BERLIN (Reuters) – Defeat by Brazil in Tuesday’s friendly international highlighted Germany’s need for sharp improvement ahead of the World Cup in June and players would be wise not to believe the hype created around the world champions, midfielder Toni Kroos warned.
The Germans, who fielded a second string team, were far from convincing against the five-time world champions, eager to earn back some pride after their 7-1 semi-final loss to Germany in the World Cup four years ago.
The hosts showed very little in terms of attacking appetite and littered the pitch with mistakes, prompting the 28-year-old Kroos, a 2014 world champion and the team’s midfield dynamo, to ring alarm bells.
“You could see that we are not as good as we are constantly being told we are or even as some of us may think we are,” Kroos told reporters after the 1-0 loss. “We need to improve on many fronts. We made easy mistakes, failed to keep possession up front.
“We had some players in the team who had the chance to present themselves (ahead of the World Cup squad announcement in May) but they failed to do that.”
Germany have set their sights on a title defence and coach Joachim Loew has some three dozen players to choose from, with each position at least covered twice.
Their perfect qualification with 10 wins out of 10 matches, in which they conceded just four goals, and their 22-game unbeaten run going into Tuesday’s encounter had helped give them an air of invincibility.
But after a draw against Spain and defeat by Brazil, they know they will need to up the ante as the World Cup approaches. “We are not the absolute favourites for Russia, this is nonsense,” Kroos said. “That was nonsense before and it is nonsense now. Maybe now there will be some more people who will see it that way.”
Loew may have fielded an unusual lineup due to a string of absences against Brazil but he knows his team must improve quickly.
“The team and each and every single player can play better than we did,” said Loew.
The four-time world champions have two more friendlies left prior to their departure for Russia. They take on Austria on June 2 before hosting Saudi Arabia on June 8.
The Germans have been drawn in Group F of the World Cup, along with Mexico, South Korea and Sweden.