Prove yourselves, German stars told for French test

Loew will again field an experimental line-up

CLAIREFONTAINE-EN-YVELINES: France’s forward Kylian Mbappe takes part in a training session in Clairefontaine-en-Yvelines, as part of the team’s preparation for the friendly football match against Germany. — AFP

BERLIN: Joachim Loew has told his Germany side to prove themselves in today’s friendly against France as the defending champions’ sharpen their preparations for next year’s World Cup. Security will be tight in Cologne as the friendly takes place almost two years to the day since the Paris terror attacks of November 13 2015, when 130 people were killed and over 400 were injured. On that night, three suicide bombers set off devices at the Stade de France during a France v Germany friendly and the shocked German players had to spend the night at the stadium during a security crackdown. “Memories of that night still come back, it was a dramatic experience and one you would not want to experience again,” said Loew on Monday. “Over time, you can block it out. I don’t feel unsafe and I have confidence in the security.”

However, the pre-match focus in Cologne was on the football. Loew is set to field first-choice midfielders Sami Khedira and Toni Kroos, who missed Friday’s goalless draw against England at Wembley with a gastrointestinal infection. “I want to see if certain players can prove themselves against the best,” said Loew. “The most important thing won’t be the most important thing. “Mistakes could be made, which will be learnt from. “I want to try things out and make changes during the game. “We wanted two games in November against teams on the same level as us. “We want to test a few things, but it will be a different game to the one against England. “The French have players who always go forward, I think they will be more dangerous than England and we want to be better in that regards.” Loew treated his squad to a speedboat ride down the Thames after holding England at Wembley, but the players were all business in a high-tempo training session in Cologne on Sunday. Loew will again field an experimental line-up with Paris Saint-Germain goalkeeper Kevin Trapp set to start. The Germans came through their World Cup qualifying campaign with a perfect record of ten wins.

To ensure they face stiff tests before the World Cup kicks off in Moscow next June, the Germans will also face Spain and Brazil in friendlies next March after their final match of 2017 against the French. The friendly is unlikely to be a sell-out with just over 30,000 of the 45,000 available tickets sold. “Friendly matches are not that important any more, so you have to understand the publics reaction,” said Loew. “It is not the first time the stadium hasn’t sold out.” France are missing Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud, who picked up a thigh strain in Friday’s 2-0 win over Wales, while Barcelona winger Ousmane Dembele and Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba are also sidelined. Germany are without Bayern Munich defender Jerome Boateng, who also sat out the draw against England with a muscle injury. The Germans are unbeaten in their last 19 matches, dating back to their 2-0 defeat against France in the semi-finals of the 2016 European championships when Antoine Griezmann scored both goals in Marseille. —AFP

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