Mats Hummels says that he is certain Germany will avoid major tournament humiliation at Euro 2020, three years on from their dismal title defence at the Russia 2018 World Cup.
Joachim Low’s side head into this summer’s rearranged pan-continental tournament looking to atone for a shock group-stage exit in their last competition, having entered among the favourites to defend the crown they won at Brazil 2014.
Hummels, recalled alongside Thomas Muller to the international set-up for the first time since an effective early retirement following those failures, feels however that the assembled squad hold a greater camaraderie this time around – one which will ensure they do not make another early departure.
What has been said?
“At that time, we had the problem that we had not yet found each other as a team, neither in the training sessions before nor in the game itself,” the Borussia Dortmund man told Kicker.
“That will certainly not happen to us against France. It mustn’t happen to us again to lose sight of the team. I can honestly say the feeling now is different than it was back then.
“Everyone wants to become a unit, everyone is ready to sacrifice themselves for the team. We can go far. We are on the right track; we know that we have the skills to win this tournament.”
Hummels opens up on shock return
Low’s decision to cut several members of his World Cup-winning side in the wake of Russia’s shortfall was met with criticism and a pair of below-par Nations League finishes later, the 61-year-old has confirmed the return of Hummels and Muller for his final tournament in charge.
Speaking on his recall, the centre-back has stressed that there was no falling out between him and the coach, adding: “We never had a problem with each other personally.
“In terms of sport, the views were different – but that’s quite normal in sport. There are always different opinions. I was rather sad because I always enjoyed playing for Germany.
“We talked about [a return] for the first time a few months ago. From that moment it was clear to me: If he wants me there, I’ll be there.”
The bigger picture
Though Hummels believes that Germany can avoid any major pitfalls early on, the fact they must progress through Group F – which also consists of reigning World Cup holders France and Euro 2016 winners Portugal, plus Hungary – will be cause for concern.
If they top their group, they are likely to be rewarded with a softer last-16 tie and a more favourable route to Wembley Stadium for a prospective final – but if they finish second, they may be forced to spar with old enemy England, or Russia 2018’s beaten finalists Croatia.
Regardless, Low will look to sign his decade-and-a-half spell in charge off on a high note, with outgoing Bayern Munich boss Hansi Flick set to succeed him at the conclusion of the tournament.