BERLIN, June 6 (Xinhua) — Five days ahead of the UEFA 2020 European Championship opening game between Italy and Turkey, the German squad remains the tournament’s dark horse.
Facing 2018 World Cup winners France, 2016 European champions Portugal and underdogs Hungary in Group F, everything from a spectacular failure to a total triumph seems possible for Joachim Low’s squad.
Nine days ahead of the curtain-raiser against France on June 15, Low must solve several crucial issues.
Seeking a successful farewell after 15 years in charge, the German coach is spreading optimism.
“We can beat world-class sides such as France and Portugal. We have to act fearlessly as fear paralyzes,” the 61-year-old stated ahead of the team’s last pre-tournament friendly against Latvia on Monday evening in Dusseldorf.
While departing, Low talked about “the right challenge” to mark his retirement as the Germans seem stuck in a debate about the team’s tactical approach.
Reports spoke of Bayern players being critical about Low’s attempt to implement a back-row of three – five when out of possession – to create more stability.
Bayern players such as Joshua Kimmich, Leon Goretzka, Leroy Sane, Serge Gnabry and Thomas Muller favor a back-chain of four, as the system allows an additional midfielder.
Low considers facing better-equipped sides such as France and Portugal in a more cautious way as he regards keeping a clean sheet as the key to surviving the group.
A team falling apart into diverging groups led to an early departure at the 2018 World Cup, Low and association director Oliver Bierhoff discovered.
This time they initiated measures to create a healthy team spirit “as we might have felt too complacent in Russia,” said Bierhoff.
“To have doubts and second thoughts keeps you awake and ready to act right away if things go in the wrong direction,” the former striker stated.
Association staff investigated the Champions League winner’s strategy of the past 20 years, discovering all successful teams relied on a regular axis of on-pitch leaders not changing their line-up significantly.
Mats Hummels, Antonio Rudiger, Kimmich, Toni Kroos, and Muller make Low’s framing axis.
Training observers witnessed increasing drills in front of the goal aside from lessons dealing with dead-ball situations in front of both goals.
Loew’s front-line decisions appear a gamble. While Gnabry, Sane and Muller are sure to start, Kevin Volland, Kai Havertz and Timo Werner are waiting in the wings.
Sane and Gnabry recently faced criticism for wasting too many chances. “We need to push and coach ourselves intensively,” Kimmich said. “We have the potential to achieve maximum success, but we need to invest all we have.”