1. Germany in gala mode
Fans in Hamburg may not have warmed to the Nationalmannschaft in recent times, jeering the team off the field following an uninspiring draw with Finland in 2009 and quick to show their displeasure two years ago when coach, Joachim Löw decided only to field second-stringers in a friendly against Poland.
So what a sea-change it was on Saturday, the Volksparkstadion sent into raptures by Germany’s brilliant 3-0 World Cup qualifying victory over the Czech Republic.
“You had the feeling someone had turned the volume right up, ” said central defender, Mats Hummels.
Great backing, great performance. Boasting the harmony, fluidity and understanding of a club eleven, the slick Germans had the Czechs running for cover from beginning to end and could, with a touch more composure in the red zone, have scored several more.
Oozing flair and fantasy and constantly creating overloads or one-on-one situations in the attacking-third, Löw’s side did not just weave its pretty short-passing magic. They regularly went direct too, splendidly breaching the high Czech defensive line with long diagonal balls, most of them sweetly struck by sophisticated centre-backs, Jerome Boateng and Mats Hummels.
A word to the wise: this Germany certainly can mix up the styles.
2. Happy where I am
Now in his eleventh season as German national team coach, Joachim Löw has ruled out the possibility of ever again coaching in the Bundesliga.
Löw, who early in his technical area career, ran the show at Stuttgart and Karlsruhe, made it clear in an interview with the Funke media group that a domestic top-flight job wasn’t for him, taking the opportunity to aim a broadside at club officials who hire and fire on a whim.
“What doesn’t sit well with me is the way in which a change of coach sometimes happens,” said Löw. “It can be appropriate, though it has to be done fairly and correctly. Unfortunately it does not always seem to be the case. On occasion, a coach is completely left out in the rain and for weeks can look as if he’s being led around with a ring in his nose.”
Contractually tied to the German federation until the summer of 2018, Löw let it be known on Friday that he was ready to hold talks about a new deal and DFB president, Reinhard Grindel, appears only too happy to oblige: ” I said during Euro 2016 that as far as I was concerned, Jogi Löw is the best thing to happen to our national team and that also applies beyond 2018. ”
The victory over the Czechs was Löw’s 140th match in charge of the Nationalmannschaft, thus making him the second-longest serving Bundestrainer of all-time. Bettered only by the venerable Sepp Herberger, who led the team in 167 games between 1954 and 1966.
3. Civil war breaks out in Dortmund
In a rare example of in-house feuding at the usually well-oiled Dortmund operation, coach Thomas Tuchel and club chief scout, Sven Mislintat are reported to be at daggers drawn. So much so that the latter is persona non grata at the training ground and the pair have not spoken to one another in months.
As the man who did the spadework for countless ‘Schwarz Gelben’ recruitment coups – notably the signings of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Shinji Kagawa, Raphael Guerreiro and Ousmane Dembele – Mislintat enjoys a great deal support in the corridors of power of the Westfalen outfit, especially from director of sport, Michael Zorc.
But not really one for office politics, Tuchel simply cannot muster the same levels of enthusiasm, unhappy with the quality of the scout’s half-time video reports and blaming him for Dortmund’s abortive attempt to sign Atletico Madrid midifielder, Olivier Torres, who after appearing on the cusp of a move to the Ruhr this summer, finally opted for a second loan spell at FC Porto.
4. Meet the new boss, not the same as the old boss.
So unfortunate with injuries these past few years, Bayern Munich defender, Holger Badstuber, has claimed in a TV interview that present Bayern boss, Carlo Ancelotti offers much more in the up close and personal stakes than predecessor, Pep Guardiola.
“Of course, it’s a good feeling when your coach shows an interest in you,” the German international told Sky Deutschland. “With the previous coach it was a little different. Our current coach looks to exchange views with the players. We’ve a conversation which goes back and forth. That’s good. With Pep I would have to approach him.”
During’s Guardiola’s time at the Bayern helm, Badstuber suffered no fewer than three physical breakdowns, missing a grand total of 432 working days.
5. Chicharito: Bye bye Bayer?
While Spanish daily AS have been flagging up the apparent interest of Sevilla and Valencia in Leverkusen’s Mexican hot-shot, Chicharito, two all-important questions remain.
A: Can the aforementioned La Liga outfits afford him? Under contract to the Rhinelanders until the summer of 2018 and the subject of a 45 million euro release clause, the former
Manchester United and Real Madrid will not come cheap and the chances of the Werkself negotiating a discount are slim indeed.
B: Why on earth would Leverkusen let the BayArena cult hero go? In a little over a year, he already has racked 33 goals in all competitions, making himself an absolutely indispensable part of coach Roger Schmidt’s plans.
The odds on ‘The Little Pea’ hitting the high road in January ? Slim to non-existent.