Julian Nagelsmann is now feeling the pressure. The national coach only has one chance to heat up the European Championship atmosphere in 2023. Opponent Austria is waiting with self-confidence and relaxed sayings.
Julian Nagelsmann in Vienna has no time for the pre-Christmas atmosphere at the Prater and St. Stephen’s Cathedral. For good reasons, the national coach will forego a ride on the Ferris wheel, candy floss or a warming mulled wine at one of the wooden stalls that have already been set up.
After the sobering, confusing setback against Turkey, the next emotional European Championship test in Austria on Tuesday (8.45 p.m./ZDF) is the last chance to go into the home European Championship year with a reasonably good feeling.
This is followed by a four long month international break. It could be very difficult if the national soccer team suffers from another bankruptcy with its small arch-rival. The last impression always sticks. And then the Netherlands and Italy are also looming as possible group opponents in the European Championship draw on December 2nd.
“No one is set”
“No one is set and everyone is invited to give their best,” Nagelsmann repeated a motto after the frustrating 2:3 in Berlin. The clear message: no one can let up now.
The Austrian capital welcomed the DFB team almost frostily after the short flight from Berlin. With an initial analysis of the defeat in his luggage, Nagelsmann began the final preparation for the duel and reunion with Ralf Rangnick. The 36-year-old would certainly like to win the personal tactics competition with the German coaching guru in the service of Austria, even for selfish reasons. After three games he already has the worst starting record as a national coach since Erich Ribbeck in 1998.
Havertz role put to the test
Above all, football Germany is now waiting for answers from the national coach. The long-term symptoms of the failed Flick period immediately became apparent again against Turkey when Nagelsmann tried something (pretty crazy) tactically with Kai Havertz as the left full-back. The chances are sloppy at the front and tend to be confusing at the back. The home European Championship will definitely not be another summer fairy tale.
So what solutions does Nagelsmann offer against the currently pretty self-confident Austrians? Whether Kevin Trapp replaces Marc-André ter Stegen, who has a back problem, in goal again or whether one of the newcomers Oliver Baumann and Janis Blaswich gets to play is still the least important component. The Havertz experiment was even a European Championship option, the national coach had already indicated continuity for this position. And the former Bayern coach may be stubborn enough to go against public opinion.
But does Mats Hummels also work in the remaining three-man chain in this courageous system? Or will the veteran, who was quickly chosen as a leader, fall through the tactics grid because of his lack of speed? It is also unclear who exactly Nagelsmann meant when he spoke of a lack of emotionality among some players. Julian Brandt had provided plenty of arguments against Turkey for being addressed. But Havertz could very well take over his position in the absence of the injured Jamal Musiala.
Next man for Gündogan
But the crucial question remains anyway: What to do with Joshua Kimmich? All components speak for a move back to the right wing-back position. A gap in stability would be closed there, and in the six-man center there would be space for an urgently needed real ball conqueror like Pascal Groß alongside captain Ilkay Gündogan. That worked excellently in America against the USA (3:1) and Mexico (2:2), when Kimmich was missing with a fever.
Nagelsmann had announced that he wanted to find a place in the team for all the top players if possible – even if it was for Havertz at the back left. Wanting to please everyone with playing time was a cardinal mistake made by predecessor Hansi Flick during the World Cup disaster in Qatar. That may also explain the shocked reactions of fans and experts to the new national coach’s personal volte-face.
The task in Vienna will not be easy. Austria is on a bit of a football frenzy with Rangnick. “The Austrians have a really good team. If you go through the first eleven or even 13 or 14, there are really good players who are regulars at the absolute top clubs in Europe,” said Rudi Völler to Bayerischer Rundfunk.
Völler praise for Rangnick
“Putting them together is Ralf Rangnick’s job, he’s done it well so far,” the DFB sports director praised the team building in the neighboring country, which Nagelsmann is currently doing. “I believe that they will not only make life difficult for us in Vienna, but will also play a good European Championship,” predicted Völler.
The opponent does not lack self-confidence for the Germany duel and the European Championship. “We don’t have a chance, we played a good qualification, we’re in a good mood and we’re a really great team. We’ll make it as difficult as possible for Germany and see that we win the game,” said Christoph Baumgartner from RB Leipzig, one of them many Bundesliga professionals in the Austria squad. And a little insult is always possible anyway. “We’re not coming here just to be there, we want to show what we skiers can do.”
I am Pierce Boyd, a driven and ambitious professional working in the news industry. I have been writing for 24 Hours Worlds for over five years, specializing in sports section coverage. During my tenure at the publication, I have built an impressive portfolio of articles that has earned me a reputation as an experienced journalist and content creator.