Despite last-minute roster shuffling on account of injuries and other messy details, German national coach Joachim Löw had his team put forward fresh faces at the team press conference yesterday in Leroy Sané and Julian Draxler. Sané, now reunited with the team after being dropped from Germany’s 2018 World Cup roster, made the most of his chance at redemption, as he himself was a subject of discussion.
Draxler and Sané rebut Kroos
Draxler was the first to speak. Asked about his relationship with Sané, the PSG star emphasized Sané’s personal quality:
We’ve known each other a long time, since Schalke. Leroy doesn’t have a weak character or anything else. You can go to bat for him over that. There aren’t any problems between him and me at all. On the contrary, we’re good friends.
Sané was likewise asked about his feelings after being dropped from Löw’s World Cup roster and the comments of his teammate Toni Kroos, who stunned the media at a similar DFB Team conference by declaring that Sané’s body language made him seem indifferent to winning or losing with the team.
Sané addressed Kroos’s criticism without naming the veteran midfielder:
Of course I was disappointed not to be there. For that reason I’m obviously even more motivated. I want to show myself everywhere I can, try to enjoy the time, and to learn. I’m not going out of my way by saying “I don’t care about anything.” When I play poorly, I obviously care about it. I might sometimes seem that way to someone or another. That’s fine by me. I don’t have any problem with criticism. It’s even good for me. I’m trying to work on it.
The midfielder also addressed his effort to establish a place on the team for himself, reflecting on the disappointing performances he delivered for Germany in the games prior to the World Cup. Asked specifically about his position, Sané responded,
It’s not so much to do with my position. It didn’t work too well with me here. I’m working on fitting into the team better and being able to show myself in a better light. I thought a lot during the summer break and am trying to improve my game so that next time Jogi won’t have the option of not calling me up.
Draxler and Kehrer at PSG
Draxler, for his part, discussed his and former Schalke man Thilo Kehrer’s status at Paris Saint-Germaine, now coached by Thomas Tuchel:
Of course it’s a special situation. Since Thomas Tuchel is also German, we also talk about the national team. He wishes us lots of luck for the games. Thilo has been there [in Paris] a few weeks now and already speaks French. He’s on the right track toward making his way on our team.
Concerning his own difficult start to the season, Draxler was candid:
At the beginning of the season, [my place] was very humble. After the World Cup, I had problems with my body; recently things have been looking up. I have a very good relationship with Tuchel. We talk; I know what he wants from me. I also know that the competition is brutal. I’m sticking to it, and the coach knows that he can count on me.
Sluggish Germany, sluggish Bayern
Both Germany and Bayern Munich’s similar problems on offense were mentioned. Draxler acknowledged Germany’s sluggishness in the final third:
We have already analyzed that we are moving a bit too slowly and sluggishly on offense. The tournament demonstrated it: France played deep, won the ball, and came into the final third at a furious pace. Therefore we have to recalibrate things.
Assistant coach Marcus Sorg responded to journalists’ questions about the delegation from Bayern Munich in light of the club’s current form:
I would have liked to hear you if the Bayern players had been grinning at Oktoberfest... They are still top players, who are very experienced with dealing with success and failure. It’s incredibly important that we have such a bloc. Particularly as concerns the Nations League: you can’t take any liberties. It’s an incredibly great challenge to play against top teams in Europe. That’s why we’re so happy about this [Bayern] bloc.
They have already shown that they can cope with the situation. We’ll get the players to find that certain easiness again. It’s a good opportunity to get out of the daily grind in another environment. It also has to do with the joy they come with to practice and the intensity they train with. We already saw yesterday and today that they are absolutely determined.
Germany’s Nations League match against the Netherlands takes place in Amsterdam on Saturday at 8:45pm CET / 2:45pm EST