Thursday, 5 December 2013

Löw: "Every group will be tough", 03.12.2013

When Joachim Löw arrives in picturesque Costa do Sauipe following a 20-hour journey on Wednesday, the beauties of Brazil will be the last thing on his mind. Germany’s national coach was gripped by World Cup fever long before he touched down in South America for the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Final Draw (live on ARD from 17:00 CET) in the Brazilian spa town on the Atlantic coast.

Ahead of the draw, Löw spoke to the Sport-Informations-Dienst (SID) about the "primal force" in Brazil, the draw itself, the special conditions surrounding a South American tournament and his plans for the World Cup.

Question: Joachim Löw, how are you feeling ahead of Friday’s draw?

Joachim Löw: The excitement will start to mount when I’m sitting in the hall. I’m very happy to be going to Brazil, which is the ultimate football nation. I witnessed this at first hand during the summer: It was a great experience to see an entire nation getting behind a team and cheering, rooting for and suffering with them. I have never seen such enthusiasm, such intensity. There was a great sense of euphoria during the 2006 World Cup in our own country, but Brazil is even crazier about football, which is unimaginable for us. It’s going to be a very emotional World Cup.

Question: You are likely to be handed a difficult group. Does that concern you at all?

Löw: I won’t be having any sleepless nights over it, but it’s true we’re likely to face difficult opponents in the group stage.

Question: You’ve said that potential scenarios have been discussed during training. Have you got any preferences as regards the draw?

Löw: I think we have to accept the fact that there won’t be any groups with two or even three supposedly easier opponents, as there were eight or twelve years ago. The high overall standard will make every group fairly difficult: Every nation is likely to have to face certain obstacles during the group stage. The standard is unbelievably high. If you take a look at pots three and four, you realise it’s going to be difficult.

Question: You coped well with a tough group at EURO 2012. Might a challenging group even be beneficial so that you can hit the ground running?

Löw: I don’t think we’d go as far as to say that. On the other hand, we’ll take whatever draw we’re given. The players go into a tournament of this nature highly focused, whoever they play. They know what is at stake and how important it is to start the tournament with a win. You can’t beat the focus, the tension and the ambition a World Cup creates. You can sense it.

Question: You often talk about the special conditions in Brazil. What do you mean by that?

Löw: None of the European teams are used to playing football in South America. We will have to adapt – it makes a big difference for us whether we play in 15 or maybe even in 35 degrees Celsius. Conditions can change constantly from one venue to the next and the humidity can be extremely high. The travel times, the distances and the organisation are all completely different in comparison with Europe.

Question: Are you speaking from experience?

Löw: Yes, we experienced it ourselves during our visit for the Confederations Cup, but anyone who starts to moan and complain about these things has already lost – they waste too much energy. We’re expecting certain imponderables, but we’ll have to live with them and we’ll accept them.

Question: What other differences are there compared with European tournaments?

Löw: The South American playing style is different, as is the atmosphere inside the stadiums. There is a primordial force in this country, a football energy that I’d never witnessed before and which really impressed me at the Confederations Cup.

Question: Do the conditions in Brazil make things such as logistics and preparation even more important than usual?

Löw: It’s important to prepare our players for things that will be different compared with what we’re used to. We must adapt quickly to the conditions. Everyone has to concentrate on his game and forget about everything else. There’s a time difference, it’s loud and it’s hot, but whichever team wants to win the World Cup has to come to terms with all that. I’m sure we’ll cope.

Question: Is it true you’re planning on travelling from your base to the individual venues two days before each match?

Löw: That depends on the outcome of the draw. It’s possible, but we haven’t made a decision yet.

Question: Will you travel to South America earlier than in previous tournaments?

Löw: I think we’ll stick to our plan of travelling to South America at the start of June so as to adapt as well as possible.

Question: Is Uruguay a potential destination for your preparations?

Löw: We have several alternatives in that regard, but the choice also depends on who else is in our group. We’re considering several options, but won’t make a final decision before 6 December.

Question: When are you likely to decide on the location of your headquarters in Brazil?

Löw: We’ve got until 18 December. We’ll have another look at everything and take our time over the decision. It depends on where we’re playing and what time the matches start. Once we know all that, we’ll start thinking about who our opponents might be and about the preparations themselves.

Question: Germany are one of the favourites for the tournament. Is there a chance your team could succumb to the pressure?

Löw: We’ve been been among the favourites for previous tournaments, so we can live with that. I don’t think it will impair or hamper us in any way. Realistically, Brazil are the favourites. They are approaching their task with incredible discipline and organisation, they have great individual quality and huge support. They are also familiar with the conditions. Of the South American teams, Argentina and Colombia are also highly rated. Italy, Spain of course, Germany and also the Netherlands are among the European favourites.

Question: You have several injuries at present. Is that a concern ahead of the tournament?

Löw: Of course I’m concerned that Sami Khedira is out for some time with a torn cruciate ligament. We’ll have to wait and see, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he makes the World Cup, because he’s very ambitious and positive. I expect Bastian Schweinsteiger and Ilkay Gündogan, as well as Miroslav Klose and Mario Gomez, to have returned to full fitness by January. As national coach, it’s much more worrying if players injure themselves shortly before the tournament.

Question: Would you agree that a large part of the squad is already set in stone?

Löw: We have around 30 players overall. Of course, there are players who don’t enter into the equation, but there are also several places that are very much up for grabs. We have deliberately come up with alternatives, but I fervently hope that our best players don’t get injured. That’s an important prerequisite if you want to win the World Cup. Nothing could be harder than becoming World Champions. Everything has to be right, particularly in Brazil. Nobody can be injured, everyone has to be on top form and you need a little bit of luck.

Question: Do you have any wishes regarding your 112th game as national coach?

Löw: It would naturally be a dream if it were to take place in Rio. If we do make the final, we’re determined to win it, but there’s still a long, long way to go before then.

3 December 2013
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