Munich (dpa) – With the draw made for Euro 2020, Joachim Loew knows exactly what awaits his remodelled young Germany side: “Huge tasks.”
In an interview with dpa, Loew looks back on the year of reconstruction that was 2019, and ahead to next summer’s finals – at which he refuses to entertain a repeat of World Cup 2018, when his side went home after the group stages. “2018 is behind us,” he says.
Yet, despite Germany having qualified from their group in first place, their opponents in Euro 2020 group F could scarcely be tougher: world champions France and defending European champions Portugal.
“I didn’t necessarily expect such a draw,” the 59-year-old says. “But I feel in myself a keen sense of anticipation, because these are ties that everyone’s looking forward to, that promise excitement. They’re football highlights. The fans look forward to such a group.”
With their three group games to be played in Munich Germany do, at least, have home advantage. “We’re playing in our own country, so we’re hoping for the backing of the home fans,” Loew says. “Of course there are high expectations but I hope the players can enjoy such ties. They should go boldly and unworried into the tournament.”
After Germany’s calamitous exit in Russia and the ugly fall-out that saw Arsenal’s Mesut Oezil retire from international football, Loew was given a chance afforded few German managers: rather than being ordered to clear his desk, he was allowed to rebuild.
His decision to effectively end the international careers of Bayern Munich stalwarts Jerome Boateng, Thomas Mueller and Mats Hummels met incredulity in some quarters of the German press and was criticized by Bayern’s top brass.
The three are international veterans but hardly of retirement age – Mueller was just 29 when Loew made his decision – but Germany’s coach of 13 years says the decision allowed a much-needed rebuild.