Wednesday, October 06, 2021
Lots of space for space at the DFB
The bearer of hope that nobody knows
By Tobias Nordmann
Germany lacks a real striker, but national coach Hansi Flick doesn’t really have any problems on the offensive. It looks different on the defensive. The situation is more tense there. This is an excellent opportunity for two talents to prove themselves.
For David Raum, things could actually go pretty stupid for the next few hours or days. Because the TSG Hoffenheim footballer may have to do things that he obviously doesn’t like to do at all. He may have to sing a song. You usually have to do that when you’ve played for Germany’s senior team. And that is exactly what Raum had done. A few weeks ago, when national coach Hansi Flick’s team faced Armenia in qualifying for the World Cup. In the 83rd minute, room for Thilo Kehrer was substituted.
Nico Schlotterbeck can still be without any worries about a musical interlude. Like Raum, the defender of SC Freiburg has been nominated for the second time, but he has not yet been used. That could and should change. Because the central defender would like to prove himself and show that he is a good option. Especially with a view to the World Cup in 2022. And even if many people might think “keep dreaming, boy”, Schlotterbeck could go to Qatar next year. Because the 21-year-old has not only played a phenomenal season in the sensational team from Freiburg, but is also a polyvalent footballer.
That’s a pretty stupid word. But right now in fashion. When market constraints no longer allow all teams to have double occupancy in all positions, then it is just a good thing if there are players who can take on multiple roles. And that without great loss of quality and without great adjustment problems. Jonas Hofmann is one of those too. The actually offensive midfielder is busy applying for the position in the back right. A problem area in the German team. Also because Joshua Kimmich is irrevocably placed in the midfield center. Another problem area is in the back left.
There Robin Gosens was considered a man of choice and a man of hope. But the 27-year-old, who has just become a dad for the first time, was seriously injured in the Champions League a few days ago. The Atalanta Bergamo player left the pitch in tears. It is apparently canceled at least until the end of the year. Because Marcel Halstenberg from RB Leipzig has been injured for a while, the situation is pretty thin. Good for space. And possibly for Schlotterbeck too. The left side is certified as one of several polyvalences. And offers an opportunity. Because everything is tight in the center. The formally strong Antonio Rüdiger and Niklas Süle are clearly set. Mats Hummels would also be if he were fit. Robin Koch is still lurking and even Jérôme Boateng knows after a conversation with Flick that he is still a candidate.
Polite but unequivocally
Currently, however, the man from Hoffenheim is likely to be the first candidate for a mission on the left. And with Romania waiting on Friday evening (8.45 p.m. on RTL in the live ticker on ntv.de) a very solid opponent. Not exactly the toughest task in world football, but definitely a team that can demand something from you. This is definitely suitable as an application for higher tasks in the future. But Raum also knows: the jump from the U21 player, who together with Schlotterbeck became European champion in the summer, to the big boys is significant. “There is a different quality in training,” he admits in his first media round for the DFB team.
Raum and Schlotterbeck sit together on the podium. And they agree on everything: You are here now and want to stay that way. You say it discreetly and politely, but unequivocally. They pretend to be apprentices, but do not stranger. Because they also know what they can do.
While things are already going well for Schlotterbeck in the Bundesliga, Raum is still fighting for the form that made him one of the best second division players last season. At that time he was still under contract with promoted Greuther Fürth, he was a sensation on the wing and prepared an outstanding 15 goals. It’s not going that way in Hoffenheim yet, partly because TSG doesn’t want to be stable yet. Unlike the national team. It caught itself surprisingly quickly under Hansi Flick. The first course with three games sparked a gentle euphoria. And the coach is already on the way to creating a lightning giant, just as he once did at FC Bayern when he turned a starving and insecure team into an omnivorous title monster within ten months. The task and time window are comparable for Flick.
But what does Joachim Löw’s former assistant coach actually do differently from his former boss, who snuck out of office in the summer and is to be officially adopted at the international match in Wolfsburg in November? Well, Oliver Bierhoff, who is responsible for the coach’s transition, doesn’t know exactly himself. It is also very difficult to compare them in detail. But what Bierhoff knows and praises the “clear philosophy”. It can also be found in the system. Especially on the defensive. Back four is the clear message. Experiments? Only personnel. Means: Opportunities for the polyvalent Schlotterbeck and plenty of space for space. Even on the vocal stage.