German legend Lothar Matthäus warned against complacency but expressed confidence his country will beat Group E rivals Japan at this year’s World Cup in Qatar.
The 61-year-old ex-star urged Germany to focus on themselves ahead of their opener against Samurai Blue on November 23 at the Khalifa International Stadium. Spain and Costa Rica are also waiting for the four-time winners in the group stage.
“Germany will win against Japan,” Matthäus recently told reporters at Al-Janoub Stadium, one of the tournament’s eight venues. “But it’s the World Cup… it has a lot of surprises in store. You have to work hard for 90 minutes against Japan to get three points.”
Former German soccer captain Lothar Matthaeus speaks during an interview in Al Wakrah, Qatar June 15, 2022 about the World Cup finals that start in November in the Middle Eastern country. (Kyodo) == Kyodo
As captain of the Federal Republic of Germany, world champion in Italy in 1990, the complete midfielder and later sweeper has played in five finals in a row since the 1982 tournament in Spain and has a German record of 150 appearances.
Matthew said the first game of the successful 1990 season, a 4-1 win over a “very good” Yugoslav side led by the late former Japanese coach Ivica Osim and centered around Nagoya Grampus icon Dragan Stojkovic, the current Serbian coach , centered, will be a good reference case.
“We were thinking of ourselves, not so much of Yugoslavia,” he said of the game in which he scored an excellent brace. “It’s only when we think about our quality that we went into the game with confidence and I think that’s the most important thing .”
“The opening game is always something special because you think a lot. Did we do well? Are we in good shape? How good is Japan at this moment? You start thinking, but don’t think too much and believe in yourself. “
Lothar Matthaeus (R) celebrates with the trophy along with Pierre Littbarski (L) after West Germany defeated Argentina to win the 1990 World Cup Finals July 8, 1990 in Rome, Italy. (Bongarts/Getty/Kyodo)
Matthäus acknowledged the influence of Japanese players on the Bundesliga, although Stuttgart’s captain Wataru Endo was the only name that came out of his mouth.
“We have a few Japanese players in the Bundesliga, so we know them. We know the discipline of the Japanese players, we know they are very organized in the team,” he said. “They are technically very good… in Germany we have had very good experiences with the Japanese players.”
Germany suffered an early shock in Russia four years ago but Matthäus has seen promising signs from the side since Hansi Flick took the reins last year after Joachim Löw’s departure.
Germany were knocked out last summer in the round of 16 at the postponed European Championships, the last tournament of Low’s long tenure, which began in 2005 and saw them win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
Diego Maradona of Argentina and Lothar Matthaeus of West Germany are pictured in action during the World Cup Finals June 29, 1986 in Mexico City, Mexico. (Getty/Kyodo)
“I think with the new coach we have what we’ve lacked in the last four or five years, the cohesion to work for each other, belief in each other, the team spirit,” said Matthäus about Flick, who he knows from their game days together at FC Bayern Munich.
“What he does better than Joachim Löw’s last few years is that he communicates better with the players. From the same height, face to face, in clear words, he explains his decisions, he speaks frankly and explains the reasons behind each decision.”
Qatar’s tournament ambassador named Brazil, France, Germany, England, Portugal, Argentina and Spain as favorites and said the first mid-season World Cup could pose some difficulties for players and managers.
At the tournament draw on April 1, 2022 in Doha, Lothar Matthäus shows that Germany has been divided into Group E of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. (kyodo)
“I know in Germany they stop the Bundesliga just a week before the tournament and have to prepare for the World Cup in five days. Usually at a Summer World Cup, like in the last 50 or 100 years, you always had two to three weeks of preparation,” he said.
Matthäus were also aware of the positive aspects of the unique tournament, which should make for a special occasion.
“The time to play the World Cup is perfect in terms of temperature,” he said. “No one can say it’s too hot or too cold or too much rain or the course isn’t groomed.”
“We will have good games, high level games, the world will follow the greatest sporting event in the world. So I’m happy that in five months we can start here in an area where there has never been a world championship.” I think this area has the right to host a world championship.”