BERLIN (Reuters) – Germany will not be among the tournament favourites if they qualify for next year’s Euro 2020, coach Joachim Loew said on Friday ahead of their final two qualifiers.
The Germans, who take on Belarus on Saturday before facing Northern Ireland on Tuesday, are level with leaders Netherlands on 15 points. Northern Ireland are third on 12. The top two earn automatic qualification and Germany could qualify as early as Saturday.
“We don’t belong to the tournament favourites,” Loew told reporters. “France, England have been playing with the same players for years. There are the Dutch, Spain.”
“Us, with our young team, we are not among the favourites because we are still in the process of change.”
The Germans suffered a shock group-stage exit at last year’s World Cup and were relegated in the inaugural Nations League, promoting a major overhaul of the team.
“Maybe in two or four years when the players are at their peak. I mean a lot is possible with this team and we are working on that because it does have a lot of quality.”
Loew has had to struggle with a lot of absences in recent months and his young team has rarely played with the same starting lineup, delaying, as he said, its development.
“We have had games where we played really well over 45 minutes and when I was surprised at how well some things worked,” he said. “But we have not yet managed to do it over 90 minutes against tough opponents. That is the job we have.”
Loew said the situation was similar to that of the 2010 World Cup when injuries had forced several last-minute changes and the young team, that included Mats Hummels, Jerome Boateng, Mesut Ozil and Manuel Neuer among others – reached the semi-finals.
It also formed the backbone for the 2014 title-winning team in Brazil.
“It is a bit like the situation in 2010. But to play for the title will be difficult. There are things that are possible but we don’t have the favourites role this time,” said Loew.
(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; Editing by Toby Davis)