Ahead of Germany’s international friendly with Japan on Saturday, Bundestrainer Hansi Flick, new captain Ilkay Gündogan and other key players have been giving their thoughts ahead of the match. Here are the key thoughts of the protagonists…
“We have changed a lot in terms of the idea of how we want to play football. We conveyed that to the team. We are convinced of the way. The game against the U20s was important. It’s difficult when you only play eleven against eleven among yourself because everyone knows what you’re up to. The goals we scored will give us confidence. These are things that are important.
“Life is always about learning from past mistakes. We wanted to test, try. It’s been over since June. We have now agreed on a playing philosophy and conveyed this to the team. The training sessions were good. We are satisfied. We want to see an active team, intensity. We want to gain confidence through a good game. That’s the bottom line.
“Japan have an interesting team that inflicted the decisive defeat on us at the World Cup. I like football, Japan is very variable, has very well-trained players, plays attacking and beautiful football. The team has developed very, very well in recent years. I’m looking forward to the game and hope we do well in it.”
“I am very pleased about the trust of the national coach and the team. It is a great honour for me to be national team captain and to be able to lead this young team onto the pitch. The office also comes with great responsibility. But my experience at Manchester City has shown that I can live up to it.
“We all constantly question ourselves. What’s important is that we play a good game tomorrow and get a good result – something that hasn’t happened for a while. But I was always convinced that we had enough quality to compete with the biggest nations on an equal footing. But you have to constantly prove it. If you can no longer do that, you also have to ask the question of quality.
“They are unpleasant games [Japan and France]. We are starting the hot phase of the European Championship year. We don’t have much time left. We don’t have any more friendly games now. We have to approach every single game according to this motto.”
“We know exactly what is at stake. We are also a bit indebted to the coach because we are the ones who have to go on the pitch and achieve the results. We definitely want to do that now, first against Japan, then against France.
“We have to create a spirit of optimism, get the nation behind us. Everyone here, and I can assure everyone, is aware of the seriousness of the situation. We have to deliver, and that’s what we will do.
“Union characterizes this family a bit, this common ploughing and labour to be successful. And I believe that is also the basis for this course and the basis for a successful time and, in the long term, also for a successful European Championship. To be honest, it’s not that difficult for me because it’s in my DNA, this ploughing, this hard work.”
“The boys have welcomed me into the group and I’m having a great time. This is such an exciting opportunity and moment for me in my career. It came as a total shock to me because there wasn’t any contact beforehand, so it really did come out of the blue, but meant I was overjoyed when they got in touch. It’s always been a dream for me to represent my country, and I’m so grateful that I’ve been given the chance to do so.
“It’s difficult to see the bigger picture from an outside perspective, so I’m just trying to form my own opinions and to get to know the team while finding my place within the squad.”
Marc-André ter Stegen
“I’m number one right now. I’ve been waiting for this moment for a long time and I believe I can seize the moment. I will do everything to keep my status.
“We have three goalkeepers here, all of whom have high expectations of themselves and that means I’m in a position where I can now play my games and prove myself at the highest level with the boys. I just want to show my performance and be a support for the team.”
“The formation Hansi chooses for our game will be the best possible one that suits us players. I don’t prefer a particular system.
“Feeling unfairly treated in football is always relatively stupid because you can’t influence everything yourself and it’s not just your own performance that counts. It’s not like in tennis, for example, where you are solely responsible. In football, sometimes other people make decisions and you have to accept that. There is no room to sulk, what matters is how you deal with the criticism.
“I wasn’t here the last two times and I’m happy to be back here with the national team and with my colleagues. This is not a topic that has only been with me since yesterday. I think Hansi and I have a very good relationship and have celebrated many successes together. That’s why we actually have an open and honest relationship. He told me his reasons. I have to accept that, but I don’t always have to understand it one-on-one, because in my opinion I had a good year in Dortmund and in my opinion I deserved to be there.
“Sometimes in sport you don’t share the same opinion and you don’t have to accept decisions. Now I’m trying to justify that he made the right decision, that I’m back.”
“Anyone would be lying if they don’t remember the World Cup, but I think it will be a different game this time. Now we have a friendly match and we clearly want to win the game and show that it was a slip-up at the World Cup.
“Flo [Florian Wirtz] is an outstanding guy. He had a serious injury last season and fought back brilliantly. I see him plodding in the weight room every day, before and after training. He gives us a lot of joy and flexibility. He’s also incredibly fast with the ball, which many might not notice. I hope for him that he brings his qualities to the national team in the future, just as he did in Leverkusen.”