Germany face Peru on Saturday in their first fixture since the debacle that was the Qatar World Cup with Hansi Flick looking to build for the future and the European Championships on home soil in fifteen months.
The national team has a lot of bridges to build with the home support after three tournament failures with a fresh start with new faces the order of the day for the two friendlies in March. Flick is keen to put pressure on the more established stars and reward those on form in the Bundesliga.
The Bundestrainer has called up five completely new faces in Mergim Berisha, Marius Wolf, Joshua Vagnoman, Felix Nmecha and Kevin Schade, while there are recalls for both Emre Can and Florian Wirtz. Veterans Thomas Müller, Ilkay Gundogan, and Antonio Rüdiger miss out as does Leroy Sané.
The Peruvians should prove the easier of the two opponents in the two friendlies with Belgium to come in Düsseldorf next week. Germany don’t have much experience playing the South Americans with just two previous encounters- in the 1970 World Cup in Mexico and a friendly in 2018 following the World Cup disaster in Russia.
With no qualification process to work through ahead of the next European Championships Hansi Flick will be looking to make the most out of every friendly between now and then to refashion the German national team and get them back to challenging for top honours as they have been used to for so long.
He will want to experiment with new faces, but he also has to have one eye on results and not antagonising the footballing public anymore after the dismal displays in the previous three international tournaments.
Peru are using the friendlies with Germany and then Morocco as a preparation for their own qualification process for the 2026 World Cup, The Bicolor agonisingly missed out on the Qatar World Cup losing on penalties to Australia in the play-offs so will want to go one better in 2026.
That defeat to the Socceroos spelt the end of the tenure of coach Ricardo Gareca with Juan Máximo Reynoso coming in as the new national team coach. He lost his first match against Mexico 1-0, but since then has overseen a three-match series of wins against El Salvador, Paraguay and Bolivia.
He has picked a squad with predominantly foreign-based players, but he has nominated eight players who ply their trade in the Peruvian domestic league including former Schalke, St Pauli and Eintracht Frankfurt defender Carlos Zambrano.
Peru has a rich link with the Bundesliga thanks to the achievements of the legendary Claudio Pizarro (Werder Bremen, Bayern Munich and Köln) as well as Jefferson Farfan (Schalke) and Paulo Guerrero (HSV).
Hansi Flick has intimated that he will be handing debuts out against Peru, but how many of the new face will start in Mainz remains to be seen. Jamal Musiala has withdrawn from the squad through injury as has Southampton defender Armel Bella-Kotchap.
Timo Werner and Florian Wirtz, who both missed out on the World Cup will be desperate to make a return, while Marc-Andre Ter-Stegen should continue to deputise for Manuel Neuer in goal. Flick might play with two strikers (a novelty after so long without a single recognised front man).
Possible line-up: ter Stegen – Wolf, Ginter, Schlotterbeck, Raum – Can, Kimmich – Wirtz, Havertz – Füllkrug, Werner
Recent reports are claiming that coach Juan Maximo Reynoso is going to try a new formation for the clash with Germany going for a 3-5-2 formation. Cagliari striker Gianluca Lapadula has arrived with a slight injury so may miss out against the Germans. Seattle Sounders striker Raúl Ruidíaz could lead the line.
Possible line-up: Pedro Gallese, Anderson Santamaría, Renato Tapia, Luis Abram, Luis Advíncula, Wilder Cartagena, Yoshimar Yotún, Marcos López, André Carrillo, Ray Sandoval ,Raúl Ruidíaz .
What they’re saying
Niklas Füllkrug: “Hansi Flick is definitely interested in working on and improving many different things. He talks with us a lot about various topics, though he always been good at communicating. Sometimes he doesn’t get the backing he deserves though. He deserves credit for brave decisions. Respect isn’t a one-way street. We want to be successful and we will have two good teams out on the pitch for these two friendlies.
“Playing with another striker has both advantages and disadvantages, but I think there are more benefits to it. When you have just one striker, you tend to play a lot of passes back towards your own goal. A second striker allows you to mix things up more. We’ve got a number of players in the national team that can do that and know how to get into dangerous positions. I feel really comfortable playing alongside another striker and will be happy if I get the chance to be out on the pitch.
“Harmony doesn’t just mean being nice to everyone. It’s important to have some friction too, although you can’t let it get out of control. A new team needs to take time to find itself. Teams grow from successes, failures and memories. You have to work on your chemistry and find your best XI, but also allow others the chance to get in the side. It’s a fine balancing act and one we have to manage.”
Marc-Andre ter Stegen: “We now have a good schedule with two good games. I think that the games this New Year will go differently. It is the first training camp of the New Year, that’s what the team is focussed on. We are trying to make sure everyone fit in well so that we can work as a team. We have to set up for our opponents with passion and desire. That is the path that we have to take.
“We are trying to push ourselves as a team and to move on from the errors of the past. We have the players to do that. The experienced players have gone out and given the team cover so that as a whole we can grow.
Gianluca Lapadula: “Why not think about a win against Germany?”
Edison Flores: “”I feel good. I’m happy to see my teammates again, hoping for some opportunity that can come up in these two games. To give the best for the national team, is what we are looking for.
“There are different ideas [from Ricardo Gareca’s], he [Reynoso] knows what each one can give, he obviously knows the environment and is working hard to be able to be at a high level and achieve important things and important goals for the team. He like us, is happy to be in the national team and to be able to work for his country.”
01/12/22 Costa Rica (n) 4-2 W (World Cup)
27/11/22 Spain (n) 1-1 D (World Cup)
23/11/22 Japan (n) 1-2 L (World Cup)
16/11/22 Oman (a) 0-1 W (Friendly)
26/09/22 England (a) 3-3 D (Nations League)
20/11/22 Bolivia (h) 1-0 W (Friendly)
17/11/22 Paraguay (h) 1-0 W (Friendly)
28/09/22 El Salvador (a) 1-4 W (Friendly)
25/09/22 Mexico (a) 1-0 L (Friendly)
13/06/22 Australia (n) 0-0p L (World Cup Qualifier)
The last meeting of the two nations came after the 2018 World Cup in Russia, in a friendly match held on September 9 Rhein Neckar Arena. Germany triumphed 2-1 with Joachim Löw overcoming his Peruvian counterpart Ricardo Gareca.
Luis Advíncula put the ‘blanquirroja’ ahead after 22 minutes, while Julian Brandt (25′) and Nico Schulz (85′) turned the game in the hosts favour and saved Germany’s blushes after the disaster in Russia.
Players to watch
All eyes will be on the new faces Hansi Flick brings into the team, but in the absence of Jamal Musiala, there will be huge focus on Bayer Leverkusen’s Florian Wirtz, who makes his long-awaited return after his knee injury. He missed out on the World Cup and alongside Musiala is regarded as the future of German football going forward. This is the first chance to really shine on the international stage for the youngster.
Any defensive failings or weaknesses in the German back line could be punished by striker Gianluca Lapadula (injury permitting), who is currently Cagliari’s top scorer in Italy’s Serie B with 15 goals. Torino-born Lapadula qualifies for Peru as his mother is Peruvian, although he was once an unused substitute for Italy against Germany in a friendly back in 2016. Lapadula has played for a whole host of clubs with Milan being the highlight.