Lightly Manned Germany Wary Of 'Nasty' Hungary

Lightly Manned Germany Wary Of ‘Nasty’ Hungary

Germany go into Friday’s Nations League clash with Hungary in Leipzig well aware of the quality of their opponents, having drawn 1-1 in Budapest in the summer.

Sitting behind Hungary in second place in their group, Germany will have to contend with Hungarians who are missing four first-team players, including captain Manuel Neuer, striker Marco Reus, midfielders Leon Goretzka and Julian Brandt.

Dortmund captain Reus injured his ankle in his team’s 1-0 derby win over Schalke on Sunday, while Neuer and Goretzka (both due to covid) and Brandt (flu) were ruled out on Wednesday.

Speaking to the press before the match, Borussia Moenchengladbach midfielder Jonas Hoffmann, who scored in the 1-1 draw, said Germany needed to prepare for an aggressive and organized opponent.

“Hungary have a team that acts with enormous power, that sticks to its plan for 90 minutes plus stoppage time,” Hoffmann said on Wednesday.

“We didn’t have many chances there (in Budapest) and that says a lot.

“(We must) play with determination and consistency in Leipzig on Friday night to get to the opposite goal as soon as possible.”

West Ham defender Thilo Kehrer said his Germany team was wary of their “nasty opponents”.

“They are unpleasant rivals, we notice, but so are the Italians and the English. They will come with a lot of commitment and will.”

Coach Hansi Flick said he hoped striker Timo Werner, who will play in front of his home crowd in Leipzig, could turn his chances into goals.

“He always creates chances in front of goal. He releases skillfully,” Flick said.

“Improving his efficiency in the weeks leading up to the World Cup would be good for him and good for us.”

Werner, who scored twice in Germany’s 3-1 win over Ukraine in Leipzig in 2020, has only scored once in six games since returning to RB Leipzig from Chelsea in August.

One to watch: Armel Bella Kotchap (Southampton)

The biggest surprise of coach Flick’s announcement was the inclusion of unlimited defender Armel Bella Kotchap, who was named in the squad ahead of several experienced players, including Borussia Dortmund’s Mats Hummels and Bayer Leverkusen’s Jonathan Tah.

Paris-born Bella Kotchap moved to Southampton in the Premier League in the summer after impressing with VfB Bochum, whom she helped promote to the Bundesliga in the 2020-21 season.

Although Bella Kotchap represented Germany at youth levels, the 190cm tall defender was not expecting a call-up to the Nations League and said he “didn’t know the number” when Flick called to break the news.

“I was very surprised, but also very happy,” said Bella Kotchap.

Ralph Hasenhuettl, Bella Kotchap’s national coach, who according to Flick was a strong supporter of Bella Kotchap’s selection, said the German defender had “shown the most consistent performances so far” of anyone in his Southampton squad.

key stats

7 points: Hungary tops the group with seven points from four games, with Germany second on six points. England, whom Germany will face on Monday, sit bottom of the four-team group with two draws and two losses so far.

3-2: The stunning scoreline of Germany’s upset victory over a Hungarian team captained by Ferenc Puskas in the 1954 World Cup final. Hungary had thrashed Germany 8-3 in the group stage.

1-1: The result when the two teams last met in their June Nations League clash in Budapest. Zsolt Nagy opened the scoring for Hungary after six minutes, before Jonas Hoffmann equalized just three minutes later.

dwi/nr

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