Without four Bayern stars, but with three newcomers: The DFB-Elf starts after a 288-day break in the international competition year 2020 – and not only has to do with the Corona “bubble”.
Joachim Löw looked from a safe distance at the waiting journalists behind the barrier, the national coach straightened his white mask and happily declined the interview requests. The national team around substitute captain Toni Kroos also moved on Monday afternoon without a word and with mouth and nose protection to the Stuttgart Wald-Hotel, where they first disinfected their hands. Then they underwent a corona test and spent the time until the result was obtained in the chamber alone.
“The first thing the players did was have a Pap smear,” said team doctor Tim Meyer. But although the stars, isolated from the outside world, adhere to all conceivable security measures, Meyer also knows: “Absolute security is not there with Corona. We can only try to increase security as much as possible.”
Löw: “It’s nice that we are getting closer to normal again”
Almost ten months after the last meeting of the German national football team, nothing is as it used to be. The DFB team starts the EM season from a “bubble”, as Oliver Bierhoff emphasized. Nothing should jeopardize the start of the Nations League with the matches on Thursday in Stuttgart against Spain and three days later in Basel against Switzerland (both 8.45 p.m. / ZDF).
Bierhoff recently joked that living in the “bubble” of the DFB “had already been blamed,” but in this case it must be viewed from a medical point of view. When greeted in the hotel lobby, he refrained from hugging and instead put his fist at the kickers. According to Bierhoff, the DFB entourage will “stay at the hotel, no visitors, no toothpaste”. , except for practices and matches The match against Spain will also take place without a spectator.
For Löw, despite the special circumstances, it is “nice that we are getting closer to normal”. During the first training in small groups on Monday evening in the ADM sports park of the Stuttgarter Kickers, depending on the stress level, all players with a negative test result must participate. This also applied to the legionnaires Kroos (Real Madrid), Thilo Kehrer and Julian Draxler (both Paris St. Germain), who came from risk areas but no longer had to be in quarantine.
Löw (60) himself is bursting with action after the 288-day international break in 70 years. He “can’t wait to be back on the field with the players and back to work”.
International competitions as “life insurance”
The goals remain high – Corona or not. “Maximum success must be our goal,” emphasizes assistant coach Marcus Sorg.
The coaching team will pay a lot of attention to the returnees Leroy Sane and Niklas Süle. The Bayern pros are fit again after their serious cruciate ligament injuries, but must “get into a training and competition rhythm,” said Löw. The national coach’s mantra also applies here: “The highest priority is next year’s EM.”
Newcomer Robin Gosens (left) in training next to Ilkay Gündogan: The Atalanta Bergamo defender celebrates his international debut. (Source: Rudel sports photo / image images)
The upcoming international double with newcomers Robin Gosens, Florian Neuhaus and Oliver Baumann is not just a test. Unlike in the premiere year, it is important for the DFB team to avoid relegation from the Nations League. In addition, the results have a direct influence on whether Germany ends up in pot 1 or 2 in the draw for World Cup qualification. Still, Löw does without the heavily burdened three-time Munich winners Manuel Neuer, Serge Gnabry, Leon Goretzka and Joshua Kimmich at the start. He also equips the semi-finalists of the Leipzig Champions League, Lukas Klostermann and Marcel Halstenberg. “Nobody asked me for it,” emphasized Low.
The national coach knows that he should not ruin things with the clubs when hunting for appointments. After all, eight international matches are scheduled for the Nations League group final on November 17 in Spain. Even for Low this is a “borderline” mammoth program, he personally would have preferred “two or three training units”. But the German Football Association (DFB) urgently needs the income from these international matches. Secretary General Friedrich Curtius recently called them “our life insurance”.