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Before the EM: Philipp Lahm criticizes Nagelsmann’s willingness to experiment

Shortly before the draw for the European Championship groups, tournament director Philipp Lahm criticized national coach Julian Nagelsmann’s recent personnel experiments and held the national players collectively responsible. “What actually distinguishes a team? What kind of solidarity does it take to play football successfully? I would also like that from the current team, from the coach, to put the players in the right positions where they have experience,” said the 40-year-old in the “Players – The Sports Podcast” on Deutschlandfunk.

Without naming names, Lahm was obviously alluding to the tactical measure taken by Nagelsmann, who had called up Kai Havertz in the left-back position, which was unfamiliar to him, in the national soccer team’s recent European Championship test matches. Even though the Arsenal professional acted very offensively and played well overall, the tactical structure of the DFB selection got into disarray several times, especially in the 2:3 against Turkey. In the following 2-0 defeat against Austria, Nagelsmann stuck to his measures without success.

A big surprise presented by national coach Julian Nagelsmann: He lets the attacking midfielder Kai Havertz (right) play as a left-back

Quelle: picture alliance/SvenSimon/Frank Hoermann/SVEN SIMON

Lahm is apparently worried about the performance of the DFB team a good six months before the opening game on June 14th in Munich and is calling for a different mentality in the team. The players need to know “what are they actually doing this for, what am I actually playing for, who am I actually playing for in the national team,” said Lahm. An example for him is the home World Cup in 2006, when the mood was also precarious after a 4-1 defeat in Italy just three months before kick-off, but the team then improved enormously during the tournament.

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“We drew the conclusions from this in 2006. Everyone concentrated on what was important, on their role in the team and put themselves at the service of the team. I think that was a big key to success, that everyone knew that this opportunity only comes once in a lifetime,” Lahm recalled the summer fairy tale of 2006.

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The honorary captain assured that there would be no other parallel to the home World Cup. In contrast to the previous tournament, this time there will be no scandals about possible corruption and misconduct by officials. “I can promise that. Everything was transparent and open, so I can put my hand in the fire, so to speak, for myself and my organization,” promised Lahm.

The Germans have no trust in the national team

The vast majority of Germans, meanwhile, consider it unrealistic for Nagelsmann to celebrate the European Championship victory with the German selection in Berlin on July 14, 2024. When the DFB team are drawn with their three European Championship preliminary round opponents this Saturday (6 p.m./ZDF/RTL/Magenta) in the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg, sporting confidence will be at rock bottom after the many disappointments of the recent past. Only two percent expect a European Championship triumph at the home tournament next summer. This is the result of a representative survey by the opinion research institute YouGov.

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24 percent of those surveyed, on the other hand, expect massive tournament disappointment and elimination in the group phase – as was the case at the 2018 and 2022 World Cup tournaments. 16 percent see the DFB team failing in the round of 16, as they did at the 2021 European Championship. 15 percent believe Nagelsmann and his team will reach the quarter-finals and eight percent at least believe they will take part in the semi-finals. Germany in the final – albeit without the following coronation – still give three percent as their assessment. 30 percent of those surveyed did not express an opinion.

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In the host country, the DFB team is temporarily released from the role of favorite in the 24-nation field of participants. Although DFB President Bernd Neuendorf recently declared participation in the final as a goal between the lost test games against Turkey (2:3) and Austria (0:2).

When it comes to the draw, everything is possible for Germany, even though they are in first place as the head of Group A: an easy group as well as a hammer draw. The most difficult conceivable variant would be Italy and the Netherlands from pots 4 and 3 and Denmark, Austria or Turkey from the second pot. However, a group with Albania, Slovenia and a team from play-off path C, in which Georgia, Greece, Kazakhstan and Luxembourg will play another European Championship participant in March, would also be conceivable. The 21 teams that have qualified so far are spread across four draw pots, with twelve teams still playing in the play-off for three open tournament tickets.

“The charm of a draw is that there is a draw. So you don’t have your luck in your own hands, there are no easy opponents anyway,” said Nagelsmann. The 36-year-old will come to Hamburg on Saturday to take part in the ceremony.

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The DFB-Elf’s group games will take place in Munich (June 14th), Stuttgart (June 19th) and Frankfurt (June 23rd). Only the opponents are still missing. Of the 16 tournament winners since 1960, all former European champions are represented, with the exception of Russia, which was excluded because of the war against Ukraine as the successor to the premiere winner, the Soviet Union. Greece, sensational champions in 2004, still have to make it to the play-offs in March.

Estonia, Israel, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Georgia, Kazakhstan and Luxembourg have never taken part in a final tournament and all of them still have to secure their debut participation in the play-offs in March 2024.

The lottery pots for the EM 2024

Pot 1: Germany (set as A1), Portugal, France, Spain, Belgium, England

Pot 2: Hungary, Türkiye, Denmark, Albania, Romania, Austria

Pot 3: Netherlands, Scotland, Croatia, Slovenia, Slovakia, Czech Republic

Pot 4: Italy, Serbia, Switzerland, winner Play-off A*Winner Play-off B**Winner Play-off C***

* Poland, Estonia, Wales or Finland ** Israel, Iceland, Bosnia-Herzegovina or Ukraine *** Georgia, Greece, Kazakhstan or Luxembourg

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