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Tuesday, October 4, 2022

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    Like Bayern, like the national team: The search for the number 9

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    German football is currently being driven by a question that has occupied German football for quite some time. Except that this time it is not the national team that is affected, but FC Bayern in particular.

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    The overlap in personnel between the two most important German teams is traditionally high, but up until the summer Bayern had Robert Lewandowski, a classic center forward and committed goalscorer, in addition to Neuer, Sané, Müller and Musiala.

    Since the Pole left the club, the Munich team has been confronted with the question of whether they urgently and urgently need a number 9.

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    Hansi Flick, former coach of Bayern, now coach of the national team, knows the subject well enough. “We’ve been discussing this for ages,” he said ahead of the Nations League game this Friday in Leipzig against Hungary (8:45 p.m., live on ZDF). The lack of real centre-forwards has been lamented in the country by Seeler, Müller and Klose for a small eternity. “We don’t have such a high concentration of quality there,” admits Flick.

    So far he has always known how to help himself. After 13 games as national coach, Flick is still unbeaten and the goal difference of 42:8 does not necessarily indicate serious problems in the offensive game. “We already have a lot of opportunities,” says midfielder Joshua Kimmich.

    What the national team doesn’t have with all these options is the classic striker who happily throws himself into the fray in the opposing penalty area. Timo Werner wears the number 9 on his jersey, but thanks to his speed, he tends to look for his way into the penalty area from behind. “We are very happy with Timo Werner because he does a lot of things very, very well,” says Flick. “He showed us that he’s very dangerous.”

    Werner is the top scorer under Flick

    No player has scored as often as Werner in Flick’s almost 13-month tenure. There have been eight goals (in eleven appearances) so far, plus two assists, which also makes the now-again-Leipziger the best scorer of the past season.

    “Strangely enough, things always worked out very well with the national team,” says Werner – even when he was having more and more problems at the club.

    Especially in the phase in which Werner only played a subordinate role at Chelsea, the national coach was an important point of reference for him. “We often spoke on the phone and talked about the current situation,” says the 26-year-old. “The most important thing I heard from him: I should trust in my strengths.”

    In London he was less and less successful in the end, which is why Werner a) returned to Rasenballsport Leipzig this summer after two years and b) the impression was created that the time in the Premier League turned out to be rather disappointing for him.

    “I wouldn’t say disappointing,” replied Werner, referring to winning the Champions League. “It wasn’t difficult for me at first,” he says of his start in London, “but all of a sudden it got pretty tough.”

    Will Flick take a real joker with him to Qatar?

    With his return to Leipzig, Werner hopes not only to find a familiar environment, but also the self-image in his game. So far he has only partially succeeded.

    Four goals in nine competitive games sound more spectacular than they really are. The national player scored three of these goals in the cup against regional league team Teutonia Ottensen. What is more memorable from the first few weeks are the many chances that he missed.

    That’s not new. Just as little as there are doubts that have always surrounded Werner. Hansi Flick also sees room for improvement. Both on the part of his colleagues, who too often miss the right moment to pass him. As well as from Werner himself. “The self-image in front of the goal” could be even greater, Flick thinks. “He has to work on that, should he work on it.”

    Regardless of the high regard that Flick has for Werner, the question remains whether the national coach will take a real, real, classic, typical center forward to the World Cup in two months, which he can bring off the bench when the game is due again stuck. Just as Flick’s predecessor Joachim Löw planned four years ago when he called Nils Petersen, a proven joker type, at least into his provisional squad.

    Bremen’s Niclas Füllkrug, who is currently the most successful German striker in the Bundesliga with five goals, would be considered for this role this year. Flick admits that he is actually dealing with this topic. “It may well be that we take a player with us for that special moment,” he says.

    That could also be due to Timo Werner. So far he has not been able to prove that he is the player for this certain moment. At least not in big tournaments. He did not score a goal in 2018 at the World Cup in Russia nor in 2021 at the European Championship.

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    Source: Tagesspiegel

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