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Hello and welcome to DW’s build-up and live coverage of Germany’s second game of this Nations League campaign against Switzerland.
After a ten-month, coronavirus-enforced break, international football returned on Thursday as Germany faced Spain in Stuttgart. Timo Werner put the hosts ahead on his return to his hometown, but a 96th-minute equalizer denied Germany all three points.
Joachim Löw’s side now make the short trip to Basel to face Switzerland, who lost 2-1 away to Ukraine in their opener.
Joachim Löw and Leroy Sane faced the media on Saturday evening, with Löw confirming that there are “no major injuries” following the Spain game, that “everyone is fit for tomorrow” and that “Bernd Leno will start in goal.” Kevin Trapp therefore will drop to the bench.
Löw also says the Nations League poses something of a balancing act. “The Nations League is a good competition with tough opponents playing at a high level,” he says. “But, for me, these are also games in which we can try new ideas and learn.”
As for Sane, who appeared to be suffering from cramp towards the end on Thursday, the new Bayern Munich signing insists he is fine. “I feel great and I’m happy to be back on the pitch after my injury.”
Germany have played Switzerland 51 times previously, more than any other nation, and they’ve won on 36 of those occasions – an impressive 70.6 percent win rate.
The vast majority of those games however have been friendlies; this will be only the sixth competitive meeting between the two neighbors.
One has to go back to May 2012 for the last meeting when Switzerland, coached by one Ottmar Hitzfeld, won 5-3 in a dramatic friendly. The German goalscorers in Basel that evening: Mats Hummels, Andre Schürrle and Marco Reus.
Jogi’s back yard – almost
Hailing from Germany’s Black Forest region on the border with Switzerland, Joachim Löw is a familiar face in the Alpine republic, where he lived for six years at the end of his playing career in the early 1990s.
Before completing most of his coaching badges in Switzerland, he also briefly ran a tie business in the country – significantly less successfully than his later role as Bundestrainer.
“Many of my former teammates are still close friends with whom I still keep in contact,” he told Swiss tabloid Blick recently. “That’s not always the case, but these contacts have never broken off.”
Sunday’s game is the second of eight internationals between now and the end of November, a marathon run of home-and-away Nations League ties against Spain, Switzerland and Ukraine, plus friendlies against Turkey (October 7) and the Czech Republic (November 11).
Löw will be therefore forced to rotate, as he did against Spain on Thursday, when Bayern Munich’s Champions League winners were all afforded an extended break.
Other candidates for a rest include Toni Kroos, who played the full 96 minutes against Spain, and Leroy Sane, who pulled up with cramp on his return after a 15-month injury lay-off. “Everyone was gasping for breath,” admitted goalscorer Timo Werner.
Löw has already said that he will “bring in some fresh legs,” referring potentially to midfielder Julian Brandt – an ideal replacement for Kai Havertz who is unavailable due to quarantine regulations after leaving the squad to complete his move to Chelsea.
Niklas Süle has also only recently returned from a knee injury and could foreseeably be replaced by Matthias Ginter in the starting XI.
Questions, questions, questions
Joachim Löw is seemingly well aware of the quandaries facing him, and he posed the questions himself on Saturday:
“How will we start? What changes do we want to make? Where is the risk of injury to a player who hasn’t played for a while? We have to pay attention.”