After arriving in Oman, the national players have to adapt to the World Cup conditions. A final test should bring security. And answer questions. Is Mueller fit? And is Rüdiger ready to go?
Sleep in, acclimatize – and get right back to work.
Only 17 hours after the late arrival in Muscat, which was still very warm even at midnight, Hansi Flick had the first training session for his World Cup staff around team senior Manuel Neuer (36) and the 17-year-old team youngster Youssoufa Moukoko Extremely short preparation for a tournament. At sunset, rehearsals should take place in a relaxed session in the Sultan Kabus Stadium for the final form test against hosts Oman.
However, the 994th DFB international match a week before the emergency against Japan will not be a real dress rehearsal for the World Cup. Because the national coach does not want to call up his dream team for the very important group start exactly a week later in Qatar, but at most parts of it.
Climate change as a challenge
In the luxury hotel on the Persian Gulf with all the amenities such as a pool, spa and private beach, the 25 World Cup players who had traveled to the hotel, with the exception of goalkeeper Marc-André ter Stegen who was ill, were able to relax for a few hours on Tuesday. It is important to cope with the climate change from the German autumn to the challenging desert weather during the day and the time change of plus three hours as quickly as possible. “It’s good to be there beforehand and to accept the temperatures and the times of day. That was important to us,” Flick had already emphasized in advance.
Of course, the 57-year-old is also leading the way in the Sultanate. The DFB entourage had arrived in the quarter at night in two buses labeled “Germany Football Team” by the host Oman. Flick was the first to walk past a few onlookers and, after a short “Servus”, carried his trolley case up a steep flight of stairs. Then the national coach disappeared in the direction of the lobby, as did the ever-smiling national team returnee Mario Götze. Time is of the essence, a World Cup tournament in the middle of the season is new territory for everyone.
Breaks for long-distance runners
Flick has to look carefully and weigh up how he deals with his players. “Everyone has a lot of games in their legs. So it’s important for us, especially in the first few days, to see who might need a little break,” he said of his thoughts. Long-term performers like Joshua Kimmich, Ilkay Gündogan or the offensive magician Jamal Musiala, who has long since shot up to become a great tournament trump, could sit out the last World Cup test run – or at least not play through 90 minutes.
The second international match against Oman is important – after a 2-0 win in February 1998 – but it is. “We only have one more friendly, so it will be important for us to be safe,” commented goalkeeper Neuer. For some team greats like Thomas Müller and Antonio Rüdiger, who were recently injured, the friendly duel is even an endurance test. Are they actually ready for a grueling World Cup tournament?
“We’re counting on him and hope that we can use him, that’s our goal so we can then take the next step,” said Flick to attacker Müller, who was suspended for weeks at Bayern Munich due to multiple problems (back, hips, adductors). had to. The rhythm is gone. A Müller mission could also show how and, above all, where Flick plans with the 33-year-old attacker. Musiala is the new super ten. But at the front a replacement is being sought for the injured Timo Werner. Flick thinks about his pressing.
Hope for Müller and Rüdiger
“Our idea is that we want to put the opponent under pressure. That’s why we need a player who can attack, who is tactically well integrated into the whole, who is ready to go this route,” explained the national coach. Müller could perhaps be exactly this player, actually more than Kai Havertz or the massive Serge Gnabry.
Antonio Rüdiger was also recently taken out of play at Real Madrid due to hip problems. But there was a close exchange between the DFB doctors and the Real doctors. “Toni is our defense chief,” said Flick about the importance of the 29-year-old. That’s another reason why there was no place in the squad for an alpha animal like Mats Hummels. The Dortmund veteran could have impaired Rüdiger’s creative freedom and his chief role, as well as the position and status of Niklas Süle. In the center of defence, coaches don’t like to change coaches during a tournament, unlike in the offensive area.
Götze comeback is approaching
That’s why Mario Götze can hope, after five years without playing for Germany, not only to celebrate his international comeback against Oman, but also to get a fulfilling tournament role in Qatar. The form of the final hero of 2014 is correct. “The last games were at a very high level,” praised Flick. Perhaps the national coach will also let storm talent Moukoko and Bremen’s late-call striker Niclas Füllkrug (29) make their senior debuts at the first opportunity, making them full national players in his Qatar squad before the start of the World Cup.
Almost a third of the Germans trust Flick and his team to reach the semifinals there. This is the result of a representative survey by the opinion research institute YouGov on behalf of the German Press Agency. However, 20 percent of those surveyed then expect to be knocked out in the semi-finals in the title fight. Only 7 percent believe in winning the title, 4 percent expect a defeat in the final on December 18th. But that’s still a long way off for Flick and his players in Oman.