When the German national team plays, FOCUS Online is on site to provide first-hand reporting insights. In October 2019, I accompany Joachim Löw’s squad to the international friendly against Argentina in Dortmund.
About one month before the match
I apply to the DFB, Germany’s federal football association, for accreditation for the match. At the same time, I look for a suitable hotel from which I can quickly reach the venues.
2- 3 days before the match
I travel to Dortmund to attend the press conferences with the players and DFB officials. Here I have the opportunity to ask questions in a large group in order to provide our FOCUS Online users with the best possible preliminary reporting. Individual interviews are only possible with the prior approval of the DFB. During the training sessions, we are only allowed to follow the first ten minutes live, so it is important to closely observe the session in this time to see any indications of formation and tactics. The highlight of this training is Bayern Munich’s midfielder Serge Gnabry, who spontaneously steps into goal and shows some remarkable saves. It is in moments like this that it becomes clear that the smartphone is a traveling reporter's best friend. My Gnabry clip goes directly to the colleagues in the editorial office.
The night before the game
The pre-game coverage is over, the relaxing part of the trip begins. In the DFB press lounge in the stadium, my fellow journalists and I chat, laugh, and talk about football. Then we hit up the odd bar or two together – this group of sports reporters knows and appreciates each other.
The stadium gates open two hours before the start of the match. I like to get there early to inspect my assigned workplace and soak up the atmosphere in the slowly filling arena.
One hour before kickoff, the team’s line-ups are announced. These can be a source of discussion or provide topics for my follow-up report. This time, Freiburg’s Robin Koch and Luca Waldschmidt are giving their international debut and Bayern Munich’s Joshua Kimmich wears the captain’s armband for the first time.
Kickoff! The match’s live ticker is done by my colleagues in the FOCUS Online editorial office in Munich. I contribute observations and information from the stadium. My primary task during the game, however, is to evaluate the individual performance of the German players and grade them. My critique must be ready shortly after the final whistle so that the FOCUS Online users can read it immediately.
About ten minutes after the end of the game, I hurry down the stairs to the so-called mixed zone, where the players face the questions of the media representatives. Sometimes players don’t want to talk at all and just walk by without making eye contact, but after the 2:2 draw against Argentina, that’s not the case.
By the time I get out of the stadium, it’s 11:45 pm, but I’m still in the middle of my working day. The players’ soundbites that I recorded in the mixed zone have to be written down and analyzed, and another article has to be to composed. The title of my piece is, “Germany’s second guard does better than expected, but the experienced players now have to deliver”.
When these tasks are finished, my watch reads 3:40 am. My analysis is done and sent off, so I go to bed and get a few hours' sleep. The last night of an international match is always the shortest.
The next morning, 8:45 am
My colleagues in Munich publish my article on FOCUS Online - just in time for our users' first coffee of the morning after the match. For me, it's time to pack and go home.