World Cup 2018 Qualifying Campaign Index


Friday, 1 September 2017

Eden Arena, Prague
World Cup 2018 Group C Qualifier

"We won, and that's what counts, but we benefited from a lot of luck."

Czech Republic - Vladimir Darida 78'
Germany - Timo Werner 4', Mats Hummels 88'4

This Mats Hummels' jump proved a lot more popular with his management team, as a late header maintained Germany's 100% record in World Cup qualifying. Jogi, however, admitted that the team were fortunate to take all three points.

Late Mats Hummels header helps sluggish Germany maintain perfect record
Holders on brink of sealing World Cup place

Hummels extends World Champions' perfect record with late header
Boring Germany victorious late at Czech Republic

Germany didn't deserve to beat Czech Republic, laments Joachim Löw

"We definitely cannot be happy with the way we played tonight."
"Czech Republic defended well, but we also made things very difficult for ourselves.
"It felt like we had a lot of possession, but just couldn't break through their lines. We didn't create anything for the whole game and deserved a draw.
"I really wanted to bring lots of attackers on to the pitch. With six of them it meant we could make use of the space, but it also meant we were lacking defensively. We coughed the ball up far too much."
"The result was great. Our main aim was to get three points and that's what we did. We have to be honest though and today we needed a lot of luck and Mats Hummels' aerial prowess to win today. The Czechs defended well but we didn't play how we wanted to in the final third."

Löw: "Mats had a superb game" - from

Jogi singled out Mats Hummels for special praise, adding "Mats Hummels and other members of the squad who went to the World Cup in Rio have to be role models for the more recent additions to the squad. That's part of their job. Mats had a superb game. Not only because of his goal but he dealt with a lot of the questions being asked of the defence last night. I reckon he won every second ball and it was great to see."

Asked what he thought went wrong, he replied "It seemed like we had a lot of the ball but didn't create many clear cut chances with it. Because of our lack of ruthlessness, we left ourselves exposed at the back and open to Czech Republic counter attacks. In most of the World Cup qualifiers, the key is to get the ball forward and make our way towards the goal. When we do that like we did at the beginning of the game, we ran the Czech Republic to death but we couldn't keep it up."

On his decision to play only one holding midfielder: "I lined-up the side as I did for a reason. I wanted to play with two strikers and two number 10s as I knew that the Czech Republic would sit deep and play on the break. We wanted to get at them a bit more in the midfield and we didn't get in behind the Czech lines which was a problem we all had to deal with aside from Timo Werner who was the only one to get at the Czech Republic defence."

Speaking of Timo Werner's early first goal, he said "It was a great transition. Mats with a great interception, clever ball by Mesut Ozil and a good run by Timo. We started very brightly but the early lead didn't give us the confidence to create more." with thanks to Mercedes-Benz Fußball

Match highlights from

At a press conference in Stuttgart two days later, Jogi explained that on Friday he had explained he had gone straight back into the dressing room immediately after the match in Prague and had been unaware until he reached the dressing room of the disgusting behaviour of some German sections of the crowd. Jogi had clear words about those so-called fans: "We don't want hooligans like these. We're not the national team of these people and they're not our fans. It's utterly appalling. I believe hooligans should be given the harshest punishments available. I'm outraged about what happened and I'm annoyed that so-called fans use the stage of an international football match to embarrass our country and bring shame to it. As a team, we want to stand for particular values - for a tolerant, open-minded Germany."
More from the press conference can be found on my Norway match page - 3 September 2017.

Post-match interview on RTL

Post-match Press Conference

Starting Line-up:
Marc-André ter Stegen, Joshua Kimmich, Mats Hummels, Matthias Ginter, Toni Kroos, Julian Brandt (Antonio Rüdiger, Jonas Hector, Thomas M&uum;ller, Lars Stindl (Julian Draxler), Mesut Özil, Timo Werner (Emre Can)

Pre-match show on RTL

Training, Eden Arena Prague, 31 August 2017

Press Conference, Prague, 31 August 2017, with Mats Hummels

Looking relaxed and happy having just arrived in Prague, Joachim Löw took the stage for his first DFB press conference of the season.

Speaking of the qualification target ahead of them, he said "We had two main targets. We wanted to dominate the qualifying group from the start and to qualify as early as possible. And we wanted to bring in new, young players so that we could improve the depth of the squad and so have more possibilities in each position than last year. So far I think we've achieved both of those goals. In the Confederations Cup, we learnt a lot about the strengths and weaknesses of our squad. We are now in a situation, at the start of the season, where some of the players have returned but not all of them have featured a lot for their club sides. It's not easy to solve that and get everyone up to speed in just a few days. We'll have to try and keep a clean slate for October and November."

Of his Czech Republic opponents, he declared they were without doubt the best team on paper in the group:

Germany out to keep perfect World Cup qualifying record intact

"The Czechs are our strongest opponents in the group, they have their backs to the wall and have good players in their squad. That says everything about the situation," he said.
"They're going to have to do something because they've got to catch up. They've got their backs to the wall and they're going to try their best to get at least a point against us. They've always played well at tournaments and produced good players in the last 20 years. We have a lot of respect for the team."

There were several confirmed members of the starting line-up for the match tomorrow. Marc-André Ter Stegen will be in goal.Jonas Hector, Joshua Kimmich, Mesut Özil, Mats Hummels, Toni Kroos and Thomas Müller will also start. "Timo Werner could start up front but we'll decide after training. It could be the case that our line-up to face Norway is quite different to the one that plays against the Czech Republic. Also, the players who played in the Confederations Cup might be in need of some rest but we'll have to see after the first qualifier. We tend to be a team who have a lot more possession than our opposition."

On the striker situation, he explained "I want to avoid having an order as we have very different types of players. Timo Werner is someone who performs better when he has someone to play off. Mario Gomez and Sandro Wagner are both these kind of striker and Wagner was excellent at the Confederations Cup. Stindl is the kind of player who gets in between the lines and Thomas Müller is someone who goes in between midfield and attack. I'm glad we have different types of players available to us."

Löw: "No-one is an automatic pick for the World Cup"

Joachim Löw was adamant that no player would have a free ride into the World Cup next year. "No-one just gets picked automatically for the World Cup next year. Every player knows they have to put in good performances to be on the plane. Everyone has to think about: What do I have to do? What goals do I have? What can I do to improve and do so that I can be on form at the right time? That is what I expect of the players. If we can't do that then it'll be hard for us at the World Cup. Other countries also have great teams. What has happened in the past doesn't count for anything in football. Everyone knows they've got to be ready for a big test next year. The pool of players available is now even bigger because of the Confederations Cup success. But the decision on the final 23 isn't going to be made today. Every player knows exactly what they need to do."

Apart from being the international break, the day of the press conference also marked Transfer Deadline Day in Europe, and a couple of Jogi's players received a specific mention:

Löw 'cannot see' Draxler completing Arsenal Deadline Day move

"I chatted briefly with Julian yesterday and I cannot see one of our players moving today," he told the media.
"Julian felt really good in Paris until now. He has developed really well and you could see that in Russia this summer."
"He started great in France and scored goals. Now they've made two big signings and Neymar occupies the position he had," he continued.
"Julian can play on the right and in the middle. He is versatile and has the self-confidence to come out on top."
He also said he was delighted with Benedikt Höwedes move to Juventus. "I think that Juventus are a club who achieved a lot in Europe and are regularly favourites for the Italian title. Benni has always been a solid, reliable player who does a job for the team. If he plays at Juventus, Höwedes will be of note to us as I know what he's capable of."

Khedira to miss game against the Czech Republic with knee problem - 30 August 2017
Sami Khedira will miss the international friendly against Czech Republic on 1st September in Prague due to a persistent knee problem. Despite this, the Juventus midfielder will stay with the Germany squad for further treatment with a view to returning for the World Cup qualifier on 4th September against Norway. He will stay at the training camp to be treated on in Stuttgart in the next few days.

Training, Robert-Schlienz-Stadion, Stuttgart, 30 August 2017

Vormittagstraining in Stuttgart

Serge Gnabry withdrawn from DFB squad - 30 August 2017
The TSG 1899 Hoffenheim forward has been unable to train due to a capsule ligament injury in the upper ankle joint of his left foot and departed the team hotel in Stuttgart on Tuesday evening.

Loew calls for Germany to secure World Cup berth with a swagger

"We want to qualify for the World Cup as group winners as quickly as possible," he said ahead of Friday's trip to the Czech Republic and Monday's home tie with Norway. Therefore, our sole aim for the two games is to win them both."
"Until now we have a clean record in qualifying, we have won every game," Loew said. "We can now qualify for the finals early, depending on the situation."
"We go into the games on the attack and with enough self-confidence," Loew said.
No less than 17 members of the triumphant squad from Russia have retained their places in the pool but Loew was anxious to keep expectations low.
"The young players who won the Confederations Cup are not yet at the world class level you need to win the World Cup," he said.

Training, Stuttgart, 29 August 2017

Erstes Training in Stuttgart - from

Paris Saint-Germain don't want to sell Julian Draxler - Joachim Low

"I know for a fact that Paris don't want to sell him," Germany boss Löw told reporters. "They are convinced of his outstanding qualities."
"He made such a big step forward there," Low said. "I am convinced that he will come out on top at Paris. By now, he's already playing a big role for us."
The fight to make Joachim Löw's squad for the 2018 World Cup starts now
"I expect that there to be the toughest competition we have ever had," said Löw, who has called up 17 members of the squad that won the Confederations Cup in July and only seven members of the team that won the World Cup in 2014.
"For as long as I have been here, the competition has never been so great," said Löw, who took over the head coaching job from Jürgen Klinsmann in 2006. "Potential or talent or performances up until now are no guarantees of a free ride... Therefore the established players all know: they have to always go to their limits to remain in the team."
"The thing I am most concerned about at this point is the mental attitude," he said, stressing that the only players getting on the plane to Russia in 10 months' time, would be those who had proven to him that the were truly committed to the goal of repeating as World Cup champions.
At the same time, Löw had encouraging words for the frustrated national team veteran Thomas Müller who was being left fuming on Bayern Munich's bench on the weekend.
"He is an incredibly positive factor in our team, he's a leader, and I know how he always performs when he is with us," Löw said of the player.
Löw ruft "härtesten Konkurrenzkampf" aus - 29 August 2017

Joachim Löw: "Den VfB nie aus den Augen verloren" - an in-depth interview with Jogi in the Stuttgarter Nachrichten. - 28 August 2017
Jogi discusses having an enjoyable rest from football over the summer, his mixed feelings over the Neymar transfer, the conflict between fans and the authorities in Germany, the way to the 2018 World Cup, the whistles against Timo Werner and his special relationship with his former club Stuttgart, and the presence of so many of their former players in his current squad.

'Not worth risking' Manuel Neuer, says Löw

"Like Jerome Boateng, he's not 100 percent. Maybe he can take advantage of the next two weeks," Löw told magazine Kicker on Monday with Neuer expected to work on his fitness.
"It would be fatal to put him at risk now."
Interview mit Jogi Löw vor den Länderspielen - a video from - 25 August 2017

17 Confedations Cup players in Germany's squad for World Cup qualifiers

Manuel Neuer has been left out of a strong 24-man squad for Germany's World Cup qualifiers

"As much as we were happy about the success in the summer, for the moment the titles of the past do not count for me," Low said."We know what to expect from these players and they know we have great competition [for places]."We want to qualify quickly for the World Cup as group winners, so our goal for the two games can only be to win them."
Germany captain Manuel Neuer left out of squad for World Cup qualifiers
"So early in the season players have not yet found their rhythm, so therefore one or other is missing, for example our captain Manuel Neuer, with whom we discussed that he will first build up more match practice at Bayern Munich."
"In Prague, it's all or nothing for the Czech Republic", said Löw. "They need to win against us to have any chance of qualifying for the World Cup so they're going to ask a lot of us. Also, their squad has lots of international experience." - from

The full squad is as follows:
Goalkeepers: Bernd Leno (Bayer Leverkusen), Marc-André ter Stegen (Barcelona),Kevin Trapp (Paris St Germain)
Defenders: Matthias Ginter (Borussia Mönchengladbach), Jonas Hector (Köln), Benjamin Henrichs (Bayer 04 Leverkusen), Mats Hummels, Joshua Kimmich, Niklas Süle (all Bayern München), Antonio Rüdiger (Chelsea)
Midfield/Forwards:Julian Brandt (Bayer Leverkusen), Emre Can (Liverpool), Julian Draxler (Paris Saint-Germain), Serge Gnabry (Hoffenheim), Mario Gomez (Wolfsburg), Leon Goretzka (Schalke), Sami Khedira (Juventus), Toni Kroos (Real Madrid), Thomas Müller, Sebastian Rudy (both Bayern München), Mesut Özil (Arsenal), Lars Stindl (Borussia Mönchengladbach), Timo Werner (RB Leipzig), Amin Younes (Ajax Amsterdam)

Last updated 3 September 2017
With thanks to everyone especially Lucille, Silke, Susanne and Sarah.
Anything else you think I should include on this page? Let me know!