Germany head coach Joachim Low has admitted France will be favourites when the two giants of European football meet in Munich on Thursday for the first game of UEFA’s new Nations League tournament.
The sides had widely contrasting experiences at the World Cup this summer, with Low’s 2014 champions meekly retreating after the group stage, while Didier Deschamps’ men marched all the way to glory in Moscow.
Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Low said: “The world champions are here tomorrow, we are not favourites, we lost the World Cup in the first round.
“Of course, we’ll do everything we can to beat France but it’s a process, the European Championship in 2020 is the key and that’s where we are aiming.”
Given the huge success he has enjoyed since taking over from Jurgen Klinsmann in 2006, Low has not faced demands for his head but many German fans have suggested the 58-year-old should axe this summer’s failures.
Those calls, however, have largely been resisted, with his squad for France and next week’s friendly with Peru containing only five players not in Russia.
“We have analysed what happened and you need a mix of experienced players – guys like (Mats) Hummels, (Jerome) Boateng, (Toni) Kroos and (Thomas) Muller,” he said.
“Maybe they didn’t perform as they would have liked but they’ve showed over a long period how good they are. Don’t forget, we won 10 qualification games.
“Of course, we need to get the ball rolling again but we don’t need to turn over every stone and start everything again.”
Low also rejected suggestions Germany should scrap its possession-based game and copy France’s counter-attacking style.
“We’ve been really successful for the last eight years, it would be nonsense to change our style completely,” he said.
“At the World Cup, the risk level was too high, we played too offensively. We have looked at all the data from 2010, 2012, 2014 and so on and we had a better balance then in terms of possession.”
Luke Shaw has returned to the England fold after his recent performances with Manchester United.
The left-back suffered a broken leg back in 2015 and it’s been a long road back from injury.
He discusses the match against Spain to come and more in the video below.
Real Madrid star Toni Kroos believes Leroy Sane can be a match-winner for Germany and Manchester City, providing he listens to advice and improves his body language.
Despite being a key part of City’s title-winning squad last season, Sane was not taken to the World Cup this summer by Germany – a decision that many pundits put down to his poor attitude when on international duty.
But after Germany’s chastening experience in Russia, the 22-year-old is back in the squad for Thursday’s Nations League opener against France in Munich.
This recall, however, has come at a time when he appears to have fallen out of favour at City, as he has not started for Pep Guardiola yet this season and was not even on the bench for last weekend’s win over Newcastle.
“He can be a world-class player, but he needs people who tell him what to do from time to time and to work on himself,” said Kroos, who will hope to feature in his country’s UEFA Nations League showdown with France on Thursday.
“That’s what Pep is doing at the moment with not selecting him. He wants to provoke him a bit.
“It is clear that you have to find a way to bring him to his top performance. If he is at his top performance, he is for us – with his qualities, which are relatively seldom if you are looking at our squad – a player who enriches us.
“He gives us definitely more options for our game, but obviously only if he is able to show that on the field.”