURACH: As he prepares for his final tournament after 15 years as head coach of Germany, Joachim Loew (Photo) insists he sees signs that his team may put recent failures behind them.
In an interview with AFP’s German sister agency SID At his team’s training base for Euro 2020 in Herzogenaurach, Loew has balanced the confidence in the job as a coach he does with caution about the task his team face.
Loew led Germany to victory at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, but their title defense in Russia in 2018 ended in embarrassment as they finished bottom of their first-round group.
Later that year, they finished at the bottom of their Nations League qualifying group.
In November, Germany were humiliated 6-0 by Spain, again in the Nations League, and in March they lost 2-1 at home to North Macedonia in the World Cup qualifiers.
They fell to 12th in the FIFA World Ranking and were drawn into a Euro 2020 group with reigning champions Portugal and world champions France.
Germany opens against France on June 15 in Munich, then welcomes Portugal on June 19 and finishes against Hungary on June 23.
Loew hailed France as “the most flexible team in the world” with “an incredible individual class of players” and said “Portugal also have great attacking power”.
“If your focus is not constantly at its peak, they will exploit this mercilessly,” he said.
Still, Loew said he felt a better attitude than before the 2018 disaster.
“The mood was different,” he said. “There was a certain heaviness in the team. I don’t feel that way now. “
“On the contrary: the atmosphere is very good.” He added: “The players are very ambitious, they want to be successful.”
Loew said he was approaching his last hurray without sentimentality.
“Each tournament has been special for me,” he said. “I am not melancholy nor particularly motivated because it is my last.
“I’m now fully focused on the tournament and on preparing the team in the best possible way. I’m enjoying it, I feel a lot of energy. I can’t wait and can’t wait to start.”
For Loew, 2014 is the benchmark.
“The first signs are good this time too,” Loew said. “But we have to prove it in the tournament and live it every day again.
“Everyone must be attentive, point out errors, communicate. This mentality must develop throughout the tournament, as was the case in 2014.
“At first there were different ways of thinking or discussing the system, but in the end we got together and everyone really wanted to win the World Cup.”
Loew plans to use a back three to blunt Portuguese and French attacks.
“Compactness is the key,” he said. “If we don’t have that, we’re in trouble. And that plays into the hands of the French and the Portuguese. “
What if everything still goes wrong?
“We have accomplished a lot,” Loew said of his 15-year term which will end when former Bayern Munich manager Hansi Flick takes over.
“I am at peace with the decision to quit.”
Loew said he didn’t want to jump into the next job right away.
“I definitely need to gain some emotional distance first.” – AFP