As the reigning World Champions, they definitely don’t lack self-confidence. It is why the “Deutsche Fußball-Bund” (DFB – German Football Association) this year in June – long before the team had clinched their place in France – confidently communicated that the national team would take up residence on the banks of Lake Geneva for the duration of the 2016 European Championship. To be more exact, they will be based in the four-star Hôtel Ermitage. Built in 1909, it nestles in a 19-hectare park situated above the town of Évian-les-Bains on the “Plateau des Mateirons”.
At the time, the organisational planning was far more advanced than the on-the-pitch planning as the German national team was facing a difficult autumn in which they had to ensure they qualified for the championship. Despite the 1-0 defeat in Ireland, Germany duly booked their ticket to the European Championship final with ease by beating Poland (3-1), Scotland 3-2 away and Georgia 2-1, and thus confirmed the DFB were right to plan early. General Manager Oliver Bierhoff hopes the base will give the team an advantage similar to the one they had in Brazil in 2014 when they stayed in the already legendary “Campo Bahia”. “The World Cup is the past and now the focus is on the European Championship in France. Insights gained at recent tournaments tell us that we need to have the organisational and logistics planning in place at an early stage,” explained Bierhoff. The general manager had previously travelled the length and breadth of France to find the ideal solution. “Important for the base camp is that it is compact and everything is within easy reach. We don’t want to make any concessions. Having travelled all over the country in the past few months, we have found what we were looking for in Evian even though we had various options right up until the last minute,” continued Bierhoff.
Like in Brazil, the surrounding area should add to the players’ well-being and promote a relaxed atmosphere during the four-week tournament. Bierhoff is pleased with the choice: “In Hôtel Ermitage we’ll have the perfect conditions in which we can work in peace and quiet, train and regenerate. Lake Geneva and the Alps lend an impressive backdrop and the proximity of the town of Evian and the good working facilities for the accompanying media are other plus points.” The four-star hotel is situated above the town of Évian-les-Bains on Plateau des Mateirons 125 metres above the lake in a 19-hectare park. The hotel was completely renovated in 2010 and has 80 rooms plus 11 conference rooms that can be converted into offices and workrooms. For regenerative training, there is the hotel’s own Quatre Terres health spa. Geneva Airport is 45 kilometres away and the Évian-les-Bains town centre is three kilometres down the road. Only 1000 metres separate the Stade Camille Fournier practice pitches and the hotel.
Before the squad moves into the base camp shortly before the start of the tournament on 10 June, they will have a ten to 12-day training camp behind them – but not in France. Instead they will, in all probability, go to Switzerland in a place popular amongst holidaymakers. Though the details still have to be finalised, the DFB entourage will, as they did for the whole of the EURO 2008, set up camp in Ticino to prepare for the European Championship. In Ascona on the banks of Lago Maggiore, the finishing touches will be put to the team in their efforts to add the EURO 2016 title to its World Cup win.
Attractive warm-up games await the players before they finally set off for Ticino where the final EURO 2016 squad will named on 31 May. The friendlies are all real tests in which potential squad members can recommend themselves. First up is the game against championship hosts France in Paris on 13 November and then four days later the national side will be a home to the Netherlands in Hanover. Scheduled for the new year are matches against England in Berlin on 26 March and against Italy in Munich on 29 March. Four encounter therefore against big rivals in which the German team can find their World Cup form that they rarely showed during the European Championship qualifiers. After topping their group with something to spare in the end, the DFB can nevertheless look forward with relative ease to 12 December when the groups are drawn in Paris. Irrespective of what happens in the four play-offs in November, Germany will head the seeded teams in the top pot which will also include hosts France, title-holders Spain and the teams with the best UEFA co-efficiency, namely England, Portugal and Belgium.
Italy has only made it into the second pot and will therefore avoid Russia, Switzerland, Austria and Croatia in the group phase. Whether the Czech Republic is in the second pot depends on the results of the play-offs (12 to 17 November) between Sweden and Denmark, Ireland and Bosnia, Norway and Hungary as well as Slovenia and Ukraine. Currently certain of a place in pot 3 are therefore only Poland, Romania and Slovakia. Turkey may join them but they could drop down to pot 4 with Iceland, Wales, Albanian and Northern Ireland after the play-offs.
Irrespective of who Germany are drawn against on 12 December, the DFB side only has one aim anyway – the European Championship title. The team can look forward to the full support of the people living in the immediate vicinity of their base camp. Évian is already eagerly awaiting the arrival of the co-favourites: “It’s a big honour for us to play host to the reigning world champions,” said Yannick Le Hec, the general manager of the Évian resort. He added, “We wish the German team all the very best for the competition.“