D.he sextet around Toni Kroos and Leroy Sané posed smiling for a winning photo after his success at the small-field tournament in purple camisoles. The ski jumps provided an impressive backdrop for the “Team of the Day” presented by the DFB. Two days before the EM dress rehearsal against Latvia in the training camp, Joachim Löw once again intensely stirred up the “winning mentality” that he wants to see on the pitch in the groundbreaking opening game against France at the European Football Championship.
“You can say that we will have knockout games straight away,” said the national coach again to the hammer group with the world champion and defending champions Portugal and Hungary as the third opponents in the preliminary round.
DFB director Oliver Bierhoff drew an optimistic conclusion in advance on the ninth of ten days in the Tyrolean “Höhenluft”. “The atmosphere was very focused and positive.” However, the 53-year-old knows with his great tournament experience that good preparation on day X doesn’t count if the result is wrong. “You have to put the right heart, the right courage and the right power right on the pitch against the French on June 15,” warned Bierhoff.
Löw can at least plan with 25 of his 26 players for the EM dress rehearsal against Latvia on Monday (8.45 p.m. in the FAZ live ticker for international matches and on RTL) in Düsseldorf. The four Champions League finalists Kai Havertz, Antonio Rüdiger and Timo Werner from Chelsea FC and Ilkay Gündogan from Manchester City are also available. The four England professionals do not have to be quarantined after entering Germany. “That has been clarified,” said Bierhoff about the corona problem in view of the classification of Great Britain as a virus variant area. The quartet returned to England for less than 24 hours after the final in Porto.
“There is fire in training”
Löw can also look forward to further good personnel news. After his corona infection, the 31-year-old Kroos is again very committed and playfully conspicuous on the pitch. Mats Hummels was also back on the field after a day’s break and should be able to play against Latvia like Kroos. Hummels relieved his malade patellar tendon with knee tape. Lukas Klostermann (knee joint) from Leipzig is also back in team training. Only Leon Goretzka continues to struggle after a muscle injury.
“There’s fire in training,” said full-back Robin Gosens. The atmosphere in the team was “brilliant”, added the newcomer to Atalanta Bergamo. The forms of competition and training games are emotional and sometimes a little louder. “You have to piss yourself off,” said the 26-year-old Gosens.
After all, the battle for the European Championship starting places has fully flared up. 12 of the total of 26 players will initially sit on the bench against the French, another three even in the stands. “That will also be a challenge,” said Bierhoff. He is currently observing “a strong cooperation” between the different generations, from team senior Manuel Neuer (35) to the youngest member of the management team, Jamal Musiala (18).
The last tournament test run against world number 138 will be for Captain Neuer. Latvia a special football evening. As the first German goalkeeper ever, he achieved the magic number of 100 international matches. Before kick-off, Neuer will receive the DFB Medal of Honor. “You might see the 100 in one thing or another with him, including the jersey,” Bierhoff already revealed. Neuer is “the world’s best goalkeeper for years and rightly so”.
After all, 1000 spectators can applaud Neuer in the Düsseldorf stadium. Around 14,000 are allowed to enter the Munich arena in the fight for EM points. This news had triggered “huge joy” in the team hotel, as Bierhoff reported. He was “grateful” for the admission of fans. The 53-year-old sees this as another signal of hope in the corona pandemic. “The whole thing can maybe bring us back to normal a bit. It would be great if such an EM would work all over Europe, if you come with positive feedback and we all have the feeling that things are going uphill again, ”said the director of the national team.
Even if the arena, which can hold 70,000 visitors at international games, will not be full, Löw and the players are hoping for a boost from the stands. “We have already seen at other games that 5000 or 10,000 spectators really create a good atmosphere,” said Bierhoff. The spark should jump over again.