German team face an encouraging future

Celebrations for the dreamed of major triumph to come have already been practised. During the marketing session for the German Football Association, DFB, the German players had to rehearse for a film shoot their joyful responses if everything goes to plan in Kiev on the evening of July 1. The DFB’s preparations for the European Championship are slowly gaining pace, but national coach Joachim Loew introduces caution. The very optimistic forecasts, which at time appear as demands, are too much for him. The 52-year-old knows how quickly any team can fail in football. “Spain are and will remain favourites. We are among the lesser favourites”, said Loew in Munich. “Holland is a fantastic team. Portugal is technically extremely good. England and France can always play a prominent role at major tournaments. And I also want to mention Italy that has progressed well. The team no longer administrates football but plays offensively”.

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Philipp Lahm practises a celebration for a photo shoot for DFB sponsor Bitburger. (Photo: GES/Augenklick)


Loew refuses to surround his team with too high expectations. “I am often confronted by the allegation that this is an everything-or-nothing year”, Loew disclosed. “The team is still so young, their development has only just started”. Even if they fail to win Germany’s fourth title at the major tournament of the European Football Association (UEFA) in the summer of 2012, the future would still be rosy for German football. “Mario Goetze will still play in 2022, as will Mesut Oezil. Philipp Lahm and Bastian Schweinsteiger could still play at the tournaments in 2014 and 2016”. He himself is yet untouched by the pressure and stress building up prior to a European Championship. “I am far away from the hype. That’s why I am totally relaxed”.

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On the occasion of the marketing session on January 29-30, at which 23 internationals appeared (Podolski, Khedira, Mertesacker and Klose were missing), Loew also had discussions with his assistant coaches and chief scout Urs Siegenthaler. “We have decided who will watch the games of our European Championship opponents”, said Loew. In addition, the planning of training sessions, starting on May 11, has begun. On that day the players travel to Sardinia for the first one-week training camp. The players involved in the final of the DFB Cup in Berlin on May 12 will join the team afterwards. On May 18 the team will move on to the south of France for the second training camp, interrupted by an international friendly against Switzerland in Basle on May 26 and concluding with a match against Israel in Leipzig on June 1.

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Joachim Loew poses in front of an advertisement for the DFB’s general sponsor Mercedes-Benz during a marketing session for the German national team. (Photo: GES/Augenklick)

But the plans won’t be realised without complications. FC Bayern Munich has disrupted Loew’s plans by hosting on May 22 a friendly match against the national team of the Netherlands. Bayern’s internationals would have to interrupt the DFB training for the match in Munich. “I have already talked to Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and told him about the problems which could arise for the national team’s preparations with this test match. We shall now discuss the problem calmly in order to find a solution with which FC Bayern as well as the DFB can live”, said Wolfgang Niersbach, the future DFB President.

An FC Bayern friendly disrupts the national team’s training

The Bavarians had agreed the encounter with the World Cup runners-up, who will also be in the midst of their European Championship preparations at that time, with the Royal Dutch Football Association, KNVB, to settle a difference. After the 2010 World Cup FC Bayern had blamed the KNVB for Arjen Robben’s months-long injury. The Munich club should now reap compensation with the revenues from the match for the loss of their attacking star Robben. The public German TV station ARD will broadcast the match live. It would be impossible for the Bavarians to line-up without their international stars.

If the record-winning German champions reach the Champions League final in Munich on May 19, the Bayern players would join the national team at the second training camp in the south of France. Up to eight Munich players can well expect to be nominated for the squad Loew will announce at the beginning of May.

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“We have great aims”, Loew said at the first meeting of his team this year. During the marketing session he had been called a “great actor” by team manager Oliver Bierhoff. “I am certainly not a good actor”, replied Loew, rejecting the praise. “Some players are much better at acting.” At the Bavaria Film Studios and Hilton Hotel on the English Garden in Munich, 23 international players performed almost as convincingly as photo models and actors as they do on the pitch. Loew again and again talked to the players during the waiting times. “Tension is heightening. And that will increase month by month”, he stresses.

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Twins Lars (left) and Sven Bender at a photo shoot for clothing manufacturer Strenesse. (Photo: GES/Augenklick)

The only international match prior to the last phase in the European Championship preparations in May will take place in Bremen on February 29. France is one of the opponents against whom the German team have a negative record. They have won just seven of their 23 encounters and lost 10 (six draws). The last victory dates back more than 24 years, followed by four defeats and most recently a goalless draw in Paris in November 2005.