International

Where is the Loew? Germany's youngsters face Euro qualifiers without coach

2019-06-08 07:46

Berlin - Germany coach Joachim Loew will be watching on television as his fresh-faced young team take on Belarus in the first of two upcoming Euro 2020 qualifiers on Saturday.

Loew was in hospital last week after suffering an accident in the gym, and will be absent when Germany face Belarus in Borisov on Tuesday and Estonia in Mainz next Tuesday. 

He is set to be replaced in the dugout by assistant Marcus Sorg, who takes charge of a young squad which he knows well from his time as Germany under-19 coach. 

With six players in the squad under the age of 24 and only one, captain Manuel Neuer, with more than 50 caps to his name, Germany's rejuvenation process is now in full swing following last year's World Cup disaster.

Of the 23-man squad set to face Belarus and Estonia, goalkeeper Neuer is the only survivor from Germany's World Cup winning class of 2014.

"I've noticed that I am now the old dog, and I want to help the team develop," Neuer said on Tuesday.

"The team still needs to find itself with the young players, and we are doing a lot off the field to help us gel a bit more as a group."

Ten of the squad have less than ten caps, and in goalkeeper Sven Ulreich and defender Niklas Stark, there are two players hoping to make their international debuts.

While the likes of Ilkay Gundogan and Marco Reus have experience at the highest level in club football, they still have fewer caps than younger players such as Julian Draxler and Joshua Kimmich. 

As the new group takes shape, Neuer called on the younger players to "take on responsibility" and said in that sense, it was a positive thing that assistant coach Sorg would take the reins this week.

"It is good that Sorg is taking a decisive role. He knows a lot of the young players and can make good judgements," said the goalkeeper.

Both Draxler and Kimmich are among those who played under Sorg at Under-19 level, and Draxler said on Thursday the team had "no problem" with Loew's absence.

"Obviously we would have wanted Jogi here, but we all get on with Marcus Sorg. He is very communicative and talks to every player," said Draxler. 

Sorg himself said on Friday the team were well prepared for their second Euro 2020 qualifier, despite the unrest caused by Loew's absence.

"The players have a good feeling for the situation which has helped," he said. "I've known many of them for a long time, so I trust them and they trust me."

Sorg said Loew would have the "final say" when it came to team selection, and he was in constant phone contact with the head coach.

"The only thing that will be different tomorrow is that it will be me giving the team talk. And I still have 24 hours to write it."

 

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