National coach Loew opens new chapter

A new chapter opened for the German national team in Copenhagen, just one month after their brilliant performance at the 2010 FIFA World Cup™. The FIFA World Cup™ bronze medallists started the 2010-11 season with a 2-2 (1-0) draw with Denmark in a friendly on August 11. National coach Joachim Loew looked to the future when he sent out a completely new team, with just six of the 23 players who had been in South Africa. “We are facing a difficult task. It will be a long road for qualification for the European Championship”, Loew said. This road will begin with the first away match, against Belgium in Brussels on September 3, and the first home match against Azerbaijan in Cologne on September 7. Further opponents this year for the German national team, the 2008 European runners-up, in the qualification for the 2012 tournament are Turkey (October 8 in Berlin) and Kazakhstan (October 12 in Astana). A new move rules that these matches take place on Friday and Tuesday. That’s a concession by the European Football Association, UEFA, for the clubs so that players will rejoin them for league matches a day earlier than in the past.

 

The DFB team in Copenhagen: Schaefer, Kroos, Tasci, Boateng, Gomez, Hitzlsperger, Gentner (above, from left), Wiese, Traesch, Beck, Marin (below, from left). (Photo: GES/Augenklick)

“We are facing a competition lasting one-and-a-half years. We must now mentally leave the World Cup behind us. The match against the Danes was a bridge between the World Cup and the European Championship qualification”, said Loew, who tried out many players who had failed to make the squad for some time. Wolfsburg’s Sascha Riether made his debut. Thomas Hitzlsperger, who had been left out for South Africa, was the captain. Andreas Beck and Christian Traesch, who had trained with the World Cup squad but then dropped for the South African football festival, were also in the starting line-up, as were the six World Cup participants Tim Wiese, Jerome Boateng, Marko Marin, Toni Kroos, Serdar Tasci and Mario Gomez. Gomez, who had been unlucky in South Africa, scored one goal, with the second netted by Patrick Helmes, another player who did not play in South Africa. Though the Loew team conceded two goals in the final stages, the national coach was content. “I can take from this important insights into what is needed for the upcoming weeks”, disclosed the 50-year-old, who extended his contract until the end of June 2012 after lengthy negotiations at the end of July.

 

Tim Wiese produced a top performance, with just one mistake during the 2-2 draw with Denmark. Here he defends against Mads Junker. At the goalpost (right) Christian Traesch. (Photo: GES/Augenklick)

Loew must settle the captain and goalkeeper questions

 

The UEFA European Championship™ is included in the national coach’s schedule. “A completely new chapter will begin. All players must prove themselves again. Nobody can say they played well at the World Cup so will now be seeded for all time”, Loew said. He made do without the regular players because they had just started training with their clubs again after a short vacation. Loew will settle the question of the future goalkeeper prior to the match in Belgium. Manuel Neuer, substitute in Copenhagen, is no longer the automatic number one, despite his good World Cup performance, Loew emphasised. Wiese, too, has the perspective to become the regular goalkeeper, despite a big mistake to allow the Danes to 2-2 after some earlier excellent saves. And Leverkusen’s Rene Adler, who missed the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ due to injury, could also leapfrog Neuer again. Loew must also settle another precarious question: who will be the captain of the national team? Michael Ballack, who could soon return after recovering from his injury and his move from Chelsea to Leverkusen, witnessed competition in South Africa. Philipp Lahm, originally the temporary replacement for Ballack, definitely wants to remain captain.

 

When Michael Ballack (centre) visited the DFB quarters in South Africa everything was still harmonious between he, Philipp Lahm (left) and coach Joachim Loew (right). (Photo: GES/Augenklick)

After the first four European qualifiers in September and October, Loew has scheduled two friendly matches for the German Football Association, DFB, squad. Germany will meet Sweden in Gothenburg on November 17, then on February 9, 2011, they will play host to the “classic” encounter with Italy in Dortmund, where the semi-final of the 2006 FIFA World Cup™ between those two teams took place. The European Championship qualification will continue against Kazakhstan in Kaiserslautern on March 26, followed by a friendly (opponents not yet known) in Moenchengladbach on March 29, 2011. The end of the season will be difficult, with the European qualifiers in Austria on June 3 and Azerbaijan on June 7, as the Bundesliga season finishes three weeks earlier. The players who are not involved in the DFB Cup final or a European final must then be kept “in the mood” without matches.

 

DFB’s later international schedule:

 

Germany vs Brazil (friendly), August 10, 2011 in Stuttgart

Germany vs Austria (European qualifier), September 2, 2011 in Gelsenkirchen

Poland vs Germany (friendly), September 6, 2011 in Warsaw

Turkey vs Germany (European qualifier), October 7, 2011Germany vs Belgium (European qualifier), October 11, 2011, in Dusseldorf