Sun, 10 Dec 2023

German defense is Nagelsmann's most pressing issue

18 Nov 2023, 02:06 GMT+10

By Oliver Trust

BERLIN, Nov. 17 (Xinhua) -- The most pressing issue around the German national team on the road to the 2024 UEFA Euro seems easily detected, while solutions still must be found.

"Our main task is to get to a solid defending; we need to gain more options," German coach Julian Nagelsmann concluded ahead of the 2023 remaining friendlies against Turkey in Berlin and Austria in Vienna.

History might tell the story of how the wavering 2014 world champions' biggest challenge is when trying to deliver a satisfying tournament on home soil next summer.

While the front row seems well-equipped, the back row remains a puzzle for the former Bayern coach coming along with painful but inspiring memories.

Not only for Nagelsmann a solid defense is the key to happiness in front of a home crowd.

Taking the World Cup trophy in Brazil, the Germans only conceived four goals in seven games, while the last game without conceiving a goal takes the team back to the 2016 Euro when beating Belgium 3-0.

The 36-year-old and his players share the certainty "that it is much too easy to score against us" as midfielder Leon Goretzka put it. "We didn't do good on that over the recent tournaments," the Bayern midfielder added.

While Nagelsmann is puzzling over "tactical options" such as a chain of three or four, team internal competition about the backline positions has started.

While Real defender Antonio Ruediger seems safely seated, Dortmund's silverback Mats Hummels, Leverkusen's Jonathan Tah, Milan's Malick Thiaw, the BVB's Niklas Sule and Nico Schlotterbeck battle it out when it comes to the leftovers.

Meanwhile, Thiaw is missing the 2023 games due to the expected birth of his first child.

Depending on his approach, Nagelsmann must think about a suitable left and right back such as Union defender Robin Gosens and Leipzig's Benjamin Henrichs.

Central Tah seems an additional option as Nagelsmann went for intense testing but seems far from having yet found a convincing solution.

Ahead of the German coach's debut on home soil reports speak of the coach's decision to place Bayern's Joshua Kimmich in midfield next to team-captain and Barcelona midfielder Ilkay Gundogan.

Seven months ahead of the 2024 tournament, the German coach seems forced to find a solution shortly as he spoke about having his starting eleven together when facing the final pre-tournament test games in 2024.

Considering Nagelsmann's approach when in charge of Bayern, Leipzig, and Hoffenheim, a switch between a chain of three and four seems the most likely option.

Tah demanded to close the gaps on the entire pitch "as this is something we as a team have to solve." A solid defense is what makes teams win silverware, he added.

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