Germany coach Joachim Loew has called on his side to finally start taking their chances as they enter the Euro 2016 knockout phase against Slovakia in Lille on Sunday.
The world champions eased through to the last 16 as winners of Group C by beating Ukraine and Northern Ireland and drawing with Poland.
But while they kept three clean sheets in those games, they found the net just three times. Against Northern Ireland in Paris, they won 1-0 despite having 26 attempts on goal.
“I was not satisfied against Northern Ireland, that is very clear, and neither were the players. We cannot miss so many chances again because we simply won’t have that many anymore,” warned Loew at a press conference on Saturday ahead of the game at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy.
Despite topping their group, Germany have found themselves on the toughest side of the draw and will play either reigning champions Spain or bogey team Italy if they make it through to the quarterfinals.
But they must first be wary of Slovakia, who unsettled Loew’s side in the build-up to the tournament by winning a friendly 3-1 in Augsburg just four weeks ago.
“Slovakia are a different team to Northern Ireland. I think they are a lot stronger,” added Loew.
“We are aware of the quality in their side. They defend well and we won’t have much space to play into or a lot of chances, not as many as we did against Northern Ireland.”
Slovakia made it through to the last 16 in their first appearance at the finals as an independent nation, qualifying from Group B as one of the best third-placed teams after holding England to a goalless draw in their last outing.
“In the group stage I was very surprised by them and they played very well against us in Augsburg. They have experienced players at the back but I think we will find ways to cope with that better than England.”
He must decide whether to keep faith in attack with Mario Gomez, who got the winner against Northern Ireland, or restore Mario Goetze to a ‘false nine’ role.
Meanwhile, Jerome Boateng is set to start in central defence after training on Saturday, an indication that he has shaken off the calf knock that forced him off in the second half against the Northern Irish.
There is a sense that the real competition has not yet started for Germany and that translated to a low-key mood as Loew faced reporters on Saturday and to an extent in the city of Lille itself.