- *Germany have not practised penalties *
- *Low explains how he selects his penalty takers *
- Explains why he prefers not to make subs specifically for shootouts
*By Steffen Potter with Germany *
Following Germany’s victory over England – of all teams – on penalties in the semi-finals of the UEFA U-21 European Championship on Tuesday, it was perhaps inevitable that an English journalist would ask Joachim Low at his press conference on Wednesday how Germany prepare for a potential shootout.
It is well worth paying close attention to his answer, as since losing the very first penalty shoot-out in the 1976 continental final against Czech Republic, which also witnessed the birth of the ‘Panenka’ in Belgrade, Germany’s senior team have won every subsequent shoot-out they have participated in at major tournaments. Their tally stands at four from four at FIFA World Cups™ and two from three at European Championships.
Low’s first taste of penalties arrived last year in the EURO 2016 quarter-finals against Italy, which Germany won 6-5. Of course.
Low’s strategy: *Germany practise ‘missing’ penalties
*In response to the English reporter’s question as to whether Germany are practising penalties in training here in Sochi, Low said: “No, we haven’t done so. The players sometimes do it themselves after training, they go out there and miss a couple of penalties.”
That sparked laughter among the assembled press, and also brought a smile to the face of the Lorrach native when he realised his slip of the tongue [having said ‘verschiessen’ instead of ‘schiessen’ in German]. Low swiftly corrected himself: “I meant to say they ‘take’ penalties. Although they miss some too. At EURO 2016 we took so many penalties after each training session that a few missed the target. We weren’t the best in that regard against Italy [in the quarter-finals]. Perhaps it’s even counter-productive to practise penalties too much.”
*Would Low bring on a substitute for a shoot-out?
*The Germany coach also discussed whether it makes sense to bring on a substitute just for penalties: “We thought about it last year against Italy as we had Andre Schurrle on the bench, and he’s a reliable taker. But sometimes it’s difficult to come onto the pitch, not play much and then take on such a responsibility.” The 57-year-old recalled that Italy did just that in the 120th minute when they introduced Simone Zaza, who went on to miss in spectacular fashion. Schurrle remained on the bench.
Player selection crucial* *“I don’t have a list of players in mind before each game,” continued the 2014 World Cup winner. “You never know who’s still going to be on the pitch at the end. After around 110 minutes you start to think about it.”
And what exactly are his thoughts in that moment? “Which players are still there? Who’s got the courage? Who is able to? Who has previously missed a penalty?”
And the most important thing: “You have to get feedback from the players and look them in the eyes.”