Germany’s coach Joachim speaks to the media. Agence France-Presse
Germany head coach Joachim Loew has urged his side to take out their “anger and disappointment” from the humiliating defeat against Spain when they host Iceland on Thursday.
Their opening World Cup qualifier in Duisburg will be their first appearance since Loew’s men were thrashed 6-0 in Seville last November.
In the wake of the Spanish debacle, Loew expects “a reaction from the team” after Germany’s heaviest defeat in 89 years.
“We all made mistakes against Spain,” Loew admitted in a press conference on Wednesday.
“It was a slip-up, completely below the level expected.”
Loew wants to keep selecting his strongest team between now and Euro 2020 in June, after which he will step down after 15 years in charge.
“I can’t think anymore about who to rest or play - that time is over,” Loew added.
Real Madrid midfielder Toni Kroos is out with a groin injury and Manchester City’s Ilkay Gundogan will take his place alongside Bayern Munich’s Joshua Kimmich. Bayern goalkeeper Manuel Neuer will captain the side with Leroy Sane and Serge Gnarby likely to start on the wings either side of Chelsea striker Timo Werner.
Loew wants three wins from three qualifiers, as Germany also face Romania away on Sunday and North Macedonia in Duisburg next Wednesday, to “lay the groundwork” for June’s European Championship.
“We don’t just want to start the qualifying phase with good results, we want a positive performance to show our fans after a disappointing end to 2020,” said Loew.
ENRIQUE LAUDS YOUTH TALENT: Spain coach Luis Enrique has had only a few days to work with some of the youngsters he called up for the national team for the first time. He already likes what he sees.
Luis Enrique praised some of the newcomers on Wednesday, especially 18-year-old Pedri González and 20-year-old Bryan Gil. They are among a group of players he brought up from the under-21 squad ahead of World Cup qualifying.
“Pedri already does wonderful things despite his age,” Luis Enrique said of the Barcelona playmaker who has become a regular starter under coach Ronald Koeman. “He is humble, intelligent and a hard worker. He’s a great teammate as well. What I see is a top-level player.”
The praise for Gil was just as high.
Gil, Pedri and the other youngsters called up by Luis Enrique were expected to be leading Spain’s under-21 squad at the European Championship in Slovenia and Hungary.
Spain hosts Greece in the southern Spanish city of Granada in its first Group B match on Thursday and will be without striker Gerard Moreno because of a muscle injury. The team then plays Georgia and Kosovo. Thursday’s match will be Spain’s first since routing Germany 6-0 in the Nations League last year.
SCOTS CHALLENGED: Scotland manager Steve Clarke has challenged his players to show they are not “one-tournament wonders” as they start their World Cup qualifiers looking to build on their run to Euro 2020.
Scotland will end a 23-year absence from major tournaments when they feature at the delayed European Championship starting in June.
But Clarke’s men must refocus as they begin their qualifying campaign to reach the 2022 World Cup against Austria on Thursday.
The former Chelsea defender is keen for his side to show their long-awaited return to prominence is not a flash in the pan.
Scotland last qualified for the World Cup in 1998 and will be playing at the European Championship for the first time since 1996.
Clarke will kick off on the road to Qatar without Rangers midfielder Ryan Jack, who has a calf problem.
He has still call on John Fleck and Kenny McLean as alternatives, while Manchester United’s Scott McTominay could move forward into his natural midfield position.