Germany on Monday refused to accept the underdogs tag in their Euro 2020 Group F opener against world champions France on Tuesday, saying they were out to win the game and pay back fans for a disappointing World Cup campaign three years ago.
The Germans will play their group matches in Munich and captain Manuel Neuer said their shock 2018 World Cup first-round exit meant they had to make amends in front of a 14,000 home crowd.
“It is very important to start with a successful result,” goalkeeper Neuer told a virtual news conference. “We know we owe the fans something after the last tournament. We hope to excite them with the way we will play and we need their support.”
With 2014 world champions Thomas Mueller and Mats Hummels back in the squad after more than two years, Germany are going into the tournament with a largely untested team after an overhaul in 2019 was cut short by the COVID-10 pandemic and a string of bad results.
The three-times European champions are not among the title favourites this time, unlike France.
“We know France have been successful in the past years,” Neuer said. “But we are still a very good team, uncomfortable to play against.
“We have respect for them but we don’t see ourselves as the underdogs. We want to win the game here in Munich,” he said.
Germany coach Joachim Loew, in his final tournament before stepping down after 15 years in charge, is set to include Leon Goretzka in his squad, with the midfielder having recovered from injury and having trained several times with the team.
Midfielder Jonas Hofmann is not expected to feature.
“Apart from Jonas, all players trained, including Leon. Leon has done four or five sessions with the team. He has left a very good impression and there seems to be nothing left from his injury,” Loew said.
“What will be important tomorrow is to do what the team has showed in the past 14 days,” he said. “That we are brimming with ambition and confidence, that we will go into the one-on-ones and we will throw everything into this game.”
Germany also play European champions Portugal before taking on Hungary in their last group game.
Deschamps wary of Germany attacking threat ahead of Euro opener
France coach Didier Deschamps said it is not just his own side’s attacking threat that can cause problems as he prepares to take on Germany in the European Championship in Munich on Tuesday.
Much has been made of the firepower Deschamps has at his disposal ahead of France’s tournament opener against Germany, with Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema back in the squad and set to line up alongside Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann in attack.
But the France coach, who is looking to become the first person ever to win the World Cup and European Championships as player and manager this summer, said Germany have plenty of attacking options to worry his side’s defence, too.
“There is individual quality in each position but the players can play in very different positions, they can be flexible, which is difficult to play against,” Deschamps told a news conference on Monday.
“There are players like (Timo) Werner or (Leroy) Sane who have a very different playing style and tomorrow we will see who is playing in attack for Germany.
“Their attackers are important for the German team, and we have to try stop them having an impact on the game and how successful we are depends how we move and are positioned on the pitch.”
France made an unconvincing start to the 2018 World Cup before going on to win the tournament, struggling past Australia with a nervy 2-1 victory in their opening group match.
Deschamps insisted that performance mattered little given the final outcome, and played down the significance of putting in a strong showing in the group opener.
“The reality is that the first match is important but it is not decisive, both teams have two more matches after this,” Deschamps added.
“The quality of our opponent we face tomorrow turns the match into a fantastic encounter. We are two of the best teams in Europe, it is all about who can be clinical and take chances.”
Speaking at the same news conference, France captain Hugo Lloris revealed his anguish at hearing former Tottenham Hotspur team mate Christian Eriksen had collapsed following a cardiac arrest on the pitch on Saturday, before being taken to hospital.
“We received information after training and we were worried, and stressed out,” Lloris said. “And then we got the note that he felt better.
“These are pictures that you don’t want to see. But you have to praise how the players reacted, how the fans reacted in a delicate situation. We have to say thank you to all those who helped him.”