Golden boy, cult figure and teenager (

Mats Hummels and Marco Reus are not allowed to go to the World Cup. Your Dortmund club colleague Youssoufa Moukoko (from left), on the other hand, does.

Photo: imago/Team 2

Perhaps Hansi Flick also lost a certain amount of pressure afterwards. After the national coach had announced his squad for the World Cup in Qatar (November 20 to December 18), the 57-year-old chatted relaxedly at a few high tables on the DFB campus about the many challenges of this sporting event. Flick had previously explained why Niclas Füllkrug and Youssoufa Moukoko, two in-form Bundesliga strikers with no international appearances, are in his 26-strong circle. And why Mario Götze’s comeback was almost inevitable. Bringing back the golden boy from Rio de Janeiro is actually the biggest surprise.

The persistently strong form of the noble technician from Eintracht Frankfurt left Flick almost no other choice. »Our focus is on how someone performs. We all know that Mario is a brilliant footballer who has flashes of inspiration.« Götze, who has meanwhile disappeared in Munich and Dortmund, also spoke for his physical constitution. “He can play 90 minutes three times a week. He’s in great shape,” said Flick. Götze played his last of 63 international matches against France (2-2) almost exactly five years ago.

More space was also given to the explanations as to why Werder Bremen’s center forward Füllkrug and Borussia Dortmund’s top talent Moukoko should be two debutants in the desert to fill the vacuum in the center forward position, for which Timo Werner (RB Leipzig) and then Lukas Nmecha (VfL Wolfsburg) injured. The 29-year-old filling jug was shown in the club jersey at the presentation because he cannot even show appearances in the U21 selection. However, the “momentum” (flick) speaks for the ten-time Bundesliga goal scorer. He is also the symbol of the green-and-white stand-up man: the strong-willed goal scorer is someone “who gives the team the confidence that something is still possible,” said Flick. »He has an element that is good for us right up front.« In Bremen, the news triggered a storm of enthusiasm. The teammates celebrated an impromptu cabin party in the Weser Stadium, at which the Northern Irish football cult anthem “Will Grigg’s on fire” was translated into a filling mug.

The youngster Moukoko (»I’m incredibly happy and overwhelmed«) was also very happy, even if the teenager brings other qualities to the pitcher. “He’s fast, lively and has a good degree,” said Flick about a hope for the home European Championship in 2024, who will only come of age on the day of the World Cup opening game in Qatar.

However, two of his club colleagues were not included in the travel group. Both world champions Mats Hummels and Marco Reus, both 33, have to stay at home. Hummels was also no longer appointed under Joachim Löw’s successor. “Of course Mats was disappointed. He’s a valuable player, but we decided on a younger player,” explained Flick, who, knowing full well that he was already well positioned here, placed his trust in Armel Bella-Kotchap (Southampton FC), who was 13 years his junior, in the central defender position.

Reus also received a personal call: “Everyone knows how much I appreciate him, but we had to make a decision.” And so the long history of suffering with persistent ankle problems spoke against the Dortmund club captain, for whom club mate Karim Adeyemi, who was not necessarily to be expected, received a place. Due to insufficient playing times, Robin Gosens (Inter Milan) also rushed through the vibrating screen, who was left behind by Christian Günter (SC Freiburg).

Overall, the Bayern block with seven players – all with a regular place claim – forms the basis of a balanced squad. “We didn’t make it easy for ourselves in the coaching team and played through a lot of if-then strategies,” revealed Flick, who thanked Bayern coach Julian Nagelsmann for getting his top performers back in shape. Even problem child Thomas Müller could be used in the only friendly against Oman next Tuesday. Only two days before, the entourage meets in Frankfurt am Main to fly off to the five-day short training camp in Oman.

At the latest with the onward journey to Qatar, where the first group game against Japan (2 p.m., ARD) is scheduled for November 23, the protagonists then also get caught up in the sport-political field of tension. Flick used clear words to distance himself from the statements made by Qatar’s World Cup ambassador, Khalid Salman, who recently described homosexual acts banned in the host country as “mental harm”. That made him “speechless and stunned,” said the German coach with a serious expression. On the one hand, everyone must understand that they want to “concentrate on sport”, on the other hand he promised “that we will keep our eyes and ears open, not duck and draw attention to grievances”.

Numerous fan organizations demanded more than lip service on Thursday. Her suggestion: all prize money for the DFB, but also bonuses for the national players, should flow into a compensation fund for guest workers to support relatives of injured or dead migrant workers. Flick responded evasively to this suggestion, citing his heavy workload.



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