Germany coach Joachim Low admits Germany are one of the favourites to win the FIFA World Cup™ this summer, but pointed out that expectations continue to fluctuate.
The 1990 World Cup winners reached the semi-finals of the last two editions and there is hope that, after reaching the final of UEFA EURO 2008 and last four at EURO 2012, they can take the next step in Brazil. While acknowledging that they do have a chance in South America, Low suggested that Brazil will be the team to beat, and that there are many other nations all in the hunt.
"Logically, we have a good, competitive team and we'll be one of the favourites in Brazil, It's just the hosts know the conditions, they have home advantage, they won the Confederations Cup have a very settled team," Low said. "Then there are others who have justifiable chances to win, but they, like us, are a bit behind Brazil."
The question as to Germany's chances of succeeding in becoming World Champions for the fourth time seemed to frustrate Low a little at a press conference which marked the conclusion of a 10-day training camp in South Tyrol on Friday. He said it is too soon to tell whether Germany will be competitive or not with so much still able to change over the next two weeks.
There are others who have justifiable chances to win, but they, like us, are a bit behind Brazil.
"The expectation levels change in the space of weeks or months," he said. "If I say something now, it's not to wake people up, it's just the way I see things. That is Brazil are top favourites, then there are others, even the likes of Chile and Colombia as outsiders.
"Lots has to go right to win a tournament like this. Of course we go there with high expectations, but I think we can cope with that."
Germany's preparations for the World Cup see them face Cameroon in an international friendly on Saturday night. That will be the last chance Low has to take a close look at his 26 remaining players before deciding on the 23 names he will submit to FIFA on Monday to board the plane to Brazil.
"The World Cup countdown really begins on Sunday," he said. "It's an opportunity for me to see a few things with the team and individual players, who certainly still have the chance to stake a claim. Then we have to make some important and difficult decisions."
Low confirmed that Roman Weidenfeller will keep goal in Monchengladbach with regular number one Manuel Neuer still carrying a shoulder injury, even if the Bayern Munich custodian has picked up training again. Should Neuer not be fit for the start of the World Cup, Weidenfeller could find himself "rounding off my career" with the No1 jersey in Brazil, and Low would have no concerns about picking the Borussia Dortmund stopper.
"He's got exceptional quality and an incredibly strong presence on the field," Low said. "He's also a great gain for us as a person as he is always positive and a good influence on the others. I'm totally convinced of his sporting qualities."