Bullish Lothar Matthaus believes it would be foolish to write off Germany at Euro 2020 and sees no reason why a talented squad can’t give Joachim Low the perfect send-off by winning it.
The German legend, a European Championship winner in 1980 and World Cup winner in 1990, says they have nothing to fear from a ‘Group of Death’ featuring France and Portugal.
There has been a lot of soul-searching in German football since their catastrophic group stage exit at the 2018 World Cup.
Lothar Matthaus has offered an upbeat assessment of Germany’s chances at Euro 2020
It’s one final tournament for long-serving coach Joachim Low with Germany finding themselves in the Group of Death alongside France, Portugal and Hungary
But German legend Matthaus believes the team can surprise a few observers and perform well
They were battered 6-0 by Spain in the UEFA Nations League last November and were beaten at home by minnows North Macedonia in a World Cup qualifier at the end of March.
But long-serving manager Low has come through these tribulations to lead Die Mannschaft into a tournament for the final time, opting to reintegrate old hands Mats Hummels and Thomas Muller into a team containing talents like Kai Havertz, Toni Kroos and Ilkay Gundogan.
And speaking to Sportsmail ahead of their Group F opener against reigning world champions France on Tuesday night, Matthaus exuded optimism about Germany’s chances.
‘We are not afraid to play against Portugal and France because we know who we are,’ he said.
‘I see very good players in our team as well. I see Champions League winners, eight players from Bayern Munich, three from European champions Chelsea and one from Manchester City who won the Premier League.
The 2018 World Cup ended in disaster for Germany as a defeat to South Korea sent them out
The group stage exit led to plenty of pain in Germany but the supporters believe once again
‘There are players from Borussia Dortmund who won the German Cup, other players who played in the Champions League for Borussia Monchengladbach and RB Leipzig. Toni Kroos, the four-time Champions League winner.
‘This is our team so why should we be afraid to play France, the world champion, or Portugal, with Ronaldo and the European champion? We will show the power of German football and the quality of our football.
‘We didn’t play well at the World Cup and this has made us angry for three years! Now we start with the energy from all German fans behind us.
‘I feel the German public understands for the first time that the team needs us. Normally it is the opposite but Germans feel the team needs the support, journalists as well and I don’t see anything negative.
Germany were battered 6-0 by Spain in the UEFA Nations League last November
They also suffered a shock home defeat to North Macedonia in the World Cup qualifiers
‘I have a feeling that we, the Germans, will play a very good tournament. I know what Jose Mourinho and Arsene Wenger have been talking about [writing Germany’s chances off].
‘I understand because the German team played very badly for the last three years with poor results in the Nations League, losing to North Macedonia, 6-0 against Spain, we know all the results.
‘That is in the past, we have to look forward. I watch the training sessions and I feel it’s really a team rather than two or three players.
‘I feel the team is prepared physically and psychologically for this tournament. We will win or have a good European Championship like a team, not as individuals.’
Germany will look to Chelsea’s Timo Werner for goals but the striker has been widely criticised for missing too many chances during his first season in the Premier League.
Timo Werner was criticised for missing too many chances during his first season at Chelsea
But Matthaus has backed the £47million striker to remind us of his qualities at Euro 2020
Matthaus believes the negativity around Werner is incredibly harsh and Euro 2020 will serve as a reminder of his class.
‘He was the top scorer for Chelsea, nobody scored more goals for Chelsea,’ Matthaus said.
‘This player was not wearing the No 9 and playing there every weekend like Harry Kane, Romelu Lukaku or Robert Lewandowski.
‘Give the player the chance to play every Saturday or Sunday [as a centre forward] and Werner will score more than 20 goals in the Premier League. He was doing that at Leipzig, 28 goals goals and second in the Bundesliga behind Lewandowski.
Joachim Low and his Germany team pictured in training ahead of the opener with France
‘But he is always playing with his heart, giving his best, running right wing, left wing and backwards.
‘The problem was he came from Germany to the Premier League and it is different football, a different language and mentality, different media.
‘Many things were completely new for the guy. But with Thomas Tuchel he is getting the confidence back he had before at Leipzig.
‘I see he is missing chances but he is also playing well and he was the top scorer for Chelsea!’
Booking.com proves we are more friends than rivals during UEFA EURO 2020™ #RivalsReUnited.
Matthaus was speaking as new research commissioned by Booking.com, the official accommodation and attractions booking partner of UEFA Euro 2020, found that two-thirds of German football fans would rather let their rivals win Euro 2020 than miss out on their next holiday.