M.anuel Neuer was already there. A few weeks ago, the captain inspected the home ground of the German national soccer team in Herzogenaurach. On Tuesday, after his 100th international match against Latvia in Düsseldorf, the goalkeeper will travel to Franconia and live with his 25 teammates and the huge staff for the duration of the European Championship on the premises of DFB partner Adidas.
Neuer was deeply impressed by what he was shown during his pre-visit. “It looks very chilled,” said the 35-year-old during his tour of the site; through meeting rooms, a total of 15 residential units, the dining room and the central market square as a permanent meeting place during the tournament.
A quarter does not win any games. But accommodation creates an atmosphere that can contribute to success or failure. Nobody knows that as well as DFB director Oliver Bierhoff, who has been the top quartermaster in the association since 2004. “A camp can play a decisive role,” says the former national player.
Just no beach and no sea
The Campo Bahia in Brazil has been considered the ideal since winning the World Cup in 2014. Watutinki 2018, a prefabricated building outside Moscow with the flair of a Russian barracks, is a symbol of the 2018 World Cup disaster in Russia. Bierhoff knows the importance of tournament quarters in times of pandemics, even if he says: “The energy has to come from the team.”
“Home Ground” looks a bit like Campo Bahia. At least that’s what those at the DFB say who have already been able to enter and view it. There is no beach and sea like in Brazil, but nature and many opportunities for distraction such as a pool, beach volleyball and paddle tennis court. The latter was reportedly built at the special request of team captain Neuer.
The small houses for four players each – all practical and elegantly furnished at the same time – are surrounded by trees. Most of the building was made of wood, and great importance was attached to the large windows. “We were able to design the quarter in our own way,” said Bierhoff. A temporary building only for the DFB entourage and the EM is “Home Ground”, in German home ground, but not. After the tournament, the sporting goods manufacturer intends to use it as a conference center with residential units for employees and external guests.
Kasper Rorsted, CEO of Adidas AG since October 1, 2016, is very pleased “that we have the team as guests”. The 59-year-old Dane describes the complex as a “sustainable village with enough privacy for the team”. National coach Joachim Löw and his team should actually live there by 2020. Then came Corona and the EM postponement by one year. “Home Ground” was initially empty. “The campus has not yet been put into operation. We wanted the team to be the first guest, ”said Rorsted.
Bierhoff sent photos to everyone in advance. The 53-year-old is convinced that this time he is right again. From his point of view, a quarter should be a big playground. Watching EM games together, doing a lot together, that strengthens the community. “Quarters in which players are separated from each other and often have to walk long distances, where groups arise, cause problems”, says manager Bierhoff from the experience of four World Cup and four European Championship tournaments, which he is responsible for after 17 years in the DFB .
He is not afraid of the problem of the camp crash and the formation of small groups on the spacious Adidas campus. The host shot a video with Neuer in which he took a tour. A station is a large meeting room with a huge screen. “Here we will work on being prepared as well as possible so that we can beat the opposing teams,” said the captain into the camera.
Neuer leads through the dining room (“our lounge”), the medical area (“very important”) and the accommodations. “I’m very curious to see who lives in which block,” he says mysteriously. The 26-man squad will train during the tournament in the Adi-Dassler Stadium, which is also located on the site of the Adidas World of Sports. “This is where we will sweat, this is where we will work,” announces Neuer. The question is for how long? The hostel father Neuer wants to move out of “Home Ground” as late as possible.