Joachim Low cast aside concerns about Germany’s form ahead of their match against England at Wembley in the last 16 of Euro 2020.
Germany won only one of their three Group F games and were six minutes from elimination before a late Leon Goretzka equaliser kept them in the competition against Hungary in their final game on Wednesday evening.
Euro 2020 will be Low’s final competition at the helm of his country after 15 years in charge and while the 61-year-old admitted Germany had to be better when they travel to Wembley on Tuesday, he cast aside criticism about their performances at the tournament so far.
“I’m not worried, it’s a totally different match,” he said. “Hungary parked the bus, with everyone behind the ball, entered every duel, against England it will be a totally different match.
“They are playing at home, they want to attack, it’s going to be an open match, more open than it was tonight. We need to improve on things, we are aware of that, and need to take care and be careful, especially at set-pieces.
“We cannot repeat the same mistakes again. We need to do things better here, but ahead of the match against England, we’re looking forward to it.
“It’s great news to play in London at Wembley against England. The group stage is over and now we have to focus. It’s in or out now. Our performance so far hasn’t been too good, but if we show what we can, as we did against Portugal for long spells, we can be a strong opponent, and if we don’t do that we can get into difficulties.”
Low himself was critical of Germany’s performance against a Hungary side who looked capable of supplying a seemingly unthinkable outcome as the game entered its final stages, thanks in part to retaking the lead in Munich only 91 seconds after Kai Havertz had first cancelled out Adam Szalai’s early opener.
“We committed some mistakes, and gave away too many balls,” he said. “This shouldn’t happen again in our next match, you will have resistance in this group, that was clear beforehand, this was the group of death – we got second spot and now travel to England.
“We didn’t find enough spaces or open up enough spaces in their defence. It was a great mentality at the end, good moral spirit. We didn’t give up, we didn’t go crazy after falling behind. After scoring the equaliser, the character and personality my team showed was perfect.”
Rossi: Hungary qualification ‘almost unimaginable’
A beaten but proud Marco Rossi made an emotional tribute to his Hungary players after they exited Euro 2020 as the bottom side in Group F, having avoided defeat against both World Cup winners France and Euro 2016 semi-finalists Germany.
Hungary had at one stage been set to finish second in the so-called ‘group of death’, and came closer than most had imagined to reaching the last-16 before Goretzka’s heartbreaker late on.
He said: “We went very close to a qualification which would have not just been historic, it would have been incredible almost unimaginable. But unfortunately even in the greatest fairytales, there can be some less than happy endings, and that was the way it went tonight.
“That said, I am very proud of my players. I know from a technical perspective we are not one of the best teams in the world, but from every other perspective we are. Tactical, how we help each other out, we dig in and show sacrifice, I am very proud to coach this side. We are disappointed, we went very close, but I congratulated all of the team and told them to keep their heads up, because two months from now World Cup qualification resumes.
“I would challenge anyone to say that coming up against these teams to say we could get any points at all. But we got two points; we drew against France and here against Germany. I think these will go down in Hungarian recent footballing history.”