The discussions are heating up. Hummels, Götze, jug, Moukoko, Reus? Which 26 players will Hansi Flick take with him to the World Cup? The national coach also has to make tough decisions for Qatar.
Now Hansi Flick has to make a decision. Do the Rio heroes Mario Götze and Mats Hummels already know? Is Marco Reus threatened with personal tournament drama again? And how often does Niclas Füllkrug or Youssoufa Moukoko look at their cell phones with excitement?
On Thursday at 12.00 sharp, the national coach will answer the football nation’s hotly debated questions in the Frankfurt DFB campus without any fanfare. With the announcement of his 26 players presented on DFB TV and various streaming services, Flick ties his World Cup plan for the ambitious title mission in Qatar to specific names.
A large Bayern block for DFB selection
Very important for the national coach: The strong Bayern block around captain Manuel Neuer and other leaders such as Joshua Kimmich and Leon Goretzka is ready for the attack with the German national soccer team on the fifth title star. Jamal Musiala, Serge Gnabry and Leroy Sané are also in top form just in time. “If we want to be successful in Qatar, the prerequisite is that all players are in top shape. That’s the focus we set,” said Flick, describing his premise for a difficult selection process. The 57-year-old had to do “a lot of mental work”, he said, and have “a lot of conversations”.
“That was also Hansi’s clear idea and clear statement that we would all get in good shape and form,” said Goretzka after Bayern’s 6-1 win over Werder Bremen. The fitness of many candidates remains a problem for Flick in the tight schedule without much advance until the German opening game on November 23 (2 p.m. / ARD and MagentaTV) against Japan. At the weekend, on the last Bundesliga matchday before the World Cup break, there is a risk of further trouble.
“This time the national coach does not have the opportunity to go to a two-week training camp with us, but is already dependent on the work in the club that we all get in good shape, in good shape,” said Goretzka, who himself was only able to overcome his health malaise in the past few weeks.
More question marks around the nomination
Neuer’s shoulder holds. This is essential. But what about Reus’ ankle? Thomas Müller’s hip? Or the foot of Leipzig defender Lukas Klostermann, who Flick would like to have with him for the weak point in the back right? Can you take the risk and take technical gem Florian Wirtz with you without match practice after the cruciate ligament rupture? Flick sees the 19-year-old from Leverkusen more as a candidate for the home European Championship in 2024.
Flick has three more places available due to the squad increase permitted by FIFA. But he has to evaluate each individual case at the last minute. “I can’t take one or the other who deserves it,” he announced. In addition to the physical criteria, Flick will also pay attention to facts such as team building. The sense of togetherness is always very important to him. With the departure next Monday for the three-day training camp in Oman, but at the latest when moving into the World Cup quarters in the Zulal Wellness Resort on the northern tip of Qatar on November 17th, the group must function.
Does that include the opinionated Hummels, who Flick did not consider for any international matches during his short tenure? “There is a clear agreement with him on how we will proceed in relation to the World Cup. But that will remain between us,” was Flick’s attitude. The BVB defender, who had been unsuccessfully reactivated by Joachim Löw for the EM 2021, hopes to the last. “I’ve already communicated that very clearly that I’ll fill in every role that’s given to me as best I can. When I’m there, I weigh everything,” said the 33-year-old on Sky.
“Basically, the question arises here: do we take an experienced player with us to Qatar? Or do we think about the future, nominate a young one and give him the chance to prove himself at the highest level?” said Flick on the defensive issue. That sounded more like Armel Bella-Kotchap (20) from Southampton FC, who made his debut against England (3-3) in September, than Hummels being reactivated for a tournament.
Flick: “The question Müller does not arise”
Flick will set his personal criteria as a last resort. This also includes the fact that the Bayern leader Müller, who has suffered multiple injuries, is also present in Qatar without having played in the Bundesliga for the last time. “The question of Thomas Müller does not arise,” said Flick when he put him on the bench in England. With his 118 caps and his integrative character, the veteran could be an important tournament factor even without the last bit of fitness. Müller himself was very confident as a spectator in the Allianz Arena on Tuesday evening: “Good, everything is on track,” he told the German Press Agency.
Ultimately, this is what differentiates the tournament veteran, bitter as it is, from Reus, who, like before the 2014 World Cup, is likely to be eliminated from the World Cup again due to his ankle injury. But how does the national coach feel about Rio winning goal scorer Götze? In any case, current performance and fitness, two central flick criteria, are right for the New Frankfurter.
One difference to previous tournament nominations: Mister X is not really wanted. Sensations like the nomination of David Odonkor in 2006 or Shkodran Mustafi in 2014 are not expected. For weeks, all possible candidates have been widely discussed in public. Bremen striker Füllkrug (29) and BVB teenager Moukoko (17) actually have a good chance of a pleasant Flick call at the latest after top striker Timo Werner suffered a bad injury.