EPPAN (Italy) • Germany's World Cup-winning coach Joachim Low yesterday ruled himself out of the running to take over at Real Madrid, after reports he had been approached to replace Zinedine Zidane.
"Of course I can completely rule that out now," he told reporters at Germany's World Cup training camp at Eppan in northern Italy, after Spanish daily Marca claimed Real had already approached the 58-year-old German.
"Real Madrid will surely find a very, very good substitute for Zinedine Zidane. His resignation surprised me a little, but he is the best judge of whether the team has reached its peak (under him).
"If he feels now is the right time, then you have to respect that."
Low has only recently signed a contract extension with the German football federation (DFB), until the 2022 World Cup, and says he is fully focused on successfully defending the world title in Russia.
He is preparing for a warm-up match against Austria today without Bayern Munich stars Thomas Muller and Mats Hummels as he rests them after a long season.
Both players will remain in Italy along with club team-mate Jerome Boateng, working back towards full fitness following a muscle injury late in the season.
Midfielder Toni Kroos will arrive in Italy today after a brief break following his Champions League victory with Real but fellow 2014 World Cup winners Mesut Ozil and Sami Khedira, who suffered late-season injuries, will play some part against Austria.
Surprise addition Nils Petersen will also get playing time with Low praising the Freiburg forward, who is battling for a spot in the squad along with fellow forwards Mario Gomez and Timo Werner.
"The impression I have of him has only been getting better," Low said of the versatile forward. "He is working really hard."
Low has taken 27 players into his preliminary squad and will cut four of them, including one goalkeeper, on Monday for his final 23.
The friendly in Klagenfurt, Austria, represents their penultimate test ahead of this month's World Cup. They also host Saudi Arabia on Friday before leaving for Russia.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS