After the wins against Belarus and Estonia at the end of last season, Joachim Löw’s Nationalmannschaft start 2019/20 in a strong position as they look to secure automatic qualification for next summer’s European Championships. A win in Hamburg against the dangerous Netherlands and in Belfast early group pace-setters Northern Ireland will put one massive German foot in the door.
After last season’s dismal showing in the Europa Nations League, Germany’s last-gasp 3-2 win against the Dutch in their opening qualifier was a pleasant surprise. Löw’s charges will have to be on their guard at the Volksparkstadion, knowing that a win will put some serious daylight between them and their neighbours and old rivals.
Northern Ireland have been another popular opponent over the years, and the Ulstermen have got their campaign off to a fine start with four wins from their opening four matches. While Michael O’Neill’s side have yet to play any of the group’s stronger sides, they will be full of confidence as they take on the Germans in front of their home crowd at Windsor Park.
The encounter in Hamburg is Germany’s fourth meeting against the Netherlands in the last two seasons, and their 44th in all. With sixteen wins, the same number of draws and eleven defeats, the Nationalmannschaft have the better record in what has been a long and celebrated rivalry.
The Germans have played seventeen matches against Northern Ireland, with eleven wins, four draws and two defeats – both of which came in the Euro 1984 campaign. The last meeting between the two countries took place in qualifying for the recent World Cup, which saw Löw’s men ease to a 3-1 win in Belfast.
There are a couple of changes to the 22-man squad from that named at the end of last season. FC Barcelona’s Marc-André ter Stegen replaces Kevin Trapp as one of the three goalkeepers, while the seven named defenders were all in the previous squad. The one missing name is PSG’s Thilo Kehrer, who is out injured.
Among the midfielders and forwards, Kehrer’s club mate Julian Draxler will have to wait for his fiftieth cap, while Manchester City winger Leroy Sané is also out after his injury in the recent FA Charity Shield. Juventus man Emre Can makes his way back into the international reckoning, while the experienced Toni Kroos returns to the fold.
The biggest surprise however is SC Freiburg striker Luca Waldschmidt, who crowns his astonishing recent ascent with his first international call up. It is a logical step up for the 23-year-old, who has scored ten goals in fifteen appearances for the Under-21s.
Waldschmidt is one of two uncapped players in the squad, joining Hertha BSC defender Niklas Stark, who will be looking to get on the pitch after sitting on the bench against Belarus and Estonia.
Bernd Leno (Arsenal FC, 6/0)
Manuel Neuer (FC Bayern München, 88/0)
Marc-André ter Stegen (FC Barcelona, 22/0)
Matthias Ginter (Borussia Mönchengladbach, 26/0)
Marcel Halstenberg (RB Leipzig, 3/0)
Lukas Klostermann (RB Leipzig, 2/0)
Nico Schulz (BV 09 Borussia Dortmund, 8/2)
Niklas Stark (Hertha BSC, 0/0)
Niklas Süle (FC Bayern München, 20/1)
Jonathan Tah (Bayer 04 Leverkusen, 6/0)
Julian Brandt (BV 09 Borussia Dortmund, 25/2)
Emre Can (Juventus Turin, 21/1)
Serge Gnabry (FC Bayern München, 8/7)
Leon Goretzka (FC Bayern München, 23/8)
İlkay Gündoğan (Manchester City, 33/5)
Kai Havertz (Bayer 04 Leverkusen, 3/0)
Jonas Hector (1. FC Köln, 42/3)
Joshua Kimmich (FC Bayern München, 42/3)
Toni Kroos (Real Madrid CF, 92/14)
Marco Reus (BV 09 Borussia Dortmund, 41/13)
Luca Waldschmidt (SC Freiburg, 0/0)
Timo Werner (RB Leipzig, 25/10)