Germany haven’t played well and must improve, says Koepke
“Obviously not everything has been ideal so far and we’re aware of that,” Koepke told reporters when asked about the withering criticism back home and in the media about the team’s struggles against Algeria, the United States, Ghana.
“And we don’t beat around the bush about that in our internal discussions,” he added.
“These things are being addressed internally because we know if we don’t address them we clearly won’t advance further.”
Ahead of Germany’s quarter-final against France in Rio de Janeiro on Friday, Koepke said he had ignored the critical media coverage as the three-times world champions have struggled since a dazzling 4-0 opening win over Portugal.
“Believe it or not, I don’t read any newspapers and that’s a good thing,” said Koepke.
“As far as all the experts out there and their opinions are concerned: if I talked to five experts, I’d get five different opinions about what the line-up should be.
“We have to decide what’s best. We can’t let ourselves be pressured. We’ve already got enough pressure on us.”
Koepke, who added the players have enjoyed seeing television pictures of huge public viewing gatherings back in Germany, said the criticism being heaped on the team was due largely to the extremely poor first half against Algeria.
“I think the negative comments are coming from everything being reduced to our first half against Algeria,” he said of the 2-1 round of 16 win in extra time after a scoreless 90 minutes.
“I think we improved in the second half and in extra time,” he said. “There are going to matches like that in tournaments. There’s no question about it that we have to improve. And we will improve.”
Koepke, Germany’s goalkeeper in their last tournament victory at the 1996 European Championship, said every German team that won a major title had had poor matches on the way.
“Even in 1990, everyone thinks we just marched through to win the World Cup,” he said. “But there were matches on the edge, matches that weren’t so good. Look what happened in the end.”
Germany had two wins and a draw at the group stage, and only narrowly beat the Netherlands and Czech Republic en route to beating England on penalties in the semi-final and Argentina 1-0 in the final thanks to a late penalty.
“I’m expecting us to have a really good match in Rio and that we’re going to stay in the tournament for as long as possible,” he said.
Goalkeeper Manuel Neuer also said Germany had not played to their potential.
“We’re not content with our performance yet either but I think at the end of the day we’ve deserved to win every match so far and winning is what matters here,” he said.
(Editing by Ed Osmond)