Following the comfortable win over Peru on Saturday, Bundestrainer Hansi Flick has turned his attention to the tougher assignment that Belgium will provide the Nationalmannschaft on Tuesday at the Rhein-Energie Stadion In Cologne.
“We have made the first step, but now we are facing an opponent of a quite different quality” Flick said at Monday’s press conference. “We are looking forward to the game in Cologne. Belgium have a new coach and a new spirit. You can see that they have outstanding footballers in their squad.
“They defend compactly and know how to use their possession, especially on the wings and in one-on-one situations, like against Sweden. These are things that make the team stand out, and they are one of the best there is. Belgium are a good opponent to measure ourselves against.
The basic structure played against Peru (a 4-2-2-2 system) will remain with a couple of enforced changes and possibly a few others tweak. Nico Schlotterbeck will be replaced by Thilo Kehrer while Kai Havertz (fever) will see Serge Gnabry take his place.
“We might make one or two further changes. Against Peru, we tried to be well organised and compact in all areas of defence, and we managed that well in parts, but we still have room for improvement, and we want to show that against Belgium” Flick explained.
“We deliberately brought in new players and thought about how to put the team together, and exactly what we hoped for has happened. We came out with confidence and there is a good, refreshing atmosphere. The energy is there. We are very happy with what the team has shown and hope to be able to let one or two others play, but our focus is on being successful.
“We will have to wait and see how the game goes, so I can’t make any promises in advance. We need stability in our game and conviction in defence, that’s why there will only be a few changes. We will show consideration when it comes to protecting players from injuries. Everyone here can play for all three days, and there are no plans to go easy on them, but we will make sure that if a player is at a limit, we will take that into consideration.
“Wins are always good, also for your self-confidence, but the way you play can also inspire the fans. I can already say that I felt a positive atmosphere out there.”