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Germany coach Hansi Flick on facing Italy and England in the Nations League and team's 'new spirit' - interview

Flick speaks to UEFA.com about facing Italy and England in the Nations League, his footballing philosophy and Germany's new generation of talent. Germany face Italy in League A opener on Saturday.

Germany coach Hansi Flick: 'Competition is important for every single player'
Germany coach Hansi Flick: 'Competition is important for every single player' Corbis via Getty Images

Germany kick off their UEFA Nations League Group A schedule with a daunting away game against European champions Italy, but that match-up is all in the spirit of the competition for Mannschaft boss Hansi Flick.

Having helped to define Germany’s playing style in collaboration with his predecessor, Joachim Löw, the coach who led Bayern München to UEFA Champions League glory in 2020 is hoping that UEFA’s newest national team competition can toughen his side up for the challenges ahead and stretch an exciting crop of young players.

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The 57-year-old spoke to UEFA.com ahead of the big kick-off in June.

2022/23 UEFA Nations League lowdown

On facing Italy and England in Germany’s Nations League group

EURO 2012 highlights: Germany 1-2 Italy

We are measuring up against the best. Looking at the European Championship, both teams made it to the final. Our first match in the Nations League is against Italy, so we are going up against the best, but that’s just part of it. Competition is important for every single player, for the team. We are looking forward to it and will take it as we always do: looking for what we can achieve in this game and what we need to do in order to advance in our development, to get where we want to get.

Competition is always special. There are always advantages and disadvantages of course; in friendly games we can use the opportunity to try out new things but in the end, a competition like the Nations League, shortly before the World Cup, fits the bill precisely. We will be able to show how far we’ve come, if we have achieved the standard needed. And then we see what we do for the rest of the time, from September until November.

On Germany’s footballing style

England vs Germany down the years

I always like to put the emphasis on that we are coaching as a team, and that’s very important to me because I am surrounded by really good people, great experts. They are my coaching colleagues and I involve them in all my decisions.

We asked ourselves what we wanted to achieve. On the one hand, we wanted to be successful again; we want to be a world leader again, if possible. But it is also about how the team presents itself on the pitch as well as off the pitch.

We want a team that shows on the pitch that they have fun playing football so that they are seen as inspiring, and, concerning our style of playing, you can already see it. We are active, we are putting pressure on the opponent, trying to make them commit mistakes. I believe it is a positive attitude that we bring and the team implements it brilliantly.

On keeping in touch with his team

Watch Flick post-match reaction to Bayern's Lisbon success

As a Bundesliga coach, or club coach in general, you are around the team every day. [As a national coach] you need to stay in contact and communicate with the players in the time in between. My coaching team and I, we communicate a lot with the club coaches. We want to know how a player develops in the club. Are there important things to know? Can we maybe support the coach?

All this is about working together. My philosophy is to incorporate everyone, including the club coaches, because at the end, if we want to be successful, that’s crucial. The contact with the coaches is highly important, so that you know what the players are doing throughout the season and in the time between the international breaks, how he’s performing, and how his performance is assessed. You have a certain influence there.

On the new generation of Germany players

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There are six or seven players [who have graduated from the Under-21 side] who have played with us and have permanent positions in the squad. Whether it is Nico Schlotterbeck or Jamal Musiala or Karim Adeyemi, they bring a refreshing vibe to the team, they carry with them a new spirit. There is a naturalness about the way that they play football, which I like very much.

So I believe that a lot has changed. The squad gets bigger, there are a lot of new players and that is good; you need lots of choices. But there is a huge amount of quality now, especially with the young players, who just are exceptional and bring that to the game.

All the Nations League fixtures