Joachim Löw will be forced into late fitness calls on Ilkay Gündogan, Antonio Rüdiger and Robin Gosens before Germany’s last-16 meeting with England at Wembley on Tuesday. The trio, ordinarily starters, were among the party that arrived in London on Monday but doubts remain over their availability.
Löw explained Rüdiger and Gosens are suffering from “small infections” and “tiredness” which the coach likened to a cold, with Gündogan seeking to shake off a head injury. “We decide with the doctors on match day,” said Löw. “Maybe they [Rüdiger and Gosens] will get up and feel well but maybe it will get worse overnight so we need to wait. I don’t know if these three will be at our disposal, I cannot say that. But [if not] we will have other solutions.”
In specific reference to Gündogan, the German coach said: “Ilkay suffered a cranial bruise. He felt a little bit better today, yesterday he still felt a little dizzy especially in training so we said we had to stop his load. Today he did a good job so we will decide tomorrow.”
Personnel disruption is the last thing Löw needs amid criticism relating to Germany’s performance thus far. With the 61-year-old due to leave his position at the conclusion of his team’s run, perhaps it was telling that German media asked Löw whether he had contemplated the fixture at Wembley being his last in the job.
“I thought for two seconds about that when one of your colleagues asked and now I am asked again,” said Löw sharply. “I don’t think about it. I have so many other thoughts in my head at the moment. There is great anticipation, it is for this you become a coach. My passion is to compete in matches such as this. My whole focus is on the match and hoping we succeed.
“All the matches which have taken place between England and Germany, you talk years after about them. This is a match that electrifies everybody. It is in or out, now or never. There is only a winner and a loser so there is a lot at stake. I can feel that we are highly motivated – all the players are – and we have analysed the England side. We are looking forward to this great encounter.”
Manuel Neuer will join Harry Kane in wearing a rainbow captain’s armband for a game that has routinely had friction as a backdrop. Germany’s players will take the knee before kick-off along with their English counterparts. “We want to show solidarity with the English team,” said Neuer. “We did not really have to discuss it a lot.”
Löw fully backed the pre-match action of his players. “I have said it many times: we stand for all these values and want to show that,” he said. “We discussed it within the team, they decided and told us they want to take the knee. This is a great sign and a great signal.”
What threat Kane may or may not pose during the game is a subject for great debate. Addressing the Tottenham forward’s barren tournament, Neuer warned: “It is always a dangerous sign if a striker waits for a goal. He will be completely motivated, 100%. We know him; he is very dangerous in the box, two-footed, great in the air and dangerous from set pieces.”
Löw, while also hailing Kane’s capabilities, played down the notion of his defenders paying special attention to the 27-year-old. “He can score goals out of every situation,” said the coach. “Special measures? Of course we have to be focused but England also has Sterling, Foden, Mount, Sancho, Rashford. They have a lot of strong attacking players. Their attack is a real threat.”