Following their comfortable win over Peru on Saturday night Hansi Flick’s Germany face a much tougher assignment on Tuesday as they entertain Belgium at Köln’s Rhein-Energie Stadion. Both sides are looking to rebuild their reputations following disappointing World Cup campaigns and the friendly clash will pit the Nationalelf against former Schalke and RB Leipzig coach Domenico Tedesco, who succeeded Roberto Martinez after Belgium’s adventures in Qatar.
The German win over Peru was comfortable to say the least with the South Americans not really troubling the German defence. The 2-0 scoreline could and should have been higher, but the there were plenty of positives to take from the performance in Mainz.
The experiment with a twin strike force worked with Niclas Füllkrug continuing his good scoring run with the national team with both goals. Timo Werner however did himself no favours with a below-par performance, and with Mergim Berisha waiting in the wings, Flick could be tempted to try an alternative pairing against Belgium.
Marius Wolf impressed at right back and looks set to be given the chance to make that berth his own in the run-up to the European Championships in 2024. Without qualification to worry about Germany are going to have to make the most of the friendlies they have and Belgium should provide their first real test. Germany haven’t lost a friendly in their last 13 outings but will have to be on their toes against a team boasting some world class players.
New Belgian trainer Domenico Tedesco got his reign with the Red Devils off to a fine start with a 3-0 away win over Sweden in their Group F qualifier in Stockholm. Captained by Kevin de Bruyne, they brushed the Swedes aside courtesy of a Romelu Lukaku hattrick. The treble will act as much-needed confidence boost for the Inter striker after he suffered a horror show against Croatia in the World Cup with his misses costing the nation dearly.
Tedesco will be very familiar with the German players following his time in the Bundesliga and will be keen to prove himself after being fired by RB Leipzig earlier this season following a poor start to the season.
Belgium is a team in transition right now with the being right for a raft of youngsters to be integrated into the team while the ‘old guard’ are gradually phased out. There remains however the key man de Bruyne, keeper Thibault Courtois and the goals of Lukaku.
It may only be a friendly, but both European heavyweights will be keen to show their potential with a morale-boosting win on Tuesday.
Nico Schlotterbeck limped out of the Peru match in the final minutes and has returned to Dortmund as a precaution. The same goes for Kai Havertz, who has returned to Chelsea. Hansi Flick has said there may be one or two changes, but the basic structure will be kept meaning the 4-2-2-2 formation should remain in place.
Mergim Berisha could be a replacement for the disappointing Timo Werner, while Mario Götze could start in place of Florian Wirtz who is being eased back. Malick Thiaw could be an alternative in the absence of Nico Schlotterbeck.
Possible line-up: Ter Stegen; Wolf, Ginter, Thiaw, Raum; Kimmich, Goretzka; Gnabry, Götze; Berisha, Füllkrug
Keeper Thibault Courtois has been allowed to return to club side Real Madrid meaning that VfL Wolfsburg’s Koen Casteels should deputise in goal. Dodi Lukebakio faces stiff competition for his spot wide right from PSV Eindhoven’s Johan Bakayoko, with both players providing assists for Lukaku against Sweden.
Possible line-up: Casteels; Castagne, Faes, Vertonghen. Theate; Onana; Lukebakio, De Bruyne, Carrasco; Trossard, Lukaku
What they’re saying
Hansi Flick: “Of course, Belgium are a different calibre. We’re happy to play against such an opponent. Maybe there will be one or two changes. But we want to keep the basic structure.”
…more to follow
Domenico Tedesco: “It’s an important victory [v Sweden], but we’re still a long way from the football I want to see. We lost a few balls too easily, which could have allowed Sweden to lead. We were sometimes too nervous. And we went too far back in the second half. We have to analyse why. But overall, I’m obviously satisfied. And a win is the best medicine.”
Dodi Lukebakio: “I continue to work hard to try to reproduce this performance on Saturday. This match in Germany is a special one indeed. I know the stadium in Cologne well too, and it’s an important game for us in fact. We have a new coach, and even a new team in the end when we see the arrival of young people.
“Germany, we know, it’s a big country. There are great talents and Germany is preparing a new generation. Our coach knows the Germans very well, we will analyse this together to see how we can beat them.”
Sebastaian Bornauw: “It [Köln] was my first club in a major league. Cologne is a very nice city, with open people. I have fond memories of my time there. It will definitely be a special game for me.
“Germany remains Germany, even if it is only 14th in the FIFA rankings. Every game is important for them in view of the Euro. This country is also going through a generational change, but the young players have a lot of qualities. There is Füllkrug who is a very good striker. But also Felix, the brother of Lukas Nmecha, with whom I evolve and who is very talented.
“Bayern Munich’s current crisis could perhaps inspire the players to come up even stronger. In any case, so we have to expect strong opposition and a very competitive team. It will be a big test.”
25/03/23 Peru (h) 2-0 W (Friendly)
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)
24/03/23 Sweden (a) 0-3 W (European Championship qualifier)
01/12/22 Croatia (n) 0-0 D (World Cup)
27/11/22 Morocco (n) 2-0 L (World Cup)
23/11/22 Canada (n) 1-0 W (World Cup)
18/11/22 Egypt (a) 2-1 L (Friendly)
The last meeting between the two neighbours saw Germany brush the Belgians aside with ease in a European Championship qualifier back in October 2011.
Joachim Löw’s side won 3-1 against a Belgian side under the tutelage of Georges Leekens. Mesut Özil and Andre Schürrle scored in the first half in Düsseldorf with Mario Gomez adding a third just after half time. Belgium grabbed a late consolation goal through a Marouane Fellaini header.
Players to watch
Should he be given a start ahead of Timo Werner, Augsburg’s Mergim Berisha will be an interesting addition to Hansi Flick’s set-up. Since moving to the Bundesliga from Turkey, he has proved a handful scoring eight league goals including in both matches against Bayern Munich. If Hansi Flick is looking for a strike duo, Berisha could provide the ideal foil for Niclas Füllkrug (as Marvin Ducksch does at Werder).
The German defence was hardly tested by Peru, but after scoring a hattrick against Sweden on Friday, Inter striker Romelu Lukaku will be a much tougher prospect for the German back line to deal with. With Kevin de Bruyne providing the passes centrally and Dodi Lukebakio/ Leandro Trossard delivering from out wide, the Belgian forward will be one to keep a firm eye on.