For many German fans, the pain of this summer’s World Cup is still fresh, the wounds still raw. It may take a while longer to truly start the recovery process. Football continues, however, and the new season starts with a game as tough as you could possibly find. The new-fangled UEFA Nations League sees the Nationalmannschaft are on home soil in Munich, against the team that replaced them as world champions, France.
After that, there is a somewhat less taxing meeting with Peru, who like Germany exited the World Cup in the group stages.
After the disappointing group phase exit in Russia, Germany have plummeted to 15th in the FIFA World rankings, the lowest they have ever been under Jogi Löw. It will take some work to climb back up, and a competitive match with the new world champions should be the perfect opportunity to kick-start the recovery.
Next week’s meeting with France in Munich’s Allianz Arena will be the 30th between the two nations, with Les Bleus holding the better record. Germany have won on ten occasions – including the famous penalty shootout in the World Cup in Spain in 1982, the French thirteen times, with six draws.
The last meeting was a friendly in November 2017 in Köln, which saw the Germans score a last-gasp equaliser to secure a fortunate 2-2 draw. André Lacazette’s first-half opener for France was levelled in the second half by Timo Werner, but when the Lacazette scored it second it looked as through the French would be going home with another win on German soil. The Nationalmannschaft were saved by Lars Stindl, who scored in the third minute of additional time.
In stark contrast, we have to go back 48 years to find Germany’s one and only previous meeting with Peru. The two countries had met in the World Cup finals in Mexico, with Gerd Müller giving Helmut Schön’s side a 3-1 win over the South Americans.
Like Germany, Peru were also eliminated in the group phase in Russia, and will be up for the challenge in Sinsheim’s Rhein-Neckar Arena, the home of TSG 1899 Hoffenheim.
The summer has been all about the controversy surrounding Mesut Özil, and the German coach would naturally touch on this during his latest press conference. Changes had been expected in the squad for the two upcoming fixtures, and there are some notable recalls as well as three new faces in the 23-man Kader.
Dropped from the rump squad prior to the World Cup, Manchester City winger Leroy Sané is back in the mix, as is SC Frieburg striker Nils Petersen and Bayer Leverkusen defender Jonathan Tah. Özil may have turned his back on the team, but nearly all of the old guard are there. The one notable exception is Sami Khedira.
Three new faces
Two of the three new faces have been on the pundit radar for a while, but the third is something of a surprise.
Bayer Leverkusen midfielder Kai Havertz has been seen as an international prospect for some time, having made his debut for Die Werkself as a seventeen year old. Still only nineteen, he has starred for Germany at youth level, netting six goals in just five appearances for the Under-19 side. Despite his tender years, Havertz is already an established and seasoned professional with over 50 top-level appearances for his club.
21 year old Thilo Kehrer is another who has developed nicely in the German youth system, and put himself on the map following a great 2017/18 season for Schalke 04. One could say that last season was more than just a breakthrough year for the Tübingen-born defender, resulting in his being signed by moneybags Paris St. Germain for 37 million Euro.
The third new boy is 25 year old Nico Schulz, who must have thought that his chance to play for Germany had gone. The Berlin-born defender had made a name for himself with local club Hertha, while graduating through the German youth ranks. A move to Borussia Mönchengladbach should have been a major step up, but instead resulted in two lost seasons where he made only thirteen appearances.
A transfer to Hoffenheim has clearly worked well for Schulz, who will be hoping to be on the pitch for Germany on his home ground in Sinsheim.
Manuel Neuer (FC Bayern München, 79/0)
Marc-André ter Stegen (FC Barcelona, 20/0)
Jérôme Boateng (FC Bayern München, 73/1)
Matthias Ginter (Borussia Mönchengladbach, 18/0)
Jonas Hector (1. FC Köln , 40/3)
Mats Hummels (FC Bayern München, 66/5)
Thilo Kehrer (Paris Saint-Germain, 0/0)
Joshua Kimmich (FC Bayern München, 32/3)
Antonio Rüdiger (Chelsea FC, 25/1)
Nico Schulz (TSG 1899 Hoffenheim, 0/0)
Niklas Süle (FC Bayern München, 12/0)
Jonathan Tah (Bayer 04 Leverkusen, 3/0)
Julian Brandt (Bayer 04 Leverkusen, 19/1)
Julian Draxler (Paris Saint-Germain, 46/6)
Leon Goretzka (FC Bayern München, 16/6)
İlkay Gündoğan (Manchester City, 27/4)
Kai Havertz (Bayer 04 Leverkusen, 0/0)
Toni Kroos (Real Madrid CF, 86/13)
Thomas Müller (FC Bayern München, 94/38)
Nils Petersen (SC Freiburg, 1/0)
Marco Reus (BV 09 Borussia Dortmund, 34/10)
Leroy Sané (Manchester City, 12/0)
Timo Werner (RB Leipzig, 17/8)
There are plenty of other things to talk about, not least Jogi Löw’s comments on the Özil affair and Thomas Schneider losing his position as assistant coach and a look at the latest revelations about the split between the squad during the World Cup. This will follow as we continue to build up to next week’s internationals.