Löw aims for Euro 2016 with new-look Germany

World Cup winners Germany have suffered something of a hangover since their triumph in Brazil, but coach Joachim Löw is hoping a new-look side can go on to claim more glory at Euro 2016.

Löw aims for Euro 2016 with new-look Germany
Joachim Löw holding the World Cup trophy. File photo: DPA

After claiming their fourth World Cup in July, retirements and injuries took their toll as Germany struggled for form at the start of their Euro 2016 qualifying campaign in the second half of the year.

A shock first-ever defeat to neighbours Poland in Warsaw followed by a 1-1 draw with Ireland in October leaves Germany third in their qualifying group for the 2016 finals in France.

But the world champions will still start 2015 on top of FIFA's world rankings.

Germany will tackle six qualifiers next year, including hosting Poland next September followed by away matches to Ireland and Scotland.

With the top two qualifying automatically and third place enough for a play-off, there is margin for error, but Löw is looking for strong performances to qualify for Euro 2016 as group winners.

"It would be wrong to be satisfied with what we have achieved so far," said Germany's head coach, who took charge in 2006 and has a contract until after Euro 2016.

"It is important for us now to put some distance between ourselves and our previous success and bring in new ideas.

"We have to introduce new players and set new goals to keep the players motivated."

The 54-year-old Löw is clear on what he wants Germany to achieve in 2015, which starts with a friendly against Australia at the end of March.

"I hope that we are able to confirm our (World Cup) success," Löw said. "That we can characterise an era in which we not only won the (World Cup) title, but we can recapture the feeling (of success).

"And that in 2016 we can win the (European Championship) final in Paris and then focus on defending our title at the 2018 World Cup."

There are several areas which need Löw's urgent attention, though, especially the defence, with right-back and captain Philipp Lahm and centre-back Per Mertesacker having retired after the World Cup.

Löw played a three-man defence in November's 1-0 friendly victory in Spain, with Benedikt Höwedes, Shkodran Mustafi and Antonio Rüdiger keeping European champions Spain at bay.

World Cup-winners Mats Hummels and Jerome Boateng are to come back in, but at the other end, that win failed to mask deficiencies in Germany's ability to turn chances into goals, just as their finishing let them down badly against Poland and Ireland.

Responsibility for improving in that regard will fall upon Thomas Mueller and Maracana hero Mario Goetze, who are poised to spearhead Germany's attack through to the next World Cup.

Meanwhile, the retirement of Lahm left a leadership void on the pitch, and Bastian Schweinsteiger has yet to appear for Loew's side since being named as the new captain.

However, the 30-year-old proved his fitness after a knee injury with a stunning free-kick for run-away Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich at Mainz on Friday.

Löw needs his midfield general back in the famous white shirt alongside Real Madrid's Sami Khedira and Toni Kroos, who scored the winner in the friendly against Spain.

Elsewhere, Löw has unearthed some exciting young talent in Bayer Leverkusen winger Karim Bellarabi and Hoffenheim's powerful forward Kevin Volland, while Borussia Mönchengladbach midfielder Christoph Kramer and Schalke's Julian Draxler need to make good on the potential they showed as part of the World Cup squad.

Germany will be looking to avenge their shock 2011 defeat to the Socceroos when they host Australia in Kaiserslautern in a friendly on March 23rd before a Euro 2016 qualifier away to Georgia.

Then follows a friendly against the USA in June and a reunion with Löw's predecessor Jurgen Klinsmann, who coached Germany to third at the 2006 World Cup with Löw as his assistant.

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Löw says ‘no racism’ at German FA as he cuts players for France clash

Joachim Löw has rejected Mesut Ozil's accusations of racism within the German FA (DFB) as the head coach gave his analysis of Germany's World Cup debacle on Wednesday.

Löw says 'no racism' at German FA as he cuts players for France clash
Joachim Löw. Photo: DPA

“Mesut made allegations of racism, but I can clearly say that in the DFB, there have never been racist comments,” Löw said while announcing his squad to face world champions France in Munich on September 6, then Peru three days later.

“The players with an immigration background have always enjoyed playing for us and nothing has changed,” added Löw who has been head coach since 2006.

Arsenal midfielder Ozil retired from international football on July 22 with a stinging three-page statement, in which he directly accused DFB president Reinhard Grindel of racism.

This is the first time Löw has commented on the Ozil saga.

No contact

“His advisor called me to inform me that Mesut would issue the third part of his statement,” added Löw.

“The player himself did not call me, which normally players have done in the past.

“Mesut has still not called and for the last two weeks I have unsuccessfully tried to reach him.

“I am sure there will be a chance for a personal conversation in the future. He has chosen this path – I have to accept that.”

Ozil and Ilkay Gundogan, who were both born in Germany to Turkish parents, sparked a political storm on the eve of the World Cup by meeting Turkey president Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

When Erdogan's office put out pictures of the meeting, the pair's loyalty to Germany was hotly questioned, sparking fierce debate about integration, and they were attacked by German far-right politicians.

Ozil walked away from the German set up after the World Cup, complaining of facing “racism and disrespect” and specifically took aim at Grindel.

“In the eyes of Grindel and his supporters, I am German when we win, but I am an immigrant when we lose,” Ozil wrote damningly.

Following Germany's World Cup debacle, finishing bottom of their group in Russia, Löw announced on Wednesday that assistant coach Thomas Schneider has been demoted to chief scout.

The axe has also fallen on Sami Khedira, 31, who was part of the team which won the 2014 World Cup.

The Juventus midfielder is the biggest name casualty in the new squad, which included Gundogan, as well as his Manchester City team-mate Leroy Sane, who was dropped for the World Cup.

Löw says 'the biggest mistake' he made in Russia was to assume Germany could reach the knock-out stages by playing possession football.

'Almost arrogant'

“That was almost arrogant. I wanted to take our game to the limit and perfect it,” admitted the 58-year-old.

“I ended up taking too many risks and after the first game (a 1-0 defeat to Mexico) we had our backs to the wall.”

Löw's new squad has a mix of “experience and youth” with his 2014 World Cup winning stars Mats Hummels, Jerome Boateng, Tony Kroos, Thomas Mueller and Manuel Neuer included despite below-par performances in Russia.

Paris Saint-Germain centre-back Thilo Kehrer, 21, Hoffenheim left-back Nico Schulz, 25, and Bayer Leverkusen forward Kai Havertz, 19, are called up for the first time.

Sane, Leverkusen defender Jonathan Tah and Freiburg striker Nils Petersen, who were cut from the provisional World Cup squad, all return.

In May, Löw signed a four-year deal to take him through to the next World Cup, but admits Germany's woeful performance in Russia puts him under huge pressure to turn things around — starting against world champions France.

“We are all being specially observed and put under pressure, I am aware of that,” said Löw.

“However, I am still convinced of our class and quality. The World Cup squad was very, very good, but we did not perform.”