Thomas Muller says Germany are not afraid of France ahead of Thursday’s Euro 2016 semi-final in Marseille.
The odds may appear to be stacking up against Germany after their dramatic penalty shoot-out win over Italy in the quarter-finals, while France eased to a 5-2 win over Iceland.
Furthermore, injury will deprive coach Joachim Low of Bastian Schweinsteiger, Sami Khedira and Mario Gomez, while Mats Hummels is suspended.
Nevertheless, Muller remains convinced that Germany can give France a game, and that the absences will not be used as an excuse.
“Fear never comes into it,” he said at a press conference in Evian-les-Bains on Tuesday.
“We know France have many good players, but Iceland didn’t honestly look that good at the back so if we defend well as a team, we will not let these players get into positions to show their class.
“We’re respectful, but I’m optimistic we’ll find a solution even if we’ve got some players missing out, which is bitter.
“This happens in football, there are always injuries and suspensions for big games but you’ve got to compensate as a team.
“I said before the tournament that I’ve never seen so much depth of quality in our team as we have now so I’m sure we can compensate.”
Although the draw has been kind to the hosts, Muller still says they deserve to be in the semi-finals “because they’ve got great players”, although they can now expect the biggest test of their campaign so far.
“France have not got here by luck,” he said. “But they are now under a bit of pressure too as the hosts, and they know they’re facing a strong Germany side.
“We were both being mentioned as favourites before the tournament and there aren’t many bigger games than this one.”
With Hummels missing out, Low is going to have to reshuffle his defence, but the one player he can rely on at the back is Manuel Neuer.
The Bayern Munich custodian has paid tribute to France’s attack while echoing Muller’s mantra that Germany are not afraid.
“Olivier Giroud’s a very dangerous player in the area and we’ve seen in the tournament how good he is in the air and how uncomfortable he can be for a defender,” Neuer said.
“We know him from Arsenal and from the national team so we know a lot about him and can therefore prepare well to face him.
“I prefer not to focus on one player, though. Their whole front line is remarkable and they’ve got a great deal of quality.
“The French team are self-confident, especially up front, and things are going well for them, especially with the Iceland game which was their best so far.
“That doesn’t mean we are scared of them, though. We’ve had a good tournament with our defence.”