Germany will be far more attack-minded in their Euro 2020 Group F game against Portugal on Saturday after their opening defeat to France left them in need of points, coach Joachim Loew said on Friday.
The three-time European champions, desperate to make amends for their shock 2018 World Cup first round exit, were largely toothless against the French.
When in France’s half, they struggled to get the ball into the box and had only one effort on target, playing without an out-and-out striker and with Serge Gnabry in the forward role.
“Tactically, we have to bring something else, more attacking power. We need to bring in more intensity,” Loew told a news conference.
“When we are in the last third of the pitch we have to stay there. Against France, there were situations where we played the ball back out and our opponents have enough men against the ball again.
“We have to play with a different dynamic in the last third of the pitch and take more risks,” added Loew, in his last tournament after 15 years in charge.
The Germans are in third place in the group, with holders Portugal and France on three points. Hungary are in last place following their own opening loss to the Portuguese.
Germany face Hungary in their last group match next week.
“We are all optimistic but the pressure of course mounts after a defeat. We can handle the pressure. Players can handle the pressure,” Loew said.
“What I feel is a determination, the absolute will. Everyone knows we need to improve things tomorrow.”
Portugal are among the title favourites, with Cristiano Ronaldo netting twice against Hungary to become the all-time highest Euro scorer with 11 goals, but for Loew the team has far more talent than just their captain.
“They are a strong team, very good players, highly skilled. It is not a one-man show. Portugal have more depth, there are many, many other players.
“Obviously Ronaldo can do more than just move Coca-Cola bottles around,” Loew said in reference to his moving bottles out of the way during a news conference days ago.
“In attack I could mention a lot of names, not only Cristiano Ronaldo, who have special skills, who can decide matches.”
Portugal coach Fernando Santos has urged his side to starve Germany of the ball as they target a second consecutive win in Euro 2020 in Saturday’s blockbuster Group F game.
Portugal won the last European Championship playing a mostly defensive game in which they rarely dominated the ball but Santos believes their best hope of keeping Germany at bay is to limit their ability to play passes in behind.
The holders had a testing opening game with Hungary before eventually emerging 3-0 winners, while Germany were beaten 1-0 by world champions France.
“Germany are often able to surprise opponents with passes in behind from Toni Kroos, so a fundamental weapon is to have the ball and keep them as far away from the goal as possible,” Santos told a news conference.
“They like to play lots of passes in behind but France deprived them of space in the final third with a fantastic performance. We want to have the ball and not lose it too often.”
Germany hammered Portugal 4-0 the last time the two sides met in a major tournament at the 2014 World Cup but Santos believes his side have made huge strides since then.
“I think Portugal have became more respected lately. Other teams respected Portugal in the past, but deep down they believed they were stronger. Now no team in the world facing Portugal thinks they’ll win easily,” he said.
“On the other hand, this Germany side is fantastic, like a steamroller. I’m not afraid of Germany, but the two teams will respect each other, and thinking you’re favourites against Germany is a very dangerous move.”
After facing Hungary in a raucous, sold-out Puskas Arena, Portugal will again have to contend with a partisan crowd in Munich – although the Football Arena Munich will only be at 25% capacity due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Santos said his side must try to keep a cool head in the partisan atmosphere.
“Being motivated to win and playing with your soul is very important but you also have to know how to win. If we only play with our hearts, we won’t win,” he added.
Defender Ruben Dias said the squad was in a good mood after their opening win but also aware they will have to up their game.
“We’re facing a top level team now, one of the best in the tournament,” he said.
“We’re well aware that even though we’ve made a good start we need to keep our feet on the ground and remember we’ll have to play even better to win this one.”