Tuesday June 22, 2021
No arithmetic against Hungary
Injured miller gives a clear order
In the group showdown against Hungary, national coach Joachim Löw will have to improvise. The DFB-Elf are starting the game with a good starting position, and that should stay that way even after the final whistle. Thomas Müller could possibly sit on the bench despite major knee problems.
On his lap, Thomas Müller watched his teammates’ final training with a thickly bandaged knee suspiciously. The injured leader had already given his clear assignment for the group showdown against Hungary long ago. “We have to make sure that we get through on our own,” said Müller before the first competitive game against the Magyars since the “Miracle of Bern” in the 1954 World Cup triumph.
On Wednesday (9 p.m. / ZDF, MagentaTV and in the live ticker at ntv.de) Joachim Löw’s team is not yet about a trophy, but the first stage goal on the way to the final at Wembley should be reached when they move into the European Championship round of 16. The three-time European champion does not want to get involved in arithmetic games. “We want to steer the game as early as possible and decide,” said defense chief Mats Hummels, who is ready for action after a patellar tendon irritation.
A draw would be enough for a place in the knockout round, but with another three, the chance of winning the group and thus a supposedly easier opponent should be preserved. “Our goal is not to be third. We want to be first,” emphasized Marcel Halstenberg.
London, Seville or Budapest
In this case it would continue against a third party in Bucharest. Second, the DFB team will travel to London for a duel with England or the Czech Republic. As a third party you will face the world number one Belgium in Seville or the arch-rival Netherlands in Budapest.
But Löw wasted no thought on that on the bus ride to the venue on Tuesday afternoon. The national coach has to improvise due to the probable lack of commander Müller in the starting line-up. Leon Goretzka is available as the first alternative for his Bayern colleague. “I dare to play the role,” said the 26-year-old.
During the final training session in the Adi-Dassler Stadium, Löw took a very close look at Goretzka, while Müller jogged around the square with Lukas Klostermann (muscle injury) after his capsule injury in his knee. A conceivable scenario for the duel with the 37th in the world rankings: Müller is included in the squad so that he can intervene in an emergency.
New again with rainbow armband
It shouldn’t get that far after the gala against defending champions Portugal (4: 2), even if Löw warns. The game may be “even tougher because Hungary is lower and defends with eight or nine people”. Hummels warned of a “dangerous opponent” at MagentaTV, but: “We are aware of our role as favorites, we want to bring them onto the pitch. If we call up our level, then we are the better team.”
However, the Hungarians cannot only play defensively with their strong goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi from RB Leipzig. After the surprising point against world champions France (1: 1) they need a win to advance to the round of 16. Löw, who can also rely on İlkay Gündoğan (calf problems), does not want to follow the opponent. With the increased self-confidence, the DFB selection should push through their game philosophy again, no one wastes a thought on a possible preliminary round like the World Cup debacle in Russia.
“He is 100 percent convinced and radiates it in front of the team,” said Goretzka in the “Sportschau” interview about Löw and added: “That gives us a lot of self-confidence and faith in our plan.” Löw conveyed his victory plan to the team in individual and group discussions as well as during video analysis. The excitement about the rainbow-colored lighting of the arena, which was not approved by UEFA, is to be faded out. As in the first two group games, captain Manuel Neuer will wear his colorful armband and send a clear message.