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Start against Japan: World Cup tension in the DFB team is growing – toil in “Fort Knox”

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With the World Cup kick-off in Qatar, the tension in the DFB-Elf increases. The time until the Japan game is short. Hansi Flick sharpens the senses. And Manuel Neuer determines the topic of conversation at the lunch table.

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The two short whistles from Hansi Flick’s red whistle shrill loudly through the German training stronghold in Al-Shamal. The national coach’s instructions echo off the thick brick walls that keep out the approaching desert storm.

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In the practice area with the four striking red towers, which Oliver Bierhoff has chosen to be “Fort Knox”, people work hard. Flick is focused, has switched to title mode and talks to the players gathered around him several times. The turbo preparation of the national soccer team for the start of the World Cup against Japan is underway.

Gnabry: “We’re all a little tense”

“We’re all a bit tense. We can’t wait for the World Cup to start,” said Bayern attacker Serge Gnabry. Manuel Neuer recognized the unusual situation long before his fourth World Cup finals. “Of course it’s something special, the circumstances are different because the preparation is very short,” the DFB captain warned of full concentration. The only 100 hours between the first team training in Qatar and the kick-off on Wednesday (2 p.m. / ARD and MagentaTV) in the Chalifa International Stadium in Doha literally melts between your hands like desert sand.

Neuer’s announcement is clear. Now only football can be felt, lived and thought. In this way, the time disadvantage, which applies equally to all tournament favorites but is particularly detrimental to the German tournament virtues, can be compensated. “It will be important that we talk to each other a lot. Especially when we don’t have the time now to do special training sessions, we have to talk about football over dinner, for example,” demanded the 36-year-old, who played in Qatar for the World Cup wants to be a record goalkeeper.

Bierhoff “not the tournament favourite”

Oliver Bierhoff also called for a concentrated countdown to the extremely complicated opening game against Asia’s record champions. Everyone knows that even a draw against the fast and uncomfortable Japanese would increase the pressure for the top group game against Spain four days later.

“It could be a disadvantage for us that we don’t have two or three weeks of preparation,” mused DFB director Bierhoff. “The German team has always lived from the group and not from the individual. That’s also important for us now, despite the quality of the individual players we have,” said the 54-year-old.

The German team is “not the tournament favorite” for Bierhoff, but a candidate for winning the title. Topics outside of sport, such as the debate about Neuer’s One Love captain’s armband or the Qatari hosts’ ban on beer for fans in the stadiums, must not distract. On Sunday evening there was still a socio-political appointment. In the stadium of the Al-Shamal Sports Club, 20 young women from the region were to play the game. FIFA is organizing a good will campaign for all 32 World Cup teams.

That shouldn’t shift the focus. “We’ll have to be prepared for the fact that this will be a tough fight. It won’t be magic,” was Bierhoff’s World Cup prophecy. “We are warned to be fully focused from the first minute. Then anything is possible with the team,” he said. The debacle in Russia four years ago with the historic preliminary round is still in the back of our minds.

Neuer: Come “in a flow” if successful

Gnabry also made it clear once again how important a good start is and recalled the seven-title series with Flick not long ago at Bayern. “The whole thing comes from the sense of achievement, from the good games, from the victories, where this spirit and the thirst for success can grow,” said the Munich attacker.

The 36-year-old team senior Neuer also made it clear how important a successful start to the tournament is for the DFB team. If you succeed, you can “get into a flow”, like in the 4-0 win over Portugal before winning the title in Brazil in 2014. The counter-example was the 0-1 draw against Mexico four years ago in Russia.

Thomas Müller and Antonio Rüdiger gave positive signals. The top performers who were recently injured were able to fully complete the first team training session. Concrete forecasts were difficult after the first major impact. The Bayern veteran and the Real defensive giant were unable to play for weeks due to muscular problems and hip problems. For Flick, they are crucial World Cup building blocks.

Gnabry sees his Munich teammate Müller, who like Neuer wants to play his fourth World Cup, already in tournament shape. “He’s full of ambition, full of tension and anticipation. You can tell he ticks a little more because he talks more. He’s happy, he’s done everything in the last few weeks and worked very hard to get back in top form .”

If Müller is fit, he could fill the vacant position in the center of the attack following the absence of Leipzig’s Timo Werner, especially since Niclas Füllkrug had to sit out training after his winning goal in Oman because of a flu infection. Gnabry prefers to play behind, centrally or over the wing, as he emphasized on Sunday.

Bierhoff sees all possibilities for Flick in the line-up at the Chalifa International Stadium. “It would be bad if Hansi had no options, that would give me a headache,” said Bierhoff. The national coach already has the core of the starting eleven in mind.

Source: Stern

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