Germany have belief back ahead of Euro 2024, says Lahm

Germany have belief back ahead of Euro 2024, says Lahm

March 26, 2024 at 3:01 PM
World Cup winner Philipp Lahm believes the German national team are back on track after several barren years
World Cup winner Philipp Lahm believes the German national team are back on track after several barren years. Photo: John MACDOUGALL / AFP/File
Source: AFP

Germany have regained their self-confidence after a 2-0 win against France last week three months before hosting Euro 2024, World Cup winner Philipp Lahm told AFP in an interview.

Lahm, who is tournament director for Euro 2024, said the promising performance brought back "euphoria in our country" because the "German national team played football well and played football passionately".

In Qatar in 2022, Germany reached a new low when they were eliminated at the group stage of a World Cup for the second time in a row.

Hansi Flick became the first Germany coach in history to be sacked and was replaced by Julian Nagelsmann in September.

In Lyon on Saturday, Nagelsmann appeared to be finally moulding a new, young team, less than three months from the opening match of the tournament against Scotland on June 14.

"(Germany) performed completely differently" against France, Lahm said of the victory that came thanks to a first international goal from Bayer Leverkusen's Florian Wirtz and a Kai Havertz strike.

"We had an established midfield and of course very, very young, dynamic, attacking players. And of course that brings self-confidence.

"But we can only know for sure over a longer period of time."

'Pieces of the puzzle'

Lahm played every minute in Germany's run to the semi-finals as hosts of the 2006 World Cup before captaining the side to victory in Brazil eight years later.

As captain of the last world-beating German team, Lahm understands how complex the process of developing a top team can be -- and that talent may not be enough.

"Super-talented players like Jamal Musiala and Florian Wirtz are still relatively young, but have a lot of experience," he said.

"They certainly have the talent to raise the German national team to another level, but it's important everything fits together, that the pieces of the puzzle fit together -- and that was certainly the case in 2014.

"Everyone identified with their role and made their skills available to the team."

Saturday's victory against France even overshadowed the controversy surrounding the DFB's decision to ditch long-time kit maker Adidas in favour of Nike, ending a 70-year collaboration with the German sports brand.

Florian Wirtz scored his first international goal in Germany's confidence-boosting victory over France
Florian Wirtz scored his first international goal in Germany's confidence-boosting victory over France. Photo: FRANCK FIFE / AFP
Source: AFP

"I made 113 international appearances for Germany in Adidas, I played at Bayern Munich in Adidas, I only know the national team in Adidas," Lahm said.

"When I watched Germany play on TV as a child, it was in Adidas."

Lahm admitted the move was "a change for us in Germany", but said: "There must have been serious reasons to change."

Despite the hope fuelled by Germany's defeat of France on Saturday, Lahm still named the French -- spearheaded by Kylian Mbappe -- as tournament favourites.

"They have 40 players who are very, very talented. They have a balanced squad," he said.

"They can always bring players off the bench who would normally be good enough to play from the start.

"But the important thing is that you have a team on the field."

While predicting a "big football nation" will win, Lahm said he hoped "perhaps there will be a surprise, that a smaller nation will go far in the tournament and will celebrate together with their fans."

"But as for winning the title? I'm pretty sure it will be a football nation and one of the favourites, one who has won in the past few years."

'Tournament in challenging times'

The Euro 2024 hosts hope to channel the spirit of the 2006 World Cup which still holds a defining place in the collective German consciousness.

Known as the "summer fairytale", it was the moment where a unified and modern Germany showcased itself on the world stage.

Just 18 years ago, the tournament seems from a different time, with this year's event held in a time of global conflicts and uncertainty.

Late in 2023, Germany's Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV) warned the danger of a terror attack was "higher than it has been for a long time".

The attack on a concert in Moscow on Friday by militants linked to the Islamic State group which killed 137 people has prompted new security fears in Germany. Neighbouring France has already raised its security alert to its highest level.

Lahm acknowledged the challenges, but said he hoped the tournament could play a unifying role as the World Cup had done in 2006.

"Safety is the highest priority, right from the start until the end of the tournament," Lahm said.

"It's a tournament in challenging times, but I still believe it's important that we keep coming together.

"In Europe, we always come together to strengthen ourselves, to strengthen our democracy.

"Everyone is warmly welcomed to Germany, especially at this time, when there are many challenges all over the world. (It is important) that people can come together again and celebrate together again."

AFP photo