World Cup 2018 Qualifying Campaign Index


Sunday, 4 September 2016

UllevaalStadion, Oslo
World Cup 2018 Group C Qualifier

"The team did its job very well - we looked comfortable and in control of the game"

Thomas Müller 15', 60', Joshua Kimmich 45'

'Mission Titelverteidigung' begins with Germany winning convincingly as Joachim Löw enters his sixth campaign as Bundestrainer.

World Champions begin 2018 qualifying with a 3-0 win in Norway
Germany's title defence begins with comfortable win over Norway

Müller stars for World Cup holders in easy win
Müller scores twice as dominant Germany brush Norway aside

"We played well and dominated the match. Norway weren't the most difficult opponents to play against today, however we moved the ball around well and kept our shape. It was good to take the lead so early on with such a typical Thomas Müller goal. That will do him good for the rest of the season. We let our opponents have one or two chances which frustrated me, however, that can't always be prevented. In fact, Norway didn't really have any proper chances. In the first 20-30 minutes the full-backs got forward and played a lot of balls up the pitch.

Of course there are areas we can improve on, such as making the most of our chances and getting forward quicker when we win back possession. That was difficult to do today because Norway sat so deep and we were often trying to find a way through a wall of players. We have to improve our runs and incisiveness in the last 30 minutes of the match."

Löw: "The win was never in danger" - Jogi talks to

The team did its job very well - we looked comfortable and in control of the game, and we hardly allowed them to have any chances. We were disciplined in defence, even when Norway were playing some long balls. We made good use of the space available and got some good sights on goal at times. And we managed to score some goals! It was clear that the team wouldn't keep playing at that tempo until the end, as we were leading 3-0 and the season is still young. But overall, we put in a serious performance, and the win was never in danger.

When asked if this had been one of his easier wins as Bundestrainer, Jogi replied "No. We're still at the start of the season and you can tell by looking at the players that their rhythm can't be quite as high. But we put in a controlled performance and made the pitch wider and deeper, so Norway had to do a lot of running and got tired. We were always waiting for any gaps to appear, and we kept the tempo high. That's what made it difficult for Norway to get any tackles in or to get to the ball."

We had been working on increasing our presence in the area over the past few days, as well as in our assessment of the Euros, where we had been missing some efficiency and ruthlessness in front of goal. The team had that tonight, and the players in midfield or in the spaces in between did it well. We were everywhere in midfield - there were always three or four players there looking to get a shot away. That's important for the next two years.

(Breaking forward from defence) - "We didn't see much of that, because it wasn't a very open game. But in other matches, we'll be focusing on that issue, like against the Czech Republic, because they have a team with a lot of quality. They will surely want to play more football, and speed on the counter attack will be important again. The Czechs will be the toughest opposition to break down in this group, based just on the footballers and the experience they have."

Joachim Low praises Thomas Muller in Germany win, vows to give Gotze time

"We played very confidently," Low told reporters. "Norway did not come into play at all and had no opportunities to score. For Thomas Muller, I would have preferred it if he would have scored some goals at the European Championship!"
"He worked a lot and had many chances but did not score any goals."
"Of course there are things for us to improve -- efficiency, for example, was the big problem against France [in the Euro 2016 semifinals]."

"Mario Gotze obviously needs a bit of time," he added. "You can tell that the match practice is lacking. He needs a few games to bring back what is expected of him."

In an interview on, Jogi spoke further about Mario's situation "It's plain to see that he's not got the match practice behind him that he had during his first spell with Dortmund, or in certain phases in Munich. He needs to play a few more games. The move to Dortmund was a positive one for him, as a lot will be riding on him over the next few seasons. Once he's played a few games, he'll go back to being the Mario Götze that we know so well. I've seen some very, very good spells in training, and I can also see the smile back on his face and that he's enjoying his football. Match practice will be really important for him to show what he can do again."

Joachim Löw: "Vorgaben gut umgesetzt"
In a post-match interview, Jogi also praised Julian Brandt, commending his ability in one-on-ones and saying such players are essential for Germany's future. He said that being in the Maracana in the Olympics in front of 80,000 people was an important international experience for him.

He also said the Czech Republic would possibly be Germany's biggest challengers in the Group, and that the Czechs, Norway and Nothern Ireland will be fighting it out for second place - behind Germany!

Germany off to a smooth start in Oslo - minute-by-minute report on the match

Match Highlights from
Post-match press conference

Lehmann kritisiert BVB-Rückkehrer scharf - Löw reagiert irritiert
Löw zeigt Lehmann die kalte Schulter

We are becoming well accustomed to those who use a disguise of punditry to seek attention for themselves, and so it was with Jens Lehmann after the match, though his jealousy of that World Cup trophy sitting in front of him was obvious to all.
Reaction to Lehmann's outburst was far from sympathetic with many thinking he had gone too far in his apparent need to criticise, with attention being drawn by to RTL's dwindling viewing numbers and calling him embarrassing.

The full post-match interview on RTL

The Star Chamber of Count Jens - my own thoughts

Starting Line-Up:
Manuel Neuer, Joshua Kimmich, Benedikt Höwedes, Mats Hummels, Jonas Hector, Sami Khedira (Julian Weigl), Toni Kroos, Thomas Müller, Mesut Ozil, Julian Draxler (Max Meyer), Mario Götze (Julian Brandt)

An interview with Jogi shown pre-match - 4 September 2016
And a little reminder that he doesn't intend letting the World Cup go!

Training, Oslo, 3 September 2016

Press Conference, Oslo, 3 September 2016, with Toni Kroos

"We didn't come to Norway to enjoy the beautiful scenery."

Löw wants to hit the ground running against Norway

"We came here to Norway to win," he told the media on Saturday. "In the Euros qualifying, it was difficult, we lost the first [away] game.
"This time I do not want to experience such a mixed qualifying. For us it is very important that tomorrow we are highly concentrated go into the game and take the three points."
"After a major tournament you have to inspire yourself anew. When I had a vision a few years ago, we accomplished a lot with it. That's both confirmation and motivation. We are a team that can dominate the opposition but our analysis from the EURO's showed that we lack efficiency. In the semi-final against France we played well, had a lot of possession, showed a good attitude but still lost. Therefore I have two or three areas that we want to work on intensely and that is what motivates me. Furthermore, it's fun to integrate new players between tournaments

Germany's Joachim Low targets strong start to World Cup qualifying

"We usually have more possession than Norway," he said. "I do not think that they will attack us early, but they also play on the break. They can counter well and are also dangerous from set pieces."
"Norway lost their last game against Belarus, but they will line-up differently on Sunday. Playing against the World Champions is the biggest game of their qualification campaign and possibly the next few years for them. Norway are stronger than Finland and will provide a stern test for us. We will have more possession overall but Norway are always solid defensively and good at counter attacking as well as attacking set-pieces.""All players are fit. Julian Draxler was able to train again yesterday as well. There will be some players in the team who didn't feature against Finland."

Asked about the possibility of Max Meyer and Julian Brandt playing, he said that both have the quality to play for us but we still have to be careful. Both played at the Olympics and therefore we have to make sure they recover well and get through the next few weeks, however, I wouldn't be afraid to bring either one of them."

"The team is good enough to play both systems - with three or four players at the back. We could even see both formations within one game."

Löw kontert "ignorante Kritik"
Jogi also had sharp words for the ignorant critics who have been asserting that friendlies are "no good for anyone", pointing out how essential they are in bringing on and giving young players experience.

Löw: Vertragsverlängerung kein Thema
At the press conference, Jogi was asked about a possible contract extension. He replied that although he had a good working relationship with Reinhard Grindel, such a matter is not an issue for him at the moment with the World Cup qualifiers not yet started.

Der Tag vor dem Spiel in Oslo

WM-Qualifikation: Joachim Löw mit bestmöglicher Elf gegen Norwegen - 2 September 2016
Jogi will be selecting the strongest possible starting-line up for this, the first World Cup qualifier.

Training, Düsseldorf, 2 September 2016

Letztes Training in Düsseldorf

Regenerationstraining nach dem Finnland-Spiel - 1 September 2016

Germany confirm Bayern keeper Manuel Neuer as new captain

Löw said: "We are in a lucky situation of having numerous leading figures who have what it takes to be captain. For me, Manuel Neuer is the logical successor to Bastian Schweinsteiger. He has everything that I could wish for from a leading player.
"His performances are exceptional and Manuel is always there for the team. He's a team player and an absolute role model. He also has great human qualities. He takes on responsibility, leads the way while remaining cool and relaxed.
"He's highly regarded within the team while his word carries weight. While the responsibility will continue to be shared across many shoulders, I expect and I know that the leading players will work for the team, on and off the field."
Volland and Süle not travelling to Norway
Kevin Volland suffered a break to his right hand during the 2-0 victory over Finland in Mönchengladbach on Wednesday night. The Leverkusen forward has now left the team hotel in Düsseldorf. Niklas Süle is the other departure from the camp. The Hoffenheim centre back made his debut for Germany against Finland - and has returned to his club the following day as previously agreed.
On the other hand, Julian Brandt and Max Meyer have stayed with the squad, despite original plans for them to return to their clubs, like Süle, after the Finland match. All three were part of the silver medal-winning team for Germany at the Olympic Games in Rio. Because of the injury to Kevin Volland and the illness picked up by Julian Draxler (flu), it has now been agreed with the respective clubs that Brandt and Meyer will remain with Die Mannschaft.

Löw: So denkt er über den Kaltstart - 1 September 2016
In an interview with after the Finland game, Jogi looked ahead to the first World Cup qualifier "We're putting all of our focus on the game and want to get off to a good start. We're still not quite warmed as most of the players have only played one competitive Bundesliga game so far. It's not ideal, but we will do everything to kick off our campaign with a win."

"It won't be an easy to win the match in Norway," said Löw. The football season in Germany has only just started and the players are yet to find their rhythm. The Norwegians will stretch us to our limit; they will stay tight and will obviously want to prove a point against the World Champions. We will take Norway very seriously as we want to start our journey of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup with a win." - from, 26 August 2016

The full squad for the first international break of the season can be found on my Finland page.

Last updated 9 September 2016
With thanks to everyone, especially Sarah, Lucille, Silke and Susanne.
Anything else you think I should include on this page? Let me know!