Joachim Löw names France as World Cup rivals and will give fringe players a chance | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 07.10.2017
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Joachim Löw names France as World Cup rivals and will give fringe players a chance

Germany still have one qualifier left, against Azerbaijan on Sunday, but Joachim Löw has already set his sights on Russia 2018. Löw has pinpointed France as one of the biggest threats and will ring the changes on Sunday.

Speaking at a press conference in Mainz on Saturday, Joachim Löw said he knows how difficult it will be to find the same level of performance his team showed when they became world champions in Brazil.

"It will be the hardest tournament. Everyone else can only win. That is an initial situation that is not very easy. That means, to repeat [as World Cup winners], we need have success as a team, with every individual player," Löw said.

"In 2014, we won the World Cup without a big superstar. We won with a team performance where everyone brought something to the team and gave everything for the team. That’s what we have to do next year."

FIFA 2018 WM Qualifikation Frankreich - Niederlande Kylian Mbappe (picture-alliance/abaca/C. Liewig)

Löw says young talents like Kylian Mbappe make France a threat

Germany have won all nine of their World Cup qualifying matches so far, most recently topping Northern Ireland 3-1 in Belfast to clinch their World Cup qualification, meaning Sunday's clash is a dead rubber.

"We can be completely satisfied with our qualification, also the manner with which we played," Löw said. "Regardless of our opponent, we got a clear result. That speaks to the team. That speaks to the concentration."

Germany have depth, but so do others

In 2017 Germany have regularly showcased their strength in depth at international level. They won the Confederations Cup with many of their World Cup stars absent and were victorious in the under-21 Euros. According to Löw, regular playing time at club level is a key reason for their success.

"There are players in the Bundesliga that one way or another are playing," Löw said.

But Germany is not the only country with an embarrassment of riches. Löw singled out France, the team that eliminated Germany in the semifinals of last year’s Euros, as a country with similar playing resources.

"We aren’t the only ones with depth. France has players like [Ousmane] Dembele and [Kylian] Mbappe who are 18 or 19 years old and already play at a high level," Löw said.

Löw said he is going to use Germany’s international friendlies in November and March to test the country’s strength in depth. He has also committed to making three changes against Azerbaijan and will once again start Leon Goretzka, who excelled at the Confederations Cup, in midfield. Leroy Sane and Emre Can are also set to start. 

However, with only a handful of international matches remaining before the World Cup, Löw emphasized that it's on the players to remain fit and prepare themselves for the tournament. "Everyone has to get themselves ready and have the hunger that this tournament needs."

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