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Friendly matches are not that important anymore, says Loew

Berlin (AFP) – Joachim Loew has told his Germany side to prove themselves in Tuesday’s friendly against France as the defending champions sharpen their preparations for next year’s World Cup.

Security will be tight in Cologne as the friendly takes place almost two years to the day since the Paris terror attacks of November 13, 2015, when 130 people were killed and over 400 injured.

On that night, three suicide bombers set off devices at the Stade de France during a France v Germany friendly and the shocked visiting players had to spend the night at the stadium during a security crackdown.

“Memories of that night still come back, it was a dramatic experience and one you would not want to experience again,” said Loew on Monday.

“Over time, you can block it out. I don’t feel unsafe and I have confidence in the security.”

Loew is on Tuesday set to field first-choice midfielders Sami Khedira and Toni Kroos, who missed Friday’s 0-0 draw against England at Wembley with a gastrointestinal infection.

“I want to see if certain players can prove themselves against the best,” said Loew.

“Mistakes could be made, which will be learnt from.

“I want to try things out and make changes during the game.

“We wanted two games in November against teams on the same level as us. We want to test a few things, but it will be a different game to the one against England.

“The French have players who always go forward, I think they will be more dangerous than England and we want to be better in that regard.”

Loew treated his squad to a speedboat ride down the River Thames after holding England at Wembley, but the players were all business in a high-tempo training session in Cologne on Sunday.

Loew will again field an experimental line-up with Paris Saint-Germain second-choice goalkeeper Kevin Trapp set to start.

The Germans came through their World Cup qualifying campaign with a perfect record of ten wins.

They will continue their demanding friendly schedule before the World Cup kicks off in Moscow next June, with friendlies against Spain and Brazil in March.

Tuesday’s game is unlikely to be a sell-out with just over 30,000 of the 45,000 available tickets sold.

“Friendly matches are not that important anymore, so you have to understand the public’s reaction,” said Loew.

“It is not the first time the stadium hasn’t sold out.”

– France ‘not at Germany’s level’ –

Germany are unbeaten in their last 20 matches, dating back to their 2-0 defeat by France in the semi-finals of Euro 2016 when Antoine Griezmann scored both goals in Marseille.

But French coach Didier Deschamps insisted that his side are still not at the same level as the world champions, who have reached at least the semi-finals at the last four World Cups.

“Germany are above us, by their experience in recent years,” France’s 1998 World Cup-winning captain Deschamps said.

“The international level requires time: the beginning of their (Germany’s) adventure was in 2006 or even 2004, and they won the biggest title in 2014.

“They are quality players who play for the biggest clubs, who have combined international experience with titles in the Champions League and other competitions.

“I have a lot of young players with lots of qualities, but who don’t have that experience.”

France are missing Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud, who picked up a thigh strain in Friday’s 2-0 win over Wales, while Barcelona winger Ousmane Dembele and Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba are sidelined with long-term injuries.

The hosts are without Bayern Munich defender Jerome Boateng, who also sat out the draw against England with a muscle problem.

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