Mats Hummels was suspended for the European Championship semi-final after receiving two yellow cards. The 27-year-old was Borussia Dortmund’s captain last season but has been with FC Bayern Munich since July 1. After the 2-0 loss to France, who will now meet Portugal in the final on Sunday, the defender looked back on the match, evaluated the tournament and the future of the German national team.
Who was most missed by the team against France, you in defence or Mario Gomez in attack?
“Mario, I would say. We didn’t do a bad job in defence and controlled the French well. What we were lacking most of all was someone to put the ball in the net.”
What will remain for the German team from this tournament?
“At the end there is nothing. The world champions want to win. If they don’t achieve that they are not successful. We ascertained that we definitely are among the best in the world with our style of play. And hopefully this will not change in the coming years.”
How do you evaluate the performance of the French?
“If we defeat France nobody complains. Then they all say it was a deserved win for Germany. The World Cup quarter-final against the French in Brazil was clearly more balanced than this European Championship semi-final here in Marseille. Then we scored a goal, and they didn’t. In the end it was peanuts that were against us.”
The penalty certainly was more than peanuts, particularly at that point in the match, shortly before half-time.
“That’s right. Particularly considering how well we controlled the French, how deep we had kept them in their own half.”
The players were upset in the dressing room. Was this sequence of play much discussed during the break? Was there great anger?
“I wasn’t allowed in the dressing room. I got up from my seat and wanted to go down. But then I remembered that as a suspended player, I am not permitted in the inside area.”
What was the mood in the dressing room after the match?
“Crappy! A defeat is easier to accept if the opponents are better on the day.”
Consequently it’s worse than four years ago with the semi-final elimination by Italy?
“Yes, because then we were hardly in the game. Then you leave and you are sad but you can accept it. This time the defeat was much more painful because you know that you do not have to fear opponents, neither as individual player nor as a team.”
Do you feel more relaxed with the defeat when you realise you still hold the World Cup title?
“Honestly, no. I, for instance, know that I now have only one chance left to win the European title. For I doubt whether I will be still jumping about at the age of 35. And many are my age. We are not content because we once won a tournament. We continue to kick ourselves in the backside in order to win tournaments.”
Then you start your holiday totally displeased?
“You are certainly not content if you play on that level and don’t win a title. The only fact that can make you happy is winning the trophy.”
If you reflect: What was the ultimate reason?
“We had everything needed to win this match and this tournament. It’s a fact in football that a few scenes are decisive. It’s not like basketball, where you make 40, 50 baskets per match. In football, one, two scenes are decisive.”
So it was the meagre exploitation of chances. Seven goals in six matches are really not many for the German national team, the World Cup champions.
“If you want you can say exploitation of chances. But if we score one goal, we can still lose. If we score two goals, we still are not any further. It was a mixture of no goals scored and at the back we conceded them. That despite the fact we prevented the French from getting into the match over long periods. It’s odd to see the small mistakes punished so quickly and so hard.”
Do you suggest it as an odd end to an odd tournament?
“You have to admit that the standard at this European Championship wasn’t as expected. There are many teams that can’t do too much with the ball, who stand behind the ball with many players instead of acting with a system. The tendency was recognizable. That’s why many matches didn’t reach a high level.”
Where will the German national team go from here?
“I don’t think we will lose as many players as in 2014. The core of regular players will remain. The youngsters are already very good, but not at the end of their development. There will be more progress. We don’t have to worry much about good players.”
And what about the older players?
“We shall lose only a few. Not many of us are yet in their thirties. Manu Neuer doesn’t really count. He can play until he is 55. Anyway, we shall have very good individual quality on the pitch in the future.”
Joachim Loew has not clearly said that he will continue.
“It’s always awkward to be asked that question at the moment of such disappointment. It was relatively clear to me in the past weeks and months that he will continue.”