Germany made it three wins out of three in UEFA Euro 2020 qualifying with a 2-0 win over Belarus followed by an emphatic 8-0 thumping of Estonia in Mainz. Although they have a relatively easy qualifying group with the exception of the Netherlands, Die Mannschaft has looked far more like itself compared to their lackluster campaigns in both the UEFA Nations League and World Cup 2018.
In a recent interview with Bild, Bayern Munich and Germany midfielder Leon Goretzka said that he feels the national team has taken massive strides forward from their utterly disappointing World Cup last summer. They now have a young and hungry squad comprised of many of the players that won the U-21 Championships and the Confederations Cup in 2017. Goretzka said,
The transition is underway. We now have a very young, hungry squad, that is really eager to win and get titles. When you look back — won the U-21 Euro, finalist at the Olympics, won the Confederations Cup — a considerable part of that team has now arrived on the top national team. There’s a lot of potential there. We’re currently in the phase of channeling this potential and bringing on the field.
Like most players on Germany’s squad, Goretzka chalks up the World Cup as one of the worst experiences of his career, but he insists he learned a lot from it:
It was definitely the most negative experience of my career so far. We talked about it at length again in the group, too. But you can learn from it and draw your conclusions. We’re in the process of doing that right now, in order to put everything back on track for success.
With a perfect qualifying record thus far, expectations for Germany to go far in Euro 2020 are high. Die Mannschaft is no stranger to high expectations, but Gortetzka feels that the team is ready to do their nation proud come time for the tournament, as they refine their new 3-4-3 formation:
We’re still at the beginning of qualifications. We first have to show that we’ll go through the qualifications with with ease. But of course Germany is a soccer nation. You’re counted among the favorites even solely on account of past successes. Our strategy is that we want to win, no matter against who. So we can set that as our goal. The fact that we safely qualify takes precedence over everything else. And also things like refining the modified system.
Consistency will be key for Die Mannschaft. They had a perfect qualifying record in their 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign, winning all 10 matches before severely under-performing in the World Cup finals. Realistically, the Netherlands are the only other high-caliber team in Germany’s qualifying group, so Germany cannot afford to let complacency creep in leading up to the tournament itself. Joachim Löw was heavily criticized for his team selection prior to the World Cup and Nations League. He will have to make sure he keeps the balance of the squad just right to ensure the best possible team is playing together come next summer.