Lille (France) (AFP) – Germany boss Joachim Loew is adamant the world champions cannot blame bad luck with injuries if they fail to match their Brazil success from two years ago at the European Championship finals.
Marco Reus, Ilkay Gundogan and Antonio Ruediger all missed out on Loew’s 23-man squad — the youngest of any side at the 24-team event in France — due to injuries.
Loew admitted that Mats Hummels is unlikely to be fit to partner new Bayern Munich teammate Jerome Boateng in central defence in Sunday’s opener against Ukraine in Lille, but is confident he will be fit to face Poland on Thursday.
“There are no sorrows about injuries,” said Loew, who will take charge of Germany for the third time at the Euros after finishing runners-up in 2008 and falling to Italy in the semi-finals four years ago.
“Hummels has got himself back to 100 percent training individually and now he has joined the squad training.
“Maybe tomorrow will be too early, but we can count on him for next week.
“All the other players are fit, everybody could train today.”
Erratic form in qualifying and in the build-up to the Euros has eroded the confidence of Loew’s men since defeating Argentina to win a fourth World Cup two years ago.
Germany suffered away defeats to both Ireland and Poland in qualifying and threw away a two-goal lead to lose 3-2 at home to England in March.
An inexperienced side including several debutants lost to Slovakia last month before a full-strength side struggled to see off Hungary last Saturday.
After weeks of preparation, Loew insisted he is desperate to finally get underway. However, he stressed pre-tournament favourites France’s struggles in squeezing past Romania 2-1 on Friday is a lesson that Europe’s giants will be thoroughly tested by less-fancied nations.
“We have had two or three weeks of preparation and now I am itching to get finally started.
“When I saw France, we have seen what we can expect. The so called underdogs are getting better and better in defence so it might be quite difficult against these teams, especially in the group stages.”
Yet, Loew is confident, despite the youthful average age of his squad, he has the experienced core in the likes of captain Bastian Schweinsteiger, Thomas Mueller and Mesut Ozil to handle the pressure of an expectant nation.
“I have more experience, but there is always tension as regards the preparation. It’s not pressure, it is happiness.
“Germany always suffers from pressure, but we can cope with this pressure that is not an issue for us at all.
“We have players with a lot of experience in great games, beating the host nation Brazil 7-1 in the semi-finals (of the 2014 World Cup), we have had a couple of semi-finals and finals so we are used to that.”
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