Confed Cup is 'a gift' for Germany's Loew

AFP , Sunday 18 Jun 2017

Germany's coach Joachim Loew gives a press conference during the Russia 2017 Confederation Cup football tournament in Sochi on June 18, 2017 AFP

Germany coach Joachim Loew described the Confederations Cup as 'a gift' in his side's bid to defend the World Cup next year, ahead of Monday's clash against Australia.

Loew has left most of his World Cup-winners at home and brought an inexperienced squad, who have made just 179 international appearances between them, to Russia.

With an average age of 24 years and four months, Germany have the most youthful squad of the eight Confederations Cup teams.

Loew has rested all of the team which won the 2014 World Cup final, but insists the Confed Cup gives him the perfect platform to test Germany's next crop of stars.

It is a U-turn from last month's comments when Loew said he 'wouldn't be sad' if the Confed Cup, a warm-up tournament for the 2018 World Cup, is not held in 2021.

"The Confed Cup is like a gift for me," said Loew, Germany's coach for more than a decade, in Sunday's press conference in Sochi.

"It will help us reach our goals next year or afterwards and it helps to make our players better.

"That's why I believe that this Confed Cup is incredibly important."

With first-choice goalkeeper Manuel Neuer recovering from foot surgery, Bayer Leverkusen's Bernd Leno, 25, will start and Julian Draxler, 23, will take the captain's armband.

Loew's young guns drew with Denmark in a friendly earlier this month and hammered minnows San Marino in a World Cup qualifier.

With Chile and Cameroon to follow in Group B, Loew says his team will be flexible against the Socceroos, the 2015 Asian Cup winners, but expects to see signs of nerves.

"The team and I are really up for the start," he said.

"Physically, the team is in a good condition and has made a good impression in training.

"We expect some nerves, as most of the players are playing their first tournament.

"I have a good feeling with this team, I am surprised at how quickly they have implemented the tactical requirements.

"It is conceivable that we will play different systems in the tournament, even maybe during a game.

"We want to get good combinations going, as we did well against San Marino and Denmark."

With the likes of Thomas Mueller, Neuer, Mats Hummels, Toni Kroos, Mesut Ozil and Jerome Boateng rested, Loew says he wants his stars looking over their shoulders.

"Our stars are not afraid (for their places), but it is also a certain incentive when young players move in," said Loew.

"There must be certain changes to the world champions over time. The fight for places does us good."

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