In order to win back the hearts, we went to the outdoor pool under cloudy skies. The German national soccer team has lost sympathy with three weak tournaments in a row and partly exaggerated marketing in recent years, many hardly feel a connection to the team anymore.
That's why Hansi Flick started the first international week of the year on Monday afternoon with a public training session in the Frankfurt stadium at Brentanobad, not far from a 220-metre-long swimming pool that is marketed as "Frankfurt's Mediterranean Sea in Rödelheim". Tickets for the unit were free, and several thousand spectators attended.
For the first time since the desolate World Cup preliminary round in Qatar last December, the national coach has his team around him. On Sunday evening, his eleven met at the Hotel Melia and in the coming days they are preparing for the first international matches of the year on the campus of the German Football Association (DFB): Saturday (8.45 p.m., ZDF) Germany meets Peru in Mainz, on Tuesday next week in Cologne on Belgium (8.45 p.m., RTL). It's supposed to be a kind of reboot.
Flick's team is qualified to host the 2024 European Championship. There are no competitive games this year. And yet there is a lot at stake. For Flick. And German football. A home tournament is a historic opportunity. Until then, a spirit of optimism should be created. But how is that supposed to work with a team that rarely convinced in the months before the World Cup, which was embarrassing from a German point of view? Flick is in focus. There is little time: The EM begins on June 14, 2024.
Flick gave a press conference on Monday afternoon. He sat with Völler and U21 national coach Antonio Di Salvo on the podium on the DFB campus. Völler described this as "symbolic". The message from those responsible: we have to move closer together and rely on the next generation. The interlocking of the A national team and the talents from the teams below is central. And should ensure better results.
Völler recalled his time in the U21s, in 1982 he lost the European Championship final in Sheffield against England with Germany, the coach was Berti Vogts. "I'm a child of the U21s," says Völler. In the afternoon he spoke to the team. Here, too, with a clear message: the 62-year-old showed the players "the importance of this European Championship and how beautiful and lucky a tournament like this is in your own country." Everyone has the chance to jump on the European Championship train.
Flick and Völler want to sharpen the senses of the players. Above all, they require passion, dedication and will. In this regard, at the World Cup, Völler emphasized that they had a few percent less than title winners Argentina and semi-finalists Morocco. For the first time, the U21s are training with the senior national team on campus this week. A dinner of the selections is planned for Tuesday evening.
Jamal Musiala will be absent. The 20-year-old offensive star from FC Bayern had to leave the team quarters because of a torn muscle fiber. Again Flick cannot let him play with young star Florian Wirtz from Bayer Leverkusen. "It's a shame for everyone that Jamal is missing," said the 58-year-old.
Flick relies on four returnees and six newcomers for the first international training course of the year. He recalled Wirtz, Bernd Leno (FC Fulham), Emre Can (Borussia Dortmund) and Timo Werner (RB Leipzig), who had recently been absent for various reasons, back into his squad. The U21 European champions Josha Vagnoman from VfB Stuttgart and Mergim Berisha from FC Augsburg, Marius Wolf from Borussia Dortmund, Felix Nmecha from VfL Wolfsburg and Kevin Schade from FC Brentford from the Premier League have been nominated for the first time. Flick also called up central defender Malick Thiaw from AC Milan at short notice because defender Armel Bella Kotchap from FC Southampton injured his shoulder. Flick's plan: All newcomers should debut in the two games.
The coach is currently without Thomas Müller and Leroy Sané from FC Bayern, BVB professional Niklas Süle, Ilkay Gündogan from Manchester City and Antonio Rüdiger from Real Madrid. Dortmund's Mats Hummels and Marco Reus apparently play no role in his current EM plans. "When I see Dortmund, I'm most sorry that Julian Brandt isn't there," said Flick. "We're happy with the squad." If he hadn't done anything new with this nomination after the World Cup, there would have been criticism, says Flick. “We will prepare well. I'm convinced that we'll present ourselves well.” He and his team have a responsibility.