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European Championship quarter-finals: Search for Spain code: Völler dribbles, Nagelsmann tinkers

European Championship quarter-finals: Search for Spain code: Völler dribbles, Nagelsmann tinkers
European Championship quarter-finals: Search for Spain code: Völler dribbles, Nagelsmann tinkers

Beat Spain: In search of that rare footballing feeling of happiness, the national coach has begun preparing for the European Championship quarter-finals. The greed is great, the concentration high.

Toni Kroos and Jamal Musiala were busy warming up on the spinning bikes in the fitness tent when Rudi Völler couldn’t take it anymore. Behind the boards of the national team’s training ground, the DFB sports director grabbed a ball and started dribbling happily. Displacement activity. Impatience. Football passion. Julian Nagelsmann’s assistant coach Sandro Wagner looked on in surprise at the 64-year-old Völler, but was then called by the national coach for the final meeting.

Right from the first full training session before the big European Championship quarter-final against the ultimate test of Spain, it was clear: now it counts, now every detail counts for the dream of winning the title. The path to the final on July 14 in Berlin, which has been set with momentum, should not end at the penultimate step on Friday (6 p.m./ARD/Magenta TV) in the Stuttgart tournament dead end.

Greed and Momentum

“We have to let the momentum spill over to us, that we are in control, then we can hurt the Spaniards,” said Leroy Sané on Tuesday, setting out the goal for the working week. The greed is “extreme,” assured his Munich teammate Joshua Kimmich in a TV interview between the reeds and the water’s edge on the edge of the small lake not far from the European Championship quarters. “We only have finals left, anything is possible. With Spain we have a very good opponent to see where we stand,” said the Bayern professional to ARD.

Nagelsmann was already watching the warm-up exercises on Tuesday very closely. Expectations are also rising for the national coach. Those from outside, as well as those he has imposed on himself. The national coach had three mini goals and two normal-sized goals set up centrally on the training pitch. Playing in a confined space must be perfected.

The Spanish clearly stand out in terms of tactics, technique and intensity at the European Championships. Rodrigo Hernández Cascante, or Rodri for short, European Championship shooting star Nico Williams and his teenage counterpart on the right wing, Lamine Yamal, have so far demonstrated Spanish football sovereignty with dominance and ease.

Sané impressed by Yamal

Sané is particularly fond of Barcelona’s young star Yamal. “To be able to play football like that at the age of 16 is very impressive. It’s just fun to watch, especially because I play in the same position,” said the 28-year-old. With Yamal and Williams, Spain has changed its style of play. Sané has recognized not only ball control, but also quick play to the strikers as a danger.

Daniel Carvajal represents Real Madrid’s title-winning mentality for the opposition. Bundesliga greats such as Bayer Leverkusen’s champion player Alejandro Grimaldo and RB professional Dani Olmo are only substitutes. Olmo’s Leipzig club colleague David Raum finds this astonishing.

“They’re never really easy to predict,” said the 26-year-old. Should we be afraid? Not at all, says Raum. “We have to give them challenges. We have to stop them as a whole team,” demanded the left-back.

Raum has fought his way into the team. Nevertheless, Maximilian Mittelstädt remains a tough competitor. A prime example of the metamorphosis in Nagelsmann’s role play at the European Championships. After the same starting eleven played in each of the three group matches, there is now competition for some positions. It’s the knockout phase. That’s where the pressure is increasing. There is no certainty of playing yet, reported Sané.

Only one trio has beaten Spain

Nagelsmann has done everything right with his personnel policy so far. But Spain, and that is the dilemma, punishes every mistake. That is what recent German football history has taught us. There have only been two victories in this millennium. Of the European Championship squad, only Kroos, Antonio Rüdiger and Thomas Müller know the feeling of beating Spain, having been part of the 1-0 win in Vigo in 2014. Kroos scored the goal back then.

For Sané, history should not determine his thinking. He was there during the 0-6 humiliation in 2020. “Of course that hurt a lot,” he recalled the November night in Seville. But: “In the end, it’s the past. We have the chance to get to the next round, that’s what it’s all about,” said the Munich player.

On Tuesday, only Dortmund’s Emre Can was absent from the pitch due to slight muscular problems. Another substitute appearance would not be in danger at the moment. Leverkusen’s Jonathan Tah is back in defence after his yellow card suspension against Denmark. Nico Schlotterbeck had replaced him excellently in the round of 16 as Rüdiger’s partner.

Three-man defense unlikely

The national coach spoke of a “luxury situation”. A tactical change to a chain with all three central defenders would be a Solomonic trick. Nagelsmann likes this version of the tactics. But what kind of signal would that send? We are afraid. “I don’t see us playing with a five-man or three-man chain coming,” said Kimmich.

What Tah is in defence, his Leverkusen champion colleague Florian Wirtz is in attack. The 21-year-old wants to push Sané out of the starting eleven after his role as a joker in the round of 16. And all of Europe is looking forward to the duel between the young star quartet. Musiala & Wirtz against Williams & Jamal. This is the football of a new era.

Captain Ilkay Gündogan, Musiala, who has already scored three goals in the tournament, and Kai Havertz are set to play in the attack. Despite the media hype surrounding his attacking rival and fan favorite Niclas Füllkrug, the national coach has long since refused to allow public interference in his personnel matters.

Havertz to step up

Nagelsmann explicitly praised Havertz after the 2-0 win against Denmark, in which he scored the first goal from a penalty in his 50th international match. “He worked hard, defensively and offensively. I would have liked him to score one more goal,” said Nagelsmann. Havertz can make up for it. Preferably against Spain.

Source: Stern

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