Germany head coach Joachim Low has admitted France will be favourites when the two giants of European football meet in Munich on Thursday for the first game of UEFA’s new Nations League tournament.
The sides had widely contrasting experiences at the World Cup this summer, with Low’s 2014 champions meekly retreating after the group stage, while Didier Deschamps’ men marched all the way to glory in Moscow.
Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Low said: “The world champions are here tomorrow, we are not favourites, we lost the World Cup in the first round.
“Of course, we’ll do everything we can to beat France but it’s a process, the European Championship in 2020 is the key and that’s where we are aiming.”
Given the huge success he has enjoyed since taking over from Jurgen Klinsmann in 2006, Low has not faced demands for his head but many German fans have suggested the 58-year-old should axe this summer’s failures.
Those calls, however, have largely been resisted, with his squad for France and next week’s friendly with Peru containing only five players not in Russia.
“We have analysed what happened and you need a mix of experienced players – guys like (Mats) Hummels, (Jerome) Boateng, (Toni) Kroos and (Thomas)Muller,” he said.
“Maybe they didn’t perform as they would have liked but they’ve showed over a long period how good they are. Don’t forget, we won 10 qualification games.
“Of course, we need to get the ball rolling again but we don’t need to turn over every stone and start everything again.”
Low also rejected suggestions Germany should scrap its possession-based game and copy France’s counter-attacking style.
“We’ve been really successful for the last eight years, it would be nonsense to change our style completely,” he said.
“At the World Cup, the risk level was too high, we played too offensively. We have looked at all the data from 2010, 2012, 2014 and so on and we had a better balance then in terms of possession.”
Deschamps has only made two changes to the 23 who won in Russia: goalkeepers Alphonse Areola and Benjamin Lecomte coming in for the injured Hugo Lloris and Steven Mandanda.
Areola is expected to start in an otherwise unchanged team from the XI who started against Croatia in the World Cup final.
Speaking to UEFA’s website, Deschamps said: “I don’t see being world champions as a burden but as something wonderful, but we won’t dwell on that. We’re already thinking ahead.
“(Germany) did not make it to the World Cup knockout phase but they still have a great squad. We love playing games like this.”
The hosts are not expected to make too many changes either to the side that lost to South Korea but they must replace Mesut Ozil, who quit after accusing the German FA of racism, as their playmaker, with Julian Draxler and Marco Reus the most likely candidates, and Manchester City’s Leroy Sane is also tipped to return after not making the World Cup squad at all.