Bella-Kotchap instead of Hummels: DFB coach Flick surprises the squad

The German national soccer team starts the decisive phase of the World Cup preparations.

Bella-Kotchap instead of Hummels: DFB coach Flick surprises the squad

The German national soccer team starts the decisive phase of the World Cup preparations. The Nations League double match day is the last course before Qatar. The national coach continues to do without two former world champions, but causes a surprise.

Mario Götze is not there, neither is Mats Hummels: national coach Hansi Flick nominated his last squad before the German national soccer team prepared for the World Cup and still did not take the former world champions in strong form into account. This is not a surprise - nor is it the end of all hopes. When announcing the squad for the Nations League games against Hungary on September 23 in Leipzig and three days later in London against England, the national coach emphasized that the door is not closed for any player. So not for Julian Draxler, who is fighting for form and playing time at Benfica Lisbon.

Armel Bella-Kotchap should now receive this for the senior national team for the first time. The appointment of the 20-year-old Southampton centre-back comes as a big surprise. Although the giant already delivered strong performances for VfL Bochum last season, the fact that he also asserted himself directly in the Premier League and after just five games for the “Saints” also became an alternative for Flick was not the case expect. Ralph Hasenhüttl, his club coach, wanted to slowly build up the fast and physically strong central defender. But nothing there, since the 2nd matchday he has completed every game for 90 minutes and with his individual qualities is reminiscent of the very young Jérôme Boateng (robust, strong in tackles, sometimes careless).

Flick praises the development of Bella-Kotchap. After discussions with Hasenhüttl and U21 national coach Antonio di Salvo, he decided to invite the top talent and have him audition. The competition in defense is fierce. Antonio Rüdiger currently has a permanent place in the squad, although he has not yet been able to assert himself as head of defense at his new club Real Madrid, Niklas Süle, Nico Schlotterbeck and Matthias Ginter, who is returning, as is left-back Robin Gosens. However, Hummels can continue to have justified hopes. At BVB he is the strongest central defender this season, Süle and Schlotterbeck alternately play at his side. "Mats still has every chance of making the squad," said Flick, who was live in the stadium for the game against Manchester City. "He looks very fit and has helped Dortmund a lot."

The same applies to Marco Reus, who can hope to play in the DFB jersey again for the first time since November 11, 2021. Since then he has either been injured or rested. As captain of Borussia, he has been delivering strong performances for weeks, leading Dortmund's converted offensive - and as a Mister 1-0 he is absolutely indispensable. In the national team, on the other hand, he has to fight for a permanent place. The biggest competitors are Kai Havertz (Chelsea) from London, Timo Werner from Leipzig and Thomas Müller, Leroy Sané, Serge Gnabry and Jamal Musiala from Munich. It is unclear whether Bayer Leverkusen's top talent Florian Wirtz will be fit in time. Flick says: "He's on target, but we're taking it seriously. It's important that he has good rehab because he's still very young. We're not putting any pressure on it." Flick is also looking for a player “for the special moments” like Götze had with his golden goal in 2014.

69 days before the start of the Winter World Cup, the national coach now wants to start very specifically with the preparations. On the new DFB campus in Frankfurt, he is focusing on strengthening the defence, getting better organization, improving the structure of the game from his own defense and making better use of the offensive areas with deep runs. Meanwhile, Flick has been mildly critical of the German Football League. Because the Bundesliga is still being played on November 13th. Possibly the same evening, or a day later at the latest, the DFB special flight will take off for the Arabian Gulf. "I would have liked to have been given more consideration."

Probably at the beginning of the week of the opening game between Qatar and Ecuador (November 20), the teams have to report their final squads to the world association. In contrast to his predecessors, Flick will not be able to name more than the 26 players allowed and then reduce them before leaving for the World Cup country. By the way: The current squad does not use the maximum possible number of nominations. A sign, as he says, that the door is still open to the unconsidered players.

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