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The Year Ahead

DW staff / DPA (sp)January 3, 2007

For the first time in four years the German national side goes into the new year without the challenge of a major tournament to look forward to. But coach Joachim Löw is full of plans for 2007.

National coach Joachim LöwImage: AP

After a mammoth program of 18 international matches last year, the third-placed team from the World Cup will be taking things slightly easier this year -- playing just 12 games.

But Germany coach Joachim Löw is still going into the new year full of plans. "There will be several main areas of focus. The most important is the qualification for the 2008 European Championships," the 46-year-old said.

After the unforgettable experience of playing in the World Cup at home in June and July, 2007 is to be a year of continuity, building on the last year's positive results of 14 victories and just two defeats.

Fielding young blood

Löw, who replaced Jürgen Klinsmann as German national team coach after the World Cup last year, is also looking towards continuing playing offensive soccer and integrating talented youngsters.

"We will continue working towards playing attractive football and dominating our matches," he said. "We want to play successful and attractive football. We owe it to our fans to give them good games."

Löw is banking on established players like World Cup stars Michael Ballack or Miroslav Klose or youngsters such as Bastian Schweinsteiger, Lukas Podolski or Per Mertesacker.

He also wants to introduce newer faces like Stuttgart's Mario Gomez, Stefan Kiessling and Gonzalo Castro from Bayer Leverkusen or Borussia Mönhengladbach's Eugen Polanski.

"We need to make sure that we find a challenge for players like Podolski, Schweinsteiger and Philip Lahm," he said.

Fußball-Bundesliga, 16. Spieltag, VfB Stuttgart - VfL Bochum
Mario Gomez, who plays for Stuttgart, has taken the Bundesliga by stormImage: AP

Gomez, who has taken the Bundesliga by storm this season, could already receive his first cap on February 7, when Germany faces Switzerland. As striker Lukas Podolski will be suspended for the game, Gomez could well play against the 2008 Euro co-hosts.

"We do not just want to see the first and second choice players, we also want to see third and fourth choice players,' Löw's assistant Hans-Dieter Flick said.

Löw wants to look at fringe players in January with a future invitation depending on the progress in the Euro qualifiers.

Germany currently heads their group with 10 points and Löw is happy that the team managed such a good start to their campaign. "We took our World Cup form into the European qualifiers," he said.

Germany will be facing the Czech Republic in a top-of-the-table clash in Prague on March 24 and then face San Marino and Slovakia at home and with the top two teams from each group advancing to the finals in Austria and Switzerland Löw is hoping to have secured qualification well ahead of the final matches later in the year.

Gearing up for challenge

For Löw, who spent two years as assistant to Jürgen Klinsmann, the new job is not only challenging, but also enjoyable. "I am really enjoying the job. I have a lot of fun and a lot of passion," the 46-year-old said.

Although he has enjoyed the best-ever start for a German national coach with five victories and one draw, Löw is not looking towards resting on his laurels.

"The team is not yet fully developed. It is our aim to win the European Championship in 2008. Till then the team needs to face constant challenges," he said.