Germany seeking redemption for World Cup failure - Manuel Neuer

Neuer: German players must move on from World Cup exit (0:32)

Manuel Neuer insists despite the stressing nature of Germany's World Cup exit, the playing group must move on. (0:32)

Captain Manuel Neuer said Germany know they have to atone for their World Cup disappointment when they face champions France in their UEFA Nations League opener on Thursday.

Germany, who won the competition four years earlier, exited after the group stages in June in what was their worst performance since 1938.

Following a turbulent summer that included Mesut Ozil retiring amid claims of racism, Neuer said it was good to get back on the pitch after months of discussions about Germany's future.

"We want to play football again," Neuer said. "We know that we all must atone for a lot. We are delighted the stadium here in Munich is sold out. The people want to see us. Of course, we are also playing the world champions."

Coach Joachim Low has not made many changes to the squad, and instead of a new beginning with new names, he hopes he can turn fortunes around with 17 players who made the trip to Russia.

Bayern Munich forward Thomas Muller believes Low made a wise choice when selecting his squad.

"For Russia, the coach did not select the squad just like that, but rather because he was convinced the players were on board," Muller said. "And it's not like three months on, there are 20 better players [for Low to select] now.

"After such a disappointment, the motivation is high for everyone to prove to himself and the public they can still do it."

UEFA Nations League full draw
Watch on ESPN networks in the U.S.
Schedule: Sep. 6 | Sep. 7 | Sep. 8 | Sep. 9 | Sep. 10 | Sep. 11

Instead of making changes to the squad, Low took the blame for his possession-based style at the World Cup and insisted to focus on defending more.

Muller said they already got a first taste of it during their first post-World Cup training session, but added they will not completely "deviate from our path."

"Defending the goal will play an even bigger role in our thoughts than in the past," he said. "But we are a team with a lot of quality on the ball, and that's why we should have it. But add to many details to it and not be successful."

Low, at a news conference last week, said he failed to ignite a burning desire for success within the squad, and Muller said he believes the phrase was used to simplify things.

"I think we were all 100 percent motivated, but in failure, players and media start looking for explanations -- and that's the easy explanation," Muller said.

Muller also addressed a recent report by Der Spiegel of a rift in the Germany squad during the World Cup.

While Neuer did not comment on the report, claiming he did not read it, Muller said it is normal for some people to get along better than others.

"We get along really well, but if there is no success, people start digging and sometimes don't find anything," Muller said. "When there's no success, many issues and details are used to describe the atmosphere. It's legit, but I can deny there are any rifts."