Germany assistant coach Thomas Schneider rejected suggestions his team lack leaders ahead of their Euro 2016 match against Northern Ireland in Paris.
The world champions are yet to hit peak form in France, where they followed an opening 2-0 win over Ukraine with a dour 0-0 draw against Poland at the Stade de France.
Their arrival on the other side of the capital for Monday’s pre-match news conference was delayed due to traffic congestion, while boss Joachim Low was laid low with a sore throat.
Low’s absence was a somewhat unhelpful irony for number two Schneider, as he sought to argue the post-World Cup retirements of seasoned performers such as Philipp Lahm and Miroslav Klose were not hindering Germany’s current line-up.
“Sami [Khedira] has done a good interview on that, I think [claims of no leaders] is comedy,” he said.
“We’ve noticed and read about that, but we have enough leaders in the team and we’ve shown that in the past.”
— Dom Farrell (@DomFarrell1986) June 20, 2016
One area where there is an inarguable shortfall for Germany is at centre-forward, with Mario Gotze having struggled to impose himself in the false-nine position during the previous two matches.
A central role for Thomas Muller – despite Gotze’s Bayern Munich colleague appearing to be similarly off-colour – or naming Mario Gomez from the start are alternatives for Low, while some reports suggest Schalke livewire Leroy Sane is also in contention as Germany aim to close out top spot in Group C on Tuesday.
“I don’t know which newspapers said this,” Schneider responded. “[Sane] is doing great work, just like the other players. Maybe he will have his chance in the tournament.
“We want to win this game and we want to win the group. There might be slight changes, but I don’t want to talk too much about that.”
Centre-back Mats Hummels concedes a lack of first-hand familiarity with Northern Ireland’s players could complicate matters for Germany, with Michael O’Neill’s side buoyant following the shock 2-0 win that dumped Ukraine out of the tournament.
“The good thing is we analyse the opposition, we know about them,” Hummels said. “We’ve seen already in recent days and will go more in depth tomorrow.
“It’s not a great secret to us, but you’re right, if you’ve played a couple of times you know their tricks, that’s not the case for Northern Ireland players. They’re not going to be strangers to us.
“We’ll analyse them as well as possible, I’ll see videos of their strikers. I hope I will not get to know them on the pitch.”
He added: “The British teams are very similar in that style of play. We played Scotland and Ireland in qualifiers. We saw how strong, physically and mentally, and how passionate they are.
“We know it’s a possibility they can gain the confidence to beat us if we let them. We try to be the best team from first minute so they don’t start believing in themselves that they can win.”
- Soccer News Like
- Be the first of your friends!