Low looking ahead to World Cup defence

Ahead of two important Euro 2016 qualifiers, Germany coach Joachim Low's focus is split, with Russia 2018 already in his thoughts.

Germany coach Joachim Low has revealed the 2018 World Cup is already on his mind as he plans "Mission: Title Defence".

While Germany are in the midst of their qualifying campaign for Euro 2016 - they face Poland on Friday and Scotland three days later - Low is already putting together strategies for his team's defence of the crown they claimed in Brazil last year.

"The European Championships in France is for us a great goal but our thoughts go already beyond in all plans," Low told Suddeutsche Zeitung.

"We have the 2018 World Cup in mind - Mission: Title Defence."

Part of Low's plans for Russia 2018 is to manage the output of new skipper Bastian Schweinsteiger, who replaced Philipp Lahm as captain after Brazil 2014.

Schweinsteiger, 31, has endured a mixed start to his Manchester United career after joining from Bayern Munich but Low remains convinced of the midfielder's importance to Germany.

"Maybe I need Bastian now no longer in every match," he said.

"I need him when it is important for us. Then I know that he performs and assumes responsibility and his will to win is like no other."

Looking ahead to next year's continental championships in France, however, Low underlined the importance of Poland's trip to Frankfurt on Friday.

Poland lead Group D with 14 points heading into the match, with Germany (13) in second and Scotland (11) in third.

"The decisive factor for me is that we can be on our own as leaders," Low added.

"The goal is to win both games. I know many players of my team for many years and I know that, in games like against Poland, they are motivated to the tips of their hair."