It’s that time of the year again: The World Cup is in full swing, and the best international football teams on the planet are vying for glory. It’s an exciting time.
Having taken care of sports marketing activities on behalf of adidas for the German football association (DFB) since 2011, I’ve been fortunate enough to spend quite some time with the German team, its staff and of course German head coach, Joachim Löw.
During the final preparations for the 2018 FIFA World Cup RussiaTM at the team’s training camp in Italy, I had the chance to chat with ‘Jogi’, where he shared some valuable insights into what he regards as the do’s and don’ts of going into such a massive competition as reigning world champions:
Do stay hungry and challenge each other
“They say that the most difficult thing is to stay on top. If you’re first, you’re the one that they are chasing. Over the past four World Cups, three cup holders left the competition in the group stages. We’re aware of this, and we’ve been warned, but we also have a new squad, with new players who are hungry for victory.”
“This, however, I treat totally independent from winning titles and trophies.”
Do listen to the heartbeat of the team, not just your own
“Over the years, a coach knows what a team and its components need in a certain moment. Once the tournament has kicked off, the schedule defines the rhythm. The closer the next game, the more intense your concentration gets. After the match, it’s time to regenerate both physically and mentally. To relax, I simply need to do one thing: sport. Whether that’s going running, cycling or just doing a session in our fitness tent.”
Do compile your extended team wisely
“We have an amazing team behind the team, where everyone gives their full support to the players and coaches: from physicians and physios to the PR crew, the kit men and our bus driver. Everyone is a true specialist within their own particular area and they’re all responsible for creating a fantastic mood and an amazing atmosphere.”
Don’t think that you can simply replicate a successful strategy
“In Brazil 2014, everything fitted together perfectly. We were a unit both on and off the pitch. After the disappointment of earlier tournaments, everyone absolutely wanted to take this final step together. Four years later, we cannot simply copy this success and we don’t want to. We’re a new unit now and you can’t compare the team now with the team we had four years ago, but we still have that same hunger to win.”
Don’t let the expectations of others define your game plan
“The whole country is watching and judging the squad, as is the case in every tournament. What I usually tell the players before they reach the pitch is to enjoy competing against the world’s best and if there are high expectations, we should always try to turn them into positive energy.”
Don’t plan for setbacks
“You should always plan for the best possible outcome; however, every athlete experiences defeat at one time or another. If the game doesn’t go as intended, giving recognition to a victorious opponent and playing fair is all part of good sportsmanship. We’ll be taking this attitude with us to the World Cup in Russia as we would every tournament.”
All eyes will be on Löw’s team over the coming weeks, as the World Champions strive for glory once again. One thing’s for sure: With a mindset like this, the team will be fully committed to represent their country in what is sure to be an exciting tournament.
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