Vatutinki, Russia (dpa) - Germany defender Joshua Kimmich often hears comparisons between himself and Philipp Lahm. But the up-and-coming star said Friday he is only playing his first World Cup and cannot yet match the accolades of the long-time Germany and Bayern Munich leader.
"He played right back and characterized the Bayern and German national team for years. When he retired he was the captain of both teams and an absolute leader. I am now 23-years-old and it's obvious that I cannot replace that one for one," Kimmich told a news conference at Germany's world Cup base in Vatutinki. "I am not that far. I don't have the experience. But I am not trying to copy him. I am trying to be Joshua Kimmich, not Philipp Lahm 2.0." Just like Lahm did, Kimmich plays right back for both Bayern and the German national team - also venturing forward often to help out offensively.
Germany midfielder Toni Kroos on Thursday said Kimmich was well on his way to becoming a world class player and Lahm's successor, having shone at last year's Confederations Cup and continued his fine form all season at Bayern, scoring six goals to go with 17 assists this term in all competitions. "Of course you are happy to hear that from such a player like Toni Kroos. Praise is always good. But you always want to improve yourself and live up to your own expectations," Kimmich said. "Praise is good, but it's also a certain motivation."
Kimmich said he is anxiously awaiting Sunday's start of the World Cup for the reigning champions against Mexico in Group F in Moscow. "We watched yesterday's game (Russia's win over Saudi Arabia) together and we will all be happy when it finally starts," he said. "You want to have a good performance, not for yourself but for the team. We want to have a good start." Kimmich said the Mexicans will be a challenge for Germany, especially after he believes the Central Americans were the better team at the Confed Cup last year - despite Germany's 4-1 win in the semi-finals.
"The Mexicans were better than us last year. We profited from a number of mistakes and scored our goals that way. That's why we won," he said. One of the goal scorers in that game was Timo Werner, who like Kimmich is making his World Cup debut in Russia. Kimmich has high expectations for the RB Leipzig striker. "I have known him since 2013 and we went through the entire German youth ranks together," he said. Kimmich even thinks the 22-year-old Werner could become the World Cup goal-scoring king - a feat he accomplished at the Confed Cup with three goals and two assists. "That should not put any pressure on him but I would be really happy for him. He is an absolute weapon," Kimmich said of Werner.