Joshua Kimmich has admitted Germany’s “terrible” showing at the last World Cup is fuelling their bid for glory in Qatar.
In Russia four years ago, holders Germany finished bottom of their group, with a solitary win, to make a humiliating exit from the tournament. Bayern Munich defender Kimmich conceded Germany’s players let themselves and their country down, and said Hansi Flick’s squad are determined to make amends – starting against Japan.
“The motivation for us is huge after four-and-a-half years,” said Kimmich. “We know that was nothing, that was terrible what happened and we’ve had quite the wait.
“It will be very important to start with a good game. The first game is very important, we’ve seen that in previous tournaments.
At the last Euros we lost the first game and we didn’t go on to win the tournament, so I hope that [vs Japan] we will be winning.”
After coming up short at the last World Cup and European Championships, Germany are not considered among the favourites in Qatar, despite their formidable record at international tournaments. Despite that, coach Flick pointed out that Germany were not among the favourites in 2014, but went on to win their fourth World Cup in Brazil.
Flick, who was assistant to World Cup-winning coach Joachim Low back then, said: “I was part of the coaching team in 2014, when we had Lukas Podolski, Mats Hummels and Philipp Lahm. It was the same back then. Before the tournament, people were saying they haven’t won big titles yet.
“So you can’t compare the generations. This generation is characterised by the fact they are very focused on the game and always push their limits.
“They are players who always try to get better every time they step on the pitch. It’s wonderful to see as a coach.
“Of course, we know the competition is strong. When you look at Argentina and Saudi Arabia, everything is possible. But that’s what makes football beautiful – never underestimate your opponent.”
Germany will be without former Manchester City winger Leroy Sane, who has a knee issue, although the Bayern Munich star should be available for Sunday’s huge Group E clash with Spain.
“Leroy is a player who can make a difference,” said Flick. “That’s why this is bad for us. It’s a pity, but we hope he can play on Sunday. That’s what we ‘re working towards.
“We do what we can do for him to make sure we can have him on the pitch soon.”