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German line-up there - Flick's surprising change

National coach Hansi Flick initially leaves striker Niclas Füllkrug on the bench again in the decisive World Cup preliminary round match against Costa Rica.

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German line-up there - Flick's surprising change

National coach Hansi Flick initially leaves striker Niclas Füllkrug on the bench again in the decisive World Cup preliminary round match against Costa Rica. As against Spain, Thomas Müller starts in the storm center. The only change from Flick's 1-1 on Sunday was surprising. He takes Thilo Kehrer out on right-back. New in the team is not a full-back, but offensive player Leroy Sané.

Füllkrug had created a lot of momentum against Spain after coming on and scored the equaliser. The Werder Bremen striker is likely to return as a wildcard against Costa Rica. DFB director Oliver Bierhoff revealed that Joshua Kimmich will move from defensive midfield to right-back in the back four.

"It was a difficult decision for the coach because Niclas Füllkrug had a great start. We really want to win the game. Joshua Kimmich plays at right. We have to play aggressively and go deeper," said Bierhoff on ARD.

Spain coach Luis Enrique dares not experiment against Japan. The Spanish national coach brings in his best XI for the final group game against Japan.

In Group F there was a dramatic finale in the evening with a surprising group winner:

The timing seems strange: just a few hours before their national teams meet at the World Cup, the football associations of Spain and Japan announced a collaboration. This was announced by the Spanish association RFEF after a joint meeting with the association leaders Luis Rubiales and Kohzo Tashima on Thursday in Doha. The two umbrella organizations had already agreed to cooperate with a handshake in 2020, then the corona pandemic intervened.

Spain wants to promote its candidacy for the 2030 World Cup together with Portugal and Ukraine in the next few years in Asia. Spain and Japan are planning international matches at different levels and cooperation in women's football and refereeing. The two national teams meet on Thursday evening at the Khalifa International Stadium in the last matchday of Group E.

The fate of the German national team at the World Cup also depends on the clash between the two teams.

The Mexican federation has confirmed the separation from national coach Gerardo Martino after the early end of the World Cup. "His contract has expired. He knows that the negative environment and failure make it impossible for him to continue," said federation president Yon de Luisa. "We value him as a capable coach," said sporting director Jaime Ordiales. "But in football it's the results that count."

Martino had announced his departure after beating Saudi Arabia 2-1 in the decisive group game. The 60-year-old Argentinian's contract expired after the World Cup. Despite the victory, Mexico was eliminated in the preliminary round of a World Cup for the first time since 1978. “We were just one goal away from progressing. It's a defeat," said De Luisa. "We failed the fans and our country."

After Mexico's exit, Fifa is investigating the association because of fan misconduct. The Disciplinary Committee has launched an investigation into fans' chants during the 2-1 win over Saudi Arabia. The Mexican federation said Fifa was investigating possible homophobic calls from Mexican fans. However, their own supporters had behaved well throughout the tournament in Qatar. After Mexico's first World Cup game against Poland, Fifa launched an investigation into the same offence. According to the Mexican media, the association is now facing a tougher penalty for repeated incidents of this kind.

Qatar's national team has been eliminated from the World Cup without a hitch. The host loses all three of their games and has no chance in the games. The 0:2 against the Netherlands was the last appearance at the World Cup. Mesut Özil watched the defeat from the stands and thanked his host via Twitter two days after the game.

A few hours before the decisive appearance of the German national team against Costa Rica, Özil wrote: "Great to be in Qatar. Thanks for the great hospitality and the perfect organization - it's always a pleasure to be here. See you soon."

After the preliminary round at the 2018 World Cup, Özil resigned noisily from the national team and accused the DFB of racism, among other things. The starting point for the inglorious episodes for the association were the photos of Özil and Ilkay Gündogan with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

A number of fans of the German national team have had to let their World Cup tickets expire because they have problems with entry permits for Qatar. The German fan embassy is aware of around 30 cases, as spokesman Philipp Beitzel of the German Press Agency confirmed on Thursday morning when asked. Fans fear they will be left with all costs, including flights and hotels, if there is no quick solution. The portals "Spox" and "Goal" had previously reported about it.

"It's a big problem for the fans. It is unclear to us why this is the case. Is it for technical reasons? We cannot determine that," said Beitzel. At the same time he complained: "The information to the people who are affected is rather sparse."

Qatar paid travel expenses for dozens of German fans and expected positive social media posts in return. WELT reporter Steffen Schwarzkopf met these sponsored fans in Doha – and had things explained to them from their point of view.

Source: WORLD / Steffen Schwarzkopf

If you want to travel to Qatar, you need a valid Hayya card for the duration of the tournament. Some people are currently still missing confirmation for this, reported Beitzel. “We are trying to solve this with the German embassy. It's going to be difficult.” The German team's last group game against Costa Rica kicks off this Thursday at 8 p.m.

The number of TV viewers continues to rise during the World Cup, but remains below previous levels. The live broadcast of the game between Poland and Argentina on Wednesday evening was the most-watched game of the tournament without German participation and attracted 6.719 million viewers. ZDF thus achieved a market share of 25.1 percent. Telekom, which also transmitted, does not publish any figures.

Compared to previous World Cup tournaments, however, the interest of TV viewers remains low. At the same time as the World Cup in Russia four years ago, there had already been a few games without German participation with viewership of more than ten million.

Portugal coach Fernando Santos has left superstar Cristiano Ronaldo open in the final group game. "He will train. If he is physically well, he will play. The chance is 50:50, you will see that after the training session. But that also applies to all the other players, ”said Santos before the duel with South Korea on Friday (4 p.m. CET / ZDF and MagentaTV). Ronaldo had recently not taken part in team training and trained individually.

Brazil coach Tite opened his press conference on Thursday with a message to Pele. “The whole team wishes nothing but the best for Pelé, our greatest representative. May he get better soon," said the 61-year-old ahead of the Seleção's final preliminary round match against Cameroon.

Pelé (82) had previously been taken to the hospital in São Paulo again. According to his daughter, the medication of her father, who is suffering from cancer, is being adjusted in the clinic. Media had reported that doctors were concerned that the treatment would no longer respond to the tumors in various organs of his body.

After the preliminary round, Iran's state newspaper criticized head coach Carlos Queiroz. "Queiroz is a renowned coach but it seems he's better at the game of words," the article said. The newspaper judged that he did not meet expectations on the field. Recently there had also been a debate in the Iranian media about Queiroz' whereabouts as national coach with the Iranian national team. His contract ends with the World Cup.

In the World Cup game between Portugal and Uruguay, Mario Ferri rushed onto the pitch and waved a rainbow flag until stewards caught him. After appearing before the world public, Ferri was taken to a police station. The Italian spent a few hours in custody there until an unexpected guest freed him. That's how Ferri tells it.

"I wasn't in jail, I was in a police station with the Qatari police," Ferri explained on Spanish radio station OndaCero. Then Gianni Infantino suddenly appeared. "Infantino came at four in the morning and helped me out," Ferri said of the FIFA President's visit. “He helped me to avoid controversy about my message of peace. Then they released me. ”An indication that Infantino's main concern was to prevent further damage to the image of the host country.

Ferri also told of a short conversation with the powerful Fifa boss: "He said, 'You again, why, why, Qatar is so dangerous for you'." According to Ferri, they already know each other through the Italian's regular runabouts. The Italian was excluded from the remaining World Cup games, but says he does not have to fear any further consequences from the authorities.

The former Bundesliga star Grafite is very critical of the awarding of the World Cup to Qatar. “Qatar is not a country where football is lived. Like Germany or like Brazil. Qatar is very small,” said the 43-year-old, who works as a pundit for Brazilian broadcaster TV Globo during the World Cup. "Without the many guest workers who live here or without the fans who have traveled there, there would be no World Cup feeling at all. I really like my work here. But when I walk through the streets or to the stadium, I don't feel this World Cup.” Grafite was German champion in 2009 with VfL Wolfsburg, footballer of the year in Germany and top scorer in the Bundesliga. He also played in Qatar for a few months in 2015.

Bundesliga professional Borna Sosa from VfB Stuttgart does not mourn the missed change of federation to the German Football Association (DFB). “My first choice was Croatia. Luckily, things have moved in that direction. The best thing for me was playing for Croatia," said the left-back, who is a regular at the World Cup in Qatar with the runner-up world champion, the French sports newspaper "L'Équipe".

Sosa, whose mother was born in Germany, took on German citizenship in spring 2021. However, a change of association failed due to the statutes of the world association Fifa because at the age of 22 he had played an international match for the Croatian U21. "I wasn't called up for the Croatian team and since I was playing in Stuttgart, the club brought me closer to the German FA. My goal was and is to develop myself as a player," explained the 24-year-old, who later apologized for wanting to change.

Back home, Sosa has been branded a traitor for his actions on social media. "It's never easy, but I knew the truth. 90 percent of what was written in the media was wrong. Many people look for polemics. I've had difficult times, but everything is fine now. People see that I give everything for my country," added the defender.

Poland goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny has lost a bet against Lionel Messi in the final World Cup group tie with Argentina. After he hit the South American superstar in the head in a duel in the penalty area and the referee checked the scene on the instructions of the video assistant, he said to Messi: "I'll bet 100 euros that he won't give it." The referee decided according to the TV pictures, however, on penalties, so that Szczesny admitted after the final whistle: "I probably lost the bet against Messi."

Szczesny does not want to settle the betting debt. Messi has enough money, he said with a laugh. Incidentally, the goalkeeper of Juventus Turin had parried Messi's penalty. Although Poland still lost the game 0:2, they reached the round of 16 as group runners-up like Argentina. Szczesny was in a correspondingly good mood and even accepted a possible penalty from the world football association FIFA with a wink. "I don't know if that's allowed," he said of his bet with Messi. "I'll probably get a fine for that. But I don't care."

The former Bayern professional Bixente Lizarazu does not currently count the German national soccer team among the narrowest circle of title candidates at the World Cup in Qatar. "I'm having a hard time with Germany. Currently that is not enough. If they want to go far, they still have to improve a lot," said the 52-year-old Frenchman to the "t-online" portal before the last group game of the DFB selection against Costa Rica on Thursday (8 p.m.).

Indirectly, the 1998 World Champion spoke out in favor of using Niclas Füllkrug. “Abroad we are used to good German nines. Miroslav Klose, Mario Gomez - or just now Niclas Füllkrug. He brought in a lot of aggression against Spain and scored. That was great,” Lizarazu praised the Werder Bremen striker.

Even if the team of national coach Hansi Flick has to win the game against Costa Rica to have a chance of reaching the round of 16, Lizarazu expects the DFB selection to progress. “Costa Rica must not be a stumbling block for Germany. That's why I expect the DFB team at least in the round of 16. Then a competition of its own begins again,” he said.

Edson Álvarez and Luis Chávez shed tears in front of the television cameras after Mexico's first World Cup preliminary round elimination since 1978, and coach Gerardo Martino declared himself to be solely to blame a little later. "I take all responsibility for this failure," said the visibly disappointed Martino. Álvarez struggled for an explanation right after the 2-1 draw against Saudi Arabia, which was not enough to progress. "It's a hard blow, there are no words for it," said the midfielder. Only one goal would have been missing for a place in the round of 16. There Poland is now despite a 0:2 against Argentina.

The processing of the Mexican World Cup debacle must take place without coach Martino, who announced his departure. “I am the main person responsible for this frustration and disappointment. That makes me very sad," said the 60-year-old, whose contract is expiring. "We'll see how it goes and who has to leave the team," said Chávez. At least Guillermo Ochoa and Andres Guardado, who played their fifth World Cup in Qatar, should no longer be there in the future. "We leave sad but proud," Ochoa said.

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