Sochi (Russia) (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
"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
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
"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."