Hartford (dpa) – Julian Nagelsmann's choice of words was not appropriate for American ears. “If you lose, that's it…,” said the new national coach before their first match against the United States. There was a long beep in the ESPN video, indicating the use of an expletive.
Defeat in his first show as DFB coach with the national soccer team on Saturday (9 p.m./RTL) at Pratt & Whitney's Rentschler Stadium in Hartford, which was sold out to nearly 40,000 spectators, would actually be pretty bad. Unspeakable to Nagelsmann – and a reason for insults.
German football suffers greatly from a painful lack of success. That's why Nagelsmann, the big hope, prefers to talk about victory before kick-off. “This is the most important topic to have a good mood,” the 36-year-old said. “In football it's always like this, when you win, everything you did before was good.”
Kimmich's use is uncertain
The fact that Joshua Kimmich was unable to attend the final training session in Foxborough before the trip to Hartford due to a cold was a setback for Nagelsmann. His close friend from his days at Bayern is a key player in the new start for the German Football Association (DFB) selections.
The commitment shown by the national coach himself in his early days coaching in Foxborough was promising. Nagelsmann always seemed a few steps ahead. He couldn't get on the field fast enough. With his broad strides, he often outstripped his assistants Sandro Wagner and Mads Podegeret, who were rushing behind him, by a few metres.
Then, undeterred by the seriously nearby fountain, Nagelsmann positioned himself behind the lawn sprinkler and quickly moved some red magnetic buttons to the correct position on the tactics board that was always located at the edge of the training area. It is clear that the head coach now pays attention to every detail.
Hummels wants to 'light the fire'
Bayern veteran Thomas Muller (34 years old) said: “What the situation in which we lost a lot means is that we do not sell these friendly matches that way for ourselves. We definitely want to win and get off to a good start.” “To ignite the flame that can carry the country to the European Championship on home soil, two wins may not be a prerequisite, but they will be very important,” said Müller's friend and returnee to Germany Mats Hummels (34 years old) in the same direction.
Nagelsmann's coordinates are clear. Momentum trumps perspective. And the additional tactical episodes do not bring any additional profit on the project's path to the domestic European Championship in 2024. “He deliberately mentioned it two or three times,” said Müller, who noticed little change in Nagelsmann compared to his time at Bayern, which ended with great fanfare in March. “Times, so he obviously didn't want to keep it too complicated.”
Nagelsmann knows how much an opening win can swing the mood in the right direction. Otherwise, he could also ask directly Rudi Föller, who quickly promoted him to the position of national coach in September and is closely monitoring developments in the USA. Under Völler, Germany won the first match in 2000 against Spain 4-1 in a similarly bleak situation – and less than two years later, Germany found themselves, quite unexpectedly, in a World Cup final against Brazil in Japan.
Germany football needs a similar euphoria again. Even if Müller can no longer tolerate the national team's demands that he be responsible for the mood in the country. “But I don't think we always have to fight for the good of every fan and always create a feeling of optimism. I called it cowardice and it's still cowardice. We are there so we have to focus fully on winning matches. “Matches create a feeling of optimism.
4-2-2-2 as the system formula
“You can do team building events, you can push all sorts of things, but it's the successes on the field that pay off,” Hummels added. The last national coach to lose the opening match was Erik Rebek in 1998, 0-1 in Turkey. The current parallel with the Rebeck era should not be an obstacle to success. 28.5 years on average. The last time a team in the German Football Association was this old was under the leadership of “Sir Eric” at the end of the 1990s. The duo of Muller and Hummels, world champions together at Rio 2014, are symbols of a commitment to maturity under Nagelsmann, who is only two years his senior. There are twelve professionals over 30 years old in the 26-man squad.
On the one hand, creating stability quickly and at the same time enabling the desire to attack again – these are the challenges of current football. Vigilant observers were able to identify the short camp on the east coast of the United States: 4-2-2-2. This is the version of the system through which Nagelsmann wants to achieve both. These “basic principles,” Nagelsmann says, were missing at the sad end of the unhappy era of his predecessor Hansi Flick. “The important keyword is that we find the right positions in our group as a team in different operations,” said Müller.
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