World Cup 2018 Qualifying Campaign Index


Thursday, 5 October 2017

Windsor Park, Belfast
World Cup 2018 Group C Qualifier

"We had the game under control and kept the Northern Irish attacking play in check."

Northern Ireland - Josh Magennis 90+3'
Germany - Sebastian Rudy 2', Sandro Wagner 21', Joshua Kimmich 86'

After a superb early strike from Sebastian Rudy, qualification for Germany was never in doubt, as they now make it nine wins from nine.

"It's very positive. Our goal was to dominate the group from the start and not drop any points. We were successful in that and have a very good goal difference. We can be satisfied with the qualifying period. Well done to the team."

Germany reach 19th World Cup finals with Northern Ireland win

Germany book their Russia 2018 ticket as Northern Ireland fall a little flat
Germany seal qualification with 3-1 win in Belfast

"We're pleased with the result, even if it was a tricky match. Northern Ireland were focusing heavily on defence, so it was important for us to score a goal early on. Of course, it played into our hands that we scored a second soon after. We controlled the game after that and stayed alert until the end. Rudy's goal was simply spectacular; they don't come much better than that. The keeper had no chance. The second half wasn't quite as exciting as the first, but that's to be expected when you're controlling the match. We defended well against Northern Ireland's long balls and we didn't commit fouls. That was really important."

Löw 'satisfied' as Germany secure World Cup spot

""I am satisfied," Löw told reporters afterwards in Belfast.
"We doubled the lead very quickly. In the Czech Republic we took the lead early too but then lost control. That did not happen today.
"We felt on the pitch that we had everything under control in the second half. That's when we slowed down a little bit."
Germany boss Joachim Low had spoken about frailties of his country's club football but his side showed barely any weakness...
"When the draw was made we wanted to dominate the group, make no compromises and possibly not drop any points, which we managed to do with a neat goal average,' said Low. 'Having qualified and beaten Northern Ireland on home turf, there's every reason to be satisfied.
Northern Ireland could beat anyone in the play-offs, says Germany boss Löw - from the Belfast Telegraph
"Northern Ireland have a population of just under 2,000,000 and they were absolutely competitive in our group," Löw noted.
"There has been hardly any gap (in the group) between them and us.
"Of course it will be tremendously difficult to beat a team like Portugal or Italy over two games but they can do it."
Jogi was asked if he intended to allow the squad a small celebration and hit the Belfast pubs afterwards. He replied "That wouldn't be professional. We're playing in Kaiserslautern on Sunday in front of 30,000 fans and we want to win that, too. Ten wins with our current goal difference would be out most successful qualifying stage ever, so we will definitely have a little celebration within the team, but nothing too big."

And what remains to be done before the World Cup: "Our last qualifier of course and then two tough tests against England and France in November. After that, Spain and Brazil. We'll use all of these matches to develop our players and give the whole team opportunities to show what they can do. There are lots of things to work on in the next months. This is a decisive period for us."

Talking of the full-back and striker positions "We don't have many full-backs who play regularly on an international level. Joshua Kimmich is the only one in fact, so we need to help the others mature. We've got a few options up front but when you think of Argentina with Higuain, Agüero, Messi, di Maria, Dybala... there's clearly work to be done."

Player ratings from

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Post-match interview on RTL - with congratulations from an old friend!

Post-match press conference

Starting Line-Up:
Marc-André ter Stegen, Joshua Kimmich, Jérôme Boateng, Mats Hummels, Marvin Plattenhardt, Toni Kroos, Sebastian Rudy, Leon Goretzka (Emre Can), Thomas Müller (Lars Stindl), Julian Draxler (Leroy Sané), Sandro Wagner

A wet Windsor Park, Belfast, 4 October 2017

Press Conference, Belfast, 4 October 2017, with Mats Hummels

One hour after the squad arrived at the George Best Airport, Mats Hummels was first up at the DFB press conference and spoke of his love for the atmosphere Northern Ireland bring to their football. Joachim Löw was next up, calling the match one with the air of a final - the first place in the group playing the second.

We can't wait to face Northern Ireland and the GAWA in their fortress, say German duo

Boss Löw was just as full of praise for NI: "They play very disciplined football and have kept seven clean sheets. That speaks volumes," he said. "Northern Ireland have nothing to lose. We are looking forward to a fantastic atmosphere and a buoyant crowd."
The press conference then moved away from the national team directly as, inevitably, Jogi was asked questions about both Bayern Munich and German clubs' disappointing showing in Europe.

Asked whether he felt it was necessary for the German team to restore their country's reputation, all six clubs having lost in Europe the week prior, he said what he felt the national team had to do is what they have always done and that is to represent German football as best they can and to always be striving for improvements in the fields where weaknesses have been indentified. This is the best way to prepare for the World Cup and achieve the task of providing people back home with the enjoyment of what German football is all about.

As to the crisis at Bayern Munich and the sacking of Carlo Ancelotti, he can see no visible effect mentally or physically on the players involved. He has a good sense of feeling of what the mood is among players when they arrive and did not detect any tension in the Bayern Munich players. He talked to them on the phone before the game. Jerome Boateng is happy to be back in contention, he is absolutely relaxed and players like him, Thomas Müller and Mats Hummels have been at top clubs long enough for it not to be the first time they have gone through a club crisis. It has no effect on their sporting performance, most players with the team have been there long enough to be conversant with the match plan and what coaches want from them.

Joachim Löw alarmed by Bundesliga clubs' poor showing in Europe

"The weak performances of German clubs in Europe is hopefully just a momentary blip but it is alarming," the Germany manager said. "It is too early to say whether it is a general trend. Bayern and Dortmund have every chance to progress in the Champions League and it is the same for the Europa League teams.
"But for a while now I, and my coaches, have been thinking about how to improve things in the Bundesliga and that it's wrong to praise the Bundesliga to the high heavens or say only the Bundesliga produces the best talent. That would be untrue and people who say this have been humbled by this recent experience. We have to recognise this. We know this from sending scouts to other countries including South America. We know there is talent all around the world and the Bundesliga isn't the be-all and end-all."
Jogi added that now is not the time to talk about this, and his intention is to fully concentrate on the next two games.

On the preparation for this game: "Today we just did one training session, as here we can't really make any big tactical changes. The majority of the team, however, knows what our goal is, regardless of whether we do one or two training sessions, even though I would, of course, prefer to have more time to work with the team. Everyone's motivated. We just need to stay very alert and play our game in order to get a result."

The next question was on Leroy Sane, who Jogi says is turning into a very efficient player and has matured a lot especially in the very physical environment of the English Premier League. "I was in Manchester the other week and saw him in the game against Crystal Palace. He played very well and has developed so much. I think he has matured in the last year at City and he has come on leaps and bounds from being surrounded by the robust competition in the Premier League on a regular basis. He has enormous potential, so much pace and can make the difference in a one-on-one situation. He was new to us at the Euros last year and got a taste of what it was like. It was such a shame he missed out on the Confed Cup. He is in great form right now. When he continues to develop at this pace then he will make a lot of us very happy."

Asked about the unacceptable behaviour of some elements of their supporters in Prague, for which the DFB have been fined, and whether this will have a negative effect on the team, Jogi said the incidents were highly regrettable and only hoped that those responsible would be caught. However, he pointed out that the team benefitted from the positivity shown in Stuttgart in the match against Norway, where they played fantastic football cheered on by 50,000 fair-minded fans giving the same positivity as Northern Ireland gets from tehir supporters. He said the Northern Ireland fans support their team no matter what and this is a special thing for British football which has different values and often cheers at times when German fans would not do so.

He praised Michael O'Neill and said that Northern Ireland were the positive surprise of the Euros and that in the recent qualifying campaign, you only keep seven clean sheets if you know what you are doing. There are few teams in the world that can switch so efficiently between man and zonal marking, and in terms of organisation, discipline, strength in tackling, they play to their strengths. Team mates coach each other on the pitch, and this adds to their good performances.

On the absence of Timo Werner and Mario Gomez, Jogi said that, as in the past, they have many other players at their disposal - wingers, attacking midfielders, that can create dangerous situations and project danger in front of the opposition's goal. Their main weakness at the Euros was creating opportunities without scoring, being weak in finishing, but this had now been rectified. He pointed to the thirty goals they have scored in qualifying, with many different names on the scoresheet. They have to go on creating opportunities and will score sooner or later.

Jerome Boateng set to return for Germany's 'cup final' against Northern Ireland

"Jerome has signaled that he feels good after his long injury lay-off," added coach Löw. "We have to be careful not to over-burden him but I certainly envisage that he'll start."

And with main strikers Mario Gomez and Timo Werner absent through injury, the responsibility of breaking through the stubborn Northern Irish defense is likely to fall to Borussia Mönchengladbach's Lars Stindl and Hoffenheim's Sandro Wagner.
"Both are an option and I might even play them both together up front," revealed Löw. "But we are dangerous in attack whoever plays. We've got sharper in front of goal, too."

Talking of Marvin Plattenhardt replacing the injured Jonas Hector, he said he would not single him out among the players who featured in the Confederations Cup, but said there were many who showed their worth and that they were capable of are able and willing to take over from the old guard. This was the purpose of taking them last sumer, to detect up-and-coming players, build them up and bring them into the first team.

Bundestrainer Jogi Löw kann sich einen Job als Klubtrainer vorstellen

Joachim Löw was asked about a recent Jürgen Klinsmann interview, where Jürgen said it would difficult for Germany to retain the World Cup and that he believed Jogi would retire from football when he left the DFB. Jogi said he was right on the first point, that it is a hard task as reigning champions and very difficult to maintain that constant level of commitment. Other nations are catching up. However, on the second point, Jogi says retirement is far from his mind, he has a contract running for several years, he is enjoying life as it stands, but that he could quite imagine taking over at a club one day. He emphasised his love of being on the pitch with players.

As a final point, he says that it does not mean anything that there are no Borussia Dortmund players in the squad this month as this is mostly down to injury. Mario Götze he spoke to in Freiburg and believes he needs more games to get his rhythmn back. Julian Weigl has a promising future ahead and will add a lot to the national team, and he feels that November may very well be the best time to test both of them.

Summary of the press conference from

Der Tag vor dem Spiel in Belfast

Training, Kleine Kampfbahn Stadium, Frankfurt, 3 October 2017

Training in Frankfurt

Ankunft der Spieler - 3 October 2017

Timo Werner will sit out of the World Cup qualification games against Northern Ireland and Azerbaijan. According to his club RB Leipzig, the 21-year-old is suffering from a neck muscle injury and will miss the matches in Belfast on Thursday and in Kaiserslautern, Germany on Sunday as a result. The forward also missed RB Leipzig's Bundesliga game in Cologne on Sunday for the same reason.
Germany head coach Joachim Löw has forgone giving a late call-up to anyone, so Die Mannschaft will travel to Belfast with 22 players. - from, 2 October 2017

Schnupfen und leichtes Fieber: Löw muss sich schonen - 1 October 2017
Due to a cold and slight fever, Jogi had to cancel a planned appearance on ZDF-Sportstudio on Saturday evening, but should be fit for the upcoming internationals!

Germany without Özil, Khedira for qualifiers against N Ireland, Azerbaijan - 29 September 2017

Boateng and Sané return for final World Cup qualifiers

18 of the 23 players who have made the squad were part of the team that also won the Confederations Cup in Russia this year. Leroy Sané and Jérôme Boateng make their return to the squad after an extended period on the outside looking in. Captain Manuel Neuer, as well as Jonas Hector and Mario Gomez, will all miss out due to injuries. Also unavailable for selection were Mesut Özil (knee issues) and Sami Khedira (thigh).

"It's unfortunate that a few of our most experienced players weren't available for selection," says Joachim Löw. "In the cases of Mesut Özil and Sami Khedira, I think that it will do them good in the long run to be rested throughout the international break. That's the most important thing at the moment. It's critical that they're at full fitness for the next year.
Löw was very clear when speaking before the final two qualifiers that "we want to continue the strong campaign we've had so far. We still want to win all ten games. We need to see this through successfully, all the way to the end. When we play to our strengths, that will happen.""We're all looking forward to what will be a big game in Belfast. We know that they're a good team already, thanks to the fact that they haven't conceded a single goal other than in the game against us."

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), Shkodran Mustafi (Arsenal), Mats Hummels, Joshua Kimmich, Niklas Süle, Jérôme Boateng (all Bayern München), Antonio Rüdiger (Chelsea)Marvin Plattenhardt (Hertha BSc)
Midfield/Forwards:Julian Brandt (Bayer Leverkusen), Emre Can (Liverpool), Julian Draxler (Paris Saint-Germain), Sandro Wagner (Hoffenheim), Toni Kroos (Real Madrid), Thomas Müller, Sebastian Rudy (both Bayern München), Lars Stindl (Borussia Mönchengladbach), Timo Werner (RB Leipzig), Amin Younes (Ajax Amsterdam),Leon Goretzka (Schalke 04), Leroy Sané (Manchester City)

In his post-match remarks after the previous qualifer against Norway, Joachim Löw commented "We were expecting Northern Ireland to win at home to the Czech Republic, which they did. Northern Ireland are strong at home and they've only conceded two goals in the group, which were both against us. They've kept a clean sheet in seven of their eight games so far! Now there will be a showdown between us which will be interesting, since they've already qualified for the playoffs at least." - 4 September 2017

Last updated 6 October 2017
With thanks to everyone, especially Lucille, Susanne and Silke.
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