Germany manager Joachim Low has laughed off criticism from former midfielder Michael Ballack over their performance at Euro 2016.
The world champions, who haven’t been at their sparkling best so far this tournament, kicked off their campaign with a unconvincing 2-0 victory over Ukraine before being held by Poland to a 0-0 draw in their latest Group C fixture.
Ballack has claimed the current Germany squad lacks personality and character, but Low brushed off his countryman’s comments.
“Things repeat themselves so much,” said Low. “The discussion conjures a smile from me. In 2014 there was the discussion that we have no leading players.
“Then we were world champions and they were suddenly the great leading players. Now we play a 0-0 and have this discussion again. The players have great leadership.”
With four points already in the bag, Germany only need a point from their final group game against Northern Ireland to guarantee their place in the second round.
“We’d planned to have this day off. It’s important to switch off sometimes as well,” he added. “It is important that players get away from it completely and clear your head.
“The team is making a good impression in terms of fitness. We want to beat Northern Ireland. They have unbelievable fighting spirit and energy. They cover so much ground.”