Joachim Low: On the face of it, we have been drawn in the toughest group of them all. Holland and Portugal both have many world-class individuals and our games with them are going to be real duels; matches, dare I say it, with a do-or-die quality. As for Denmark, they have, over the years, proved themselves to be a competent tournament team. They don’t fear big names and have nothing to lose. That makes them dangerous and unpredictable. I’d go as far as to say that every side in Group B has a reasonable chance to go through.
You totally outclassed Holland 3-0 in a friendly in November. Does that give you a psychological edge?
On the night we played exceptionally and obviously took many positives from the game. The Holland we meet in June will be a stronger, more convincing one I’m sure.
Can such a highly competitive group be turned to your advantage?
Of course. It’s certainly no bad thing to face a stiff challenge straight away. Games against Portugal and Holland are a truly demanding start. I’m not sure that Germany have ever had such a tough first two fixtures in a tournament. But the other side of the coin is that motivation will not be a problem. Every player knows full well that every game in the first round will have a great deal riding on it. There will be no margin for error.
In any case, we are used to battling through the opening phase of a competition. At both Euro 2008 and the last World Cup we only secured qualification in the last of our three matches, winning effective “Finals” against Austria and Ghana. So we
know how to live with the pressure of finding a way through a closely matched group.
Does your perfect record in qualification pose any problems? Complacency perhaps?
I’ve no worries at all on that score. The squad I have is hungry, driven and very much focused on the goal of winning a trophy. No one here is under the illusion that the job ended with qualification, however impressive we were.
Germany are thought of as one of the favourites and confidence is high in the country that you can do it… After doing so well in qualification, expectations did go through the roof. But the draw has, I think, dampened the euphoria a little. There’s more realism among the public now. Anything can happen in a tournament. A shot on target or not can make all the difference and so can injuries. Like all the coaches, I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed the lads are fit after a long, strenuous season.
Of course, winning Euro 2012 is a legitimate objective for a team with so much self-confidence, footballing quality and desire to make a mark. Without that belief you will not go far. I think we’ve comprehensively proved in recent years we are one of the best sides in the world. We’re much more consistent than we were two or three years ago, more solid, more automatic in our combination play.
What are your strengths?
One of the biggest things for me is to see how we’ve developed into a real team, one which has togetherness running right through it. No player solely looks out for himself. Everyone helps everyone else, and when new guys are introduced they settle in amazingly quickly. Team spirit became very strong during the World Cup in South Africa and this continues to serve us very well.
An outstanding crop of young players has come through…
They are fundamental to what we do. They bring freshness, enthusiasm, great skills, audacity. They are desperate for success and simply love coming together to play high-tempo attacking football. They are so full of energy I sometimes need to put a brake on them.
Could Euro 2012 be a shoot-out between Spain and yourselves?
Spain are outstanding but far from the only candidate for the title. The Dutch have an excellent side. I’ve always had the greatest respect for the abilities of the Portuguese, France are improving and England should not be discounted.
Interview by Nick Bidwell