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    DFB team must find its core before EURO 2024 – DW – 08.09.2023

    Nine years after his 113th and final international match for the DFB team, Philipp Lahm is looking forward to the upcoming European Football Championship, which will take place in Germany in June 2024. As tournament director of the EURO 2024, the captain of the 2014 World Cup team has an interest in the German team having a successful home tournament after being eliminated in the preliminary round of two World Cups in a row.

    However, given the recent weak results in the friendly matches against Ukraine, Poland and Colombia, Lahm has questions that have to do with the leadership qualities of the current players. “I don’t know who is currently in charge. Who is the face of the team? Who is part of the core?” he asked in an exclusive interview with DW at the end of July, drawing a comparison to earlier, more successful times when the roles were still clear were distributed. “Every successful German team had a core that still needs to be formed. There’s still plenty of time,” said Lahm.

    Form the core of the team

    However, there are few opportunities where national coach Hansi Flick can test players and formations before the European Championships and which the team can use to get used to the game. In addition, Flick himself is under pressure to succeed. The upcoming games against Japan and France could also decide his future. “The upcoming international breaks must now be used to form the core and face of this team,” Lahm told DW. “I think that’s important – even within a team. Who’s in charge? I have to crystallize that.”

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    Before the last international break, Flick had spoken of the need to “get the fans carried away” and get them on their side before the 2024 tournament. But then the team could not inspire in three games. In Lahm’s opinion, drastic changes are needed. He even goes so far as to say that Germany needs to work on the basics.

    Under pressure: National coach Hansi Flick needs good results and wants to get the fans excited againImage: Laci Perenyi/IMAGO

    “I think what has been missed in recent years is the concentration on the essentials, simply on football,” said the 39-year-old in the rooms of his foundation in Munich. “We focused on all kinds of things about the game, but not on the most important thing, which is what football is about. We lost our way a bit and now we have to catch up.”

    In fact, in the run-up to the World Cup in Qatar, there was more talk about captain Manuel Neuer’s “One Love” armband and possible political statements about the human rights situation in the host country than about the sport. Previously – still under the leadership of DFB sports director Oliver Bierhoff – there had been criticism of the DFB team because apparently sponsor appointments were more important than training, the “stakeholders”, as Bierhoff called them, more important than their own fans.

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    Morocco’s World Cup success as an example

    Outstanding performances and strong personalities have rarely been seen in recent international matches. Germany’s national team, once a byword for willpower, attitude and commitment, appeared disjointed and lost. “I think we have the quality in our squad,” Lahm is optimistic despite the doldrums. “We have good players who are experienced enough to play successful football.”

    Lahm cites Morocco and Croatia as examples of how to be successful without having the best squad in the tournament. “It’s about being a collective and you have to form that. I have hope that we can achieve that in the short time we have left.”

    Home effect like the summer fairy tale of 2006?

    In addition, the ex-national player is relying on the home effect for EURO 2024 – and speaking from his own experience. In 2006, Lahm was part of the German team that started the home World Cup without much praise, but improved in the tournament, sparked great enthusiasm and ultimately came third in the World Cup. Lahm himself initiated the later “summer fairy tale” with a wonderful long-range goal to make it 1-0 against Costa Rica in the Germans’ opening game of the World Cup.

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    Goal celebration Philipp Lahm with Bastian Schweinsteiger and Torsten Frings after his goal against Costa Rica at the 2006 World Cup
    Initial spark: Philipp Lahm (2nd from right) celebrates the first World Cup goal of the DFB team at the home tournament in 2006 Image: Florian Eisele/press photo ULMER/picture-alliance

    “I don’t know if we were the third-best team or the third-best squad. But the team identified with the task. And I think people just felt that,” recalls Lahm, who at the time was 22 and still young player was. “I think Germany has become a unit again. You had that feeling as a player too and you shouldn’t underestimate that. That’s the big advantage of a home tournament.”

    But before this enthusiasm can return, Hansi Flick and his players have to make advance payments. Two good performances – preferably with wins – against Japan and France could do a lot to ensure that the DFB team has a tailwind in the last nine months before the start of the European Championship.

    The text was adapted from English.

    Source: DW

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