Mats Hummels is confident Germany can hit form and add the European title to their World Cup crown.
The Bayern Munich-bound defender helped Joachim Low’s men to a 1-0 win over Northern Ireland and top spot in Group C at Euro 2016 on Tuesday.
The margin of victory might have been a lot more handsome but for an inspired display from Irish goalkeeper Michael McGovern, as Germany’s attacking talents – on the back of a limp 0-0 draw against Poland last week – clicked into gear during a superb first-half showing.
“We are always confident because we know what we are able to do,” said Hummels.
“If we work hard in defence and create as many chances as we did against Northern Ireland, of course it’s very difficult to play against us.
“But we know it will be hard work for us to get to the quarter-final, the semi-final, maybe to the final. It won’t be easy but we are able to manage, of course.
“Winning would be very big again, of course. If you manage to win both tournaments that’s all you can achieve as a national team player. It’s a very big goal for us, this tournament.
“We’re focused to get it done. It’s not something you have to make. It’s something you can make, but it’s not like it would be a big disappointment if we face a really good team like Italy or Spain or France or England, then it’s always possible to lose against them.”
— Germany (@DFB_Team_EN) June 21, 2016
Mario Gomez marked his recall to the Germany starting XI with the decisive goal at the Parc des Princes and the Fiorentina striker provided a much-needed muscular presence in attack as Low ditched his false-nine system.
Further variety was added to Germany’s work by Joshua Kimmich at right-back, the Bayern Munich youngster who was preferred to Benedikt Howedes and brought a tremendous range of passing to his flank.
Both players left Hummels suitably impressed.
“Mario was very important for us,” he said. “We need his presence in the box, we needed his strength for the big defenders from Northern Ireland so we could create more space for the others and create more chances for him.
“He made a good job himself by working for his chances and using his body in duels.
“Joshua made a good game. It was no big surprise because we know what he can do and what he is able to do.
“He is a very good, talented young player. Maybe it won’t be his last appearance in the tournament, but his future is bright.”
Germany’s previous performances in France garnered criticism back home, with midfielder Sami Khedira hitting back to label former captain Michael Ballack’s assertion that the lack leaders as “comedy”.
“It’s always the same,” Hummels added. “If we don’t win a game there are 10,000 things you have to criticise in Germany.
“At the end of the day you’ll never win every game. You kind of get used to it but, of course, if we see it differently we just have to say it like we did last week.”