Germany will be hoping to kick off the Hansi Flick era with a win when they face off against Liechtenstein in the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers this week.

The Road to the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar resumes this week and it will also bring in the dawn of a new era for the German national football team as they bid goodbye to Joachim Low and usher in Hansi Flick as the new manager. And Die Mannschaft will be looking to kickstart this fresh chapter in an auspicious manner when they lock horns with minnows Liechtenstein at the Kybunpark in St. Gallen, Switzerland on Thursday night.

Germany began the qualifying campaign on a strong note with wins over Iceland (3-0) and Romania (1-0), before succumbing to a shock defeat to North Macedonia, which has left them in third place in Group J, three points behind leaders Armenia. It was followed by a rather underwhelming run in the UEFA Euro 2020, where they were dumped out at the Round of 16 stages by England, bringing an end to Low’s time as manager.

Flick, who spent eight years as Low’s assistant, before going on to achieve great success as the manager of Bayern Munich winning seven major trophies, will be aiming for similar heights with the national team, starting off with a win in his debut game as the Bundestrainer.

Liechtenstein, meanwhile, are rooted to the bottom of the standings in Group J, having lost each of their three qualifying games so far against Armenia, North Macedonia and Iceland, conceding ten goals while scoring just one. The minnows were then hammered 7-0 by Switzerland and 5-1 by the Faroe Islands in friendlies in June.

Manager, Martin Stocklasa, will be hoping to avoid yet another huge defeat when he takes his team to Switzerland to face the Germans. Although, things don’t really look good for the Blues-Reds, who are in the 189th position in FIFA World rankings. Ahead of this proper David vs Goliath encounter on Thursday, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both teams.

Team News & Tactics

Liechtenstein

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Liechtenstein manager Martin Stocklasa has called up as many as nine uncapped players to the squad for this upcoming set of international fixtures, including an 18-year-old forward in Phillipp Gassner. Captain Nicolas Hasler is back in the thick of things after having missed the last round of matches due to injury.

The hosts are expected to set up in a 5-3-2 formation in order to try and stifle the German attack, with Benjamin Buchel manning the goal. Shielding him should be the three-man defensive unit of Andreas Malin, Daniel Kaufmann and Jens Hofer. Seyhan Yildiz and Maximilian Goppel ought to be the two full-backs, who will stay tight to the centre-backs and try to deprive their opposition of any space to work with.

Captain Hosler should be a certain starter in the middle of the park, along with the 34-year-old Martin Buchel, who is the most experienced player in the current Liechtenstein squad with 88 caps. The duo will largely stay behind the ball and look to support the defensive personnel, with Noah Frommelt also providing support.

Finally, up top, it will the duo of Noah and Yannick Frick, the sons of Liechtenstein’s all-time leading goalscorer Mario Frick, who will look to cause problems to the German backline on rare occasions when their team have the ball.

Probable Lineup (5-3-2): Buchel; Yildiz, Malin, Kaufmann, Hofer, Goppel; Hosler, Buchel, Frommelt; Noah Frick, Yannick Frick

Germany

Hansi Flick’s first selection of squad has been largely dominated by Bayern Munich players, with as many as eight Die Roten stars making the cut. However, one of them, Thomas Muller, has now been ruled out due to adductor problems. There are call-ups for Marco Reus, Mahmoud Dahoud of Borussia Dortmund while PSG’s Thilo Kehrer also makes an appearance.

Under-21 European Champions David Raum, Nico Schlotterbeck, Ridle Baku, Florian Wirtz and Karim Adeyemi also find favour under the new Germany manager. Marc-Andre ter Stegen is a notable absentee having only recently returned from an injury at Barcelona. Having largely favoured a 4-2-3-1 formation during his time at Bayern, Flick is expected to continue with the same shape with the national team.

Manuel Neuer, though, is ruled out due to an ankle issue, meaning Bernd Leno ought to get the nod between the sticks on Thursday. Baku, meanwhile, should get the nod at right-back from where he will be encouraged to push forward on a regular basis, something that Robin Gosens will consistently do on the left. Niklas Sule and the in-form Antonio Rudiger ought to start as the two centre-halves.

Joshua Kimmich is one of the best midfielders in the game currently and becomes an obvious inclusion in the middle of the park. His ability to pick out defence-splitting passes will be key for Germany on Thursday. He is likely to be partnered by club teammate Leon Goretzka who will make powerful forward forays to add numbers in the final third.

Leroy Sane and Serge Gnabry are pretty much automatic picks out on the flanks and will carry a major threat with their pace and guile. Jamal Musiala reaped the benefits of Flick’s coaching at Bayern, but might have to settle for a place on the bench against Liechtenstein with Kai Havertz likely to slot in as the No. 10 in Muller’s absence while Timo Werner leads the line.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Leno; Baku, Sule, Rudiger, Gosens; Kimmich, Goretzka; Sane, Havertz, Gnabry; Werner

Key Stats

  • This will be the fifth meeting between Germany and Liechtenstein (including friendlies). Die Mannschaft have won each of the previous four with an aggregate scoreline of 27-3.
  • Germany, however, have won just two of their last seven fixtures (D2 L3).
  • Liechtenstein, meanwhile, are without a win in their last nine games (D2 L7), with their most recent victory coming in October last year against Luxembourg.

Player to Watch

Timo Werner

In need of inspiration (Photo by Maja Hitij/Bongarts/Getty Images)

In need of inspiration (Photo by Maja Hitij/Bongarts/Getty Images)

It has been a difficult year for Timo Werner despite having been part of the UEFA Champions League winning team with Chelsea. The 25-year-old has struggled to produce the goods in front of goal and has been guilty of missing gilt-edged chances for the Blues, as well as the German national team.

With Chelsea having recruited Romelu Lukaku, Werner’s prospects of regular starts have taken a huge hit. And, for him to force his way back into Thomas Tuchel’s thoughts, he must make the most of whatever opportunities that come his way, starting from the international break. A good run would not only help him establish himself as Flick’s go-to man with Die Mannschaft but could also have a positive impact on his club career.

Prediction

Liechtenstein 0-5 Germany

Liechtenstein have conceded 12 goals in their last two matches against lesser opponents than Germany. So, anything other than a mauling would be very much a surprise outcome in Switzerland on Thursday. The game provides Hansi Flick the perfect opportunity to make a winning start in his new job and the question will be how many do the Germans hit the minnows for. The Hard Tackle is predicting a 5-0 win.

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