Neuer: ‘The best thing that can happen to us’

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Following the disappointment at the World Cup, Germany are looking to use the first international since the summer to excite the severely disappointed fans. Thursday’s match at the sold-out Allianz Arena in Munich against the 2018 World Cup winners France is: “The best thing that can happen to us,”as the captain Manuel Neuer said ahead of the start of the new Nations League competition. “We want to take fun and joy into the game and play winning football again,” promised the keeper.

Neuer’s team-mate Thomas Müller suggested a modified approach by Germany coach Joachim Löw after the first work-out on the training ground. “Defending the goal will play a bigger part again,” said the striker at the Germany team hotel on Tuesday. The aim is to invest energy in the game, “so the fans can see a powerful, pressing game again.” As it stands, Löw has all 22 players in the squad available.

There will be a reunion for Neuer, Müller and Co. with their team-mate Corentin Tolisso. “It’s the first game for us with the second star on our shirts. It will be special. For me as well as it’s against a lot of my team-mates at FC Bayern and because it’s being played at our our stadium, the Allianz Arena. I’ll enjoy it,” said Tolisso in an interview with kicker.

Tolisso looking forward to ‘home game’

The German record champions’ midfielder is expecting to face an extremely determined Germany team. “Of course, Germany had a bad World Cup but the players obviously have great quality and are fired up to make amends. And what could be better than playing the reigning World Champions?” said the 24-year-old. “But we want to show we’re worthy World Champions and win the game.”

France are without goalkeeper and captain Hugo Lloris and the usual number two keeper Steve Mandanda of Olympique Marseille due to injury. Alphonse Areola of Paris Saint-Germain will be in goal for the World Cup winners on Thursday, as announced by coach Didier Deschamps at the training centre in Clairefontaine.

Holland are the third team in Germany’s group. The group winners will play in a four-team mini-tournament in June 2019 for the Nations League title. The last team in the group go down to the second division of the new competition.