New Germany coach Julian Nagelsmann says he is feeling “pressure” and “responsibility” as well as pride as he takes charge of the team for the first time against the United States on Saturday.
Nagelsmann’s predecessor Hansi Flick last month became the first coach in Germany history to be sacked, having overseen a run of five matches without a win after a second-straight group stage exit at the World Cup in Qatar.
A humiliating 4-1 friendly loss to Japan in Wolfsburg proved to be the final straw and the German federation turned to the 36-year-old Nagelsmann, himself fired by Bayern Munich in March.
“It’s a great honour for me. I also feel kind of pressure because I want to be successful with the team and I love watching the fans in all the streets and celebrate good games of the national team and we try to do this,” said Nagelsmann ahead of Saturday’s game in Connecticut.
“I am also feeling a kind of responsibility for German soccer as a whole, not only me but the whole group — we want to be a team who can entertain the fans, especially in Germany,” he said.
Nagelsmann, the country’s youngest coach for almost a century, has named World Cup winners Thomas Mueller and Mats Hummels, both 34, in the squad, with the latter last playing for Germany at the EURO in 2021.
The coach said he wants to introduce his style of play while keeping the need for positive results in focus.
“I have the big aim that my style leads to a winning situation, winning games. That would be perfect. When our style does not lead to three points in the games then we have to do it a different way,” he said.
“In the end, it’s also important that we play a good way of soccer. A good style, aggressive and that we try to create a lot of chances,” he said.
After facing the USA, Germany takes on Mexico in Philadelphia on Tuesday. While nothing is at stake in those games, Nagelsmann knows that the team’s results — which improved with a 2-1 friendly win against France under interim coach Rudi Voeller — matter.
“It is always the case that in professional soccer the result is important. It’s important for the self-confidence and it’s also important to believe in a new way,” he said.
USA head coach Gregg Berhalter said that he hopes his young players will learn from the experience of playing an opponent with such rich pedigree.
“We need to learn and we need to figure it out and tomorrow (Saturday) will be another example of us getting an opportunity and seeing what we can take from that game,” he said.
“We know Germany is a good team, a ton of talent in their roster and for us it’s a great opportunity,” he said.
Midfielder Gio Reyna, who is repairing his relationship with Berhalter after a bitter public row, could return to the side after struggling with injury with his German club Borussia Dortmund.
Berhalter said his rapport with Reyna is improving and indicated his fitness is following a similar path.
“What I’d say is that we’re moving forward. You know, I (don’t) really want to talk too much about the past. I think it’s about talking about the future and Gio’s done a great job this week in training,” he said.
“He looks really sharp, really strong. You can see his quality and for us it’s about how do we build him up?”
The USA will, however, be without its key central midfielder Tyler Adams who is injured.