Frankfurt (dpa) – Germany coach Joachim Loew praised his side for reaching Euro 2020 with a game to spare and called for victory against Northern Ireland on Tuesday to ensure they win qualifying Group C.
“We’re in the midst of a rebuild and had to deal with several injuries,” Loew told reporters in Frankfurt on Monday ahead of the campaign conclusion.
“We were faced with several tough matches, but successfully managed to qualify. I’m very proud of the team.”
Germany lost at home to the Netherlands but have an otherwise perfect record in the group. The Dutch drawing in Belfast on Saturday means Germany will finish first with three points against the eliminated Northern Irish.
That would ensure top seeding in the finals draw in Bucharest on November 30 and – theoretically at least – a slightly easier group next year.
“We want to win our next match and finish first in our group, regardless of how the draw will be,” said Loew. “That’s our goal.”
Loew said that captain Manuel Neuer would be left out to give back-up keeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen time between the posts while the injured left back Nico Schulz will be replaced by Jonas Hector.
Real Madrid star Toni Kroos, who scored twice in Saturday’s 4-0 demolition of Belarus, will retain his place in midfield alongside Joshua Kimmich and Ilkay Guendogan.
“We still have to make some steps, the team has a lot of potential and quality,” said Loew. “The team is emitting a lot of very positive energy overall, also off the pitch.”