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European Football Championship: Energy through redemption: Nagelsmann has to work night shift

European Football Championship: Energy through redemption: Nagelsmann has to work night shift
European Football Championship: Energy through redemption: Nagelsmann has to work night shift

Was that the special moment of the European Championship? Top joker Füllkrug and top strategist Kroos feel prepared for the knockout round. The national coach feels a special energy, but is worried about his defense.

The last-minute group victory had just been achieved when Julian Nagelsmann reported on a previously unknown problem at the European Championships – and he did not mean the impending loss of his entire central defense. More than Harry Kane and his Englishman as the national football team’s first possible knockout opponent, Julian Nagelsmann fears a large swarm of annoying insects. This could force the 36-year-old to rethink his approach when observing the four remaining candidates for the round of 16 in the team’s headquarters in Herzogenaurach late on Tuesday evening.

“We always have a big screen outside where many of the players watch the games. However, we have a terrible mosquito plague, so we have to see if there is a bit of wind. Otherwise we go to the office and watch it,” said the 36-year-old about his TV plans.

Withstand adversity, turn things around with a substitute strategy. Alongside the problem with the little Franconian bloodsuckers, this was actually the main issue for the national coach after the 1:1 draw against Switzerland and the “energy explosion” caused by the late equalizer from super-sub Niclas Füllkrug.

Question mark behind Rüdiger

Another risk signal was the diagnosis of Antonio Rüdiger’s strained thigh on Monday. If the second central defender is also out after the yellow-card suspension of Jonathan Tah, Nagelsmann will have to completely reorganize the defensive center. Nico Schlotterbeck and Waldemar Anton would have to step in as backups – a potentially high-stakes game is looming.

The signals that Nagelsmann otherwise receives from his team can, however, make the national coach confident that the mechanisms will work in the first all-or-nothing game on Saturday (9 p.m.) in the packed Dortmund football temple. No matter who the opponents are: England, Denmark, Slovenia or Serbia. “We have shown again and again that we can deal with being behind, that we believe in ourselves until the end. That helps the team,” said Toni Kroos.

But the six-time Champions League winner knows exactly what is required now. Otherwise, his great career will end three games too early in the European Championship round of 16. “Now come the games in which we have to be variable, in which we have to react to different scores,” demanded the 34-year-old. Like against Switzerland. Like Nagelsmann, Kroos assures: “I believe that we are prepared.”

Salvation brings energy

The national coach believes in tournament psychology. A 4-0 win against the Swiss would have been nice. But this magical Füllkrug moment for the deserved and yet lucky equalizer might help more, argued Nagelsmann. The memory of Oliver Neuville’s late summer fairytale goal in the 1-0 win against Poland in 2006 did not immediately spring to mind for the national coach, but the formula could be the same. Late redemption = great energy. “That could have been a turning point for us as a team,” said Füllkrug.

Nagelsmann has identified a special trait in his team. “It’s a very special spirit. It’s something special that can trigger a lot,” he said. And everything fits together. The potential disruptive noises have been eliminated. As captain, Ilkay Gündogan is a leader, not a follower. Goalkeeper Manuel Neuer is again playing like a number one. And Füllkrug is the insurance for all eventualities – as previously described.

Returning to the team quarters is a time to take a deep breath. When the DFB team arrived back in Herzogenaurach in the middle of the night, the players pulled their silver suitcases into the quarters, murmuring quietly. Joshua Kimmich had his sleeping son in his arms. On the giant screen mentioned by Nagelsmann, on a jersey-pink background, it said: “Welcome Home”.

Night shift for Nagelsmann and analysts

The usual regeneration training was scheduled for Monday. Everyone has the day off on Tuesday. The national coach and his analysts, however, have to work the night shift. The schedule makes preparation for the round of 16 more difficult. Videos have to be edited and analyses that have already begun have to be completed. Nagelsmann wants to present a tactic to his players on Wednesday, the most important training day for him. His analysts Leonard Höhn and Frederik Hölscher will therefore have to prepare the material “all night long”, the national coach made clear.

Nagelsmann has to make decisions. At least one change is necessary in the starting eleven due to Tah’s yellow card suspension. If Rüdiger is not fit, two changes are necessary. Schlotterbeck and Anton both deserve to play, said Nagelsmann, before he knew Rüdiger’s diagnosis. “We have confidence in the whole squad,” said Nagelsmann.

The filling jug paradox

And up front? Can top scorer Füllkrug play? Always slowly, Nagelsmann’s answer might have expressed. Füllkrug’s strength as a joker is an argument against a starting eleven appearance, for which Kai Havertz has not disappointed the national coach’s trust. But no one comes off the bench as explosively as Füllkrug. He was substituted in all five of his tournament games at the 2022 World Cup and the current European Championship – and scored four times. It is “joy and sorrow at the same time that he fulfills both,” said Nagelsmann.

The Füllkrug paradox is the best example of Nagelsmann’s personnel strategy working again. Cross from David Raum, goal from Füllkrug. The goal combination from two jokers made it clear that the national coach had not only laid a stable foundation for a starting eleven with his role assignment. The substitutes also delivered without causing frustration. “That’s why we did it this way,” said Nagelsmann about the competitive situation.

Source: Stern

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