Hansi Flick is hoping to maintain his hundred percent winning record as Germany take on Liechtenstein on Thursday.

We are set for the season’s third international break as club football once again goes into a two-week hiatus to make way for the 2022 World Cup qualifying campaigns.

Last month, Germany had become the first nation to secure qualification for the 2022 World Cup by crushing North Macedonia 4-0. Thanks to the leadership of the newly-appointed Hansi Flick, Die Mannschaft have strolled through Group J with 21 points collected in just eight matches.

Five of Germany’s seven wins in the qualifying campaign have come under Flick, who will be hoping to preserve his hundred percent winning record when his side takes on Liechtenstein on Thursday at the Volkswagen Arena.

The former Bayern Munich coach initially started his journey as a Germany manager against the same opposition in early September, with his team securing a 2-0 victory. It wasn’t the most clinical performance, but the three points would go on to start a winning momentum that has helped Germany secure qualification for next year’s tournament.

As for Liechtenstein, they are dawdling at the bottom of the group with just one point in eight matches. They will be hoping to avoid any humiliation and sign off the qualifying campaign on a positive note. And here, at The Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over these two sides ahead of their encounter in Wolfsburg this midweek.

Team News & Tactics

Germany

Hansi Flick is facing a major dilemma heading into this game as three players, including Julian Draxler, Nico Schlotterbeck and Florian Wirtz, have opted out due to injuries while Niklas Sule has tested positive for COVID-19.

After the diagnosis of the Bayern defender, the German health authority has ordered four more players in Joshua Kimmich, Serge Gnabry, Karim Adeyemi and Jamal Musiala to move into quarantine due to close contact. It leaves Flick devoid of options, especially in the attack, where the further absence of Timo Werner should see Lukas Nmecha spearheading the German attack.

The former Man City forward will be hoping to impress in front of his home fans, while additional support should be provided by Thomas Muller, Leroy Sane and Julian Brandt. Ridle Baku is an option as well, after being called in as one of the replacements for the injured players.

In midfield, Flick might want to opt for the strongest possible combination, which means Ilkay Gundogan could pair up alongside Leon Goretzka. Both the players need to step up in the absence of Kimmich, although Flick has no shortage of alternatives, including the highly-talented Florian Neuhaus.

Defensively, Germany are expected to go with a traditional four at the back system, with Jonas Hofmann and David Raum serving as full-backs. Matthias Ginter is likely to start in central defence, in the absence of Sule, partnering with Antonio Rudiger. They will be hoping to cover Manuel Neuer in goal and register a clean sheet.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Neuer; Hofmann, Ginter, Rudiger, Raum; Gundogan, Goretzka; Sane, Muller, Brandt; Nmecha

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Liechtenstein

Liechtenstein put up an excellent fight when these two teams last met each other back in September. Their sturdy 5-3-2 formation served them well, with Benjamin Buchel serving in goal, behind the defensive cover of the back five led by Daniel Kaufmann, Andreas Malin and Jens Hofer.

Sandro Wolfinger and Maximilian Goppel usually serve as wing-backs, although they are set to be tasked with the job of aiding the three central defenders. It will be interesting to see how they respond to Germany’s efficient system that sees the full-backs march forward, providing the width in the attack.

A bigger issue for Liechtenstein is to prevent their opposition from controlling the midfield. That is where captain Nicolas Hasler could play a vital role, forming the team’s second line of press alongside Noah Frommelt and Aron Sele.

As for the attack, head coach Martin Stocklasa is expected to deploy the two Frick brothers in Yanik and Noah. They boast impressive pace and are capable of taking the German defence by surprise.

Probable Lineup (5-3-2): Buchel; Wolfinger, Malin, Kaufmann, Hofer, Goppel; Sele, Frommelt, Hasler; N. Frick, Y. Frick

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Key Stats

  • Hansi Flick has equalled predecessor Joachim Löw’s national record of winning his first five games as Germany coach. His side has scored 18 and conceded just once since his debut in charge in the 2-0 victory over Liechtenstein.
  • Serge Gnabry is enjoying working with his former manager at Bayern in the national team setup, having scored four goals in five matches under Flick.
  • Thomas Müller has registered 40 goals and 39 assists in 108 appearances for Germany.
  • Germany have won seven of their eight matches in Group J. Only North Macedonia (2-1) have managed to get a result against the four-time world champions.
  • Germany and Liechtenstein have met three times previously in World Cup qualifying, with Die Mannschaft winning all three with 12 unanswered goals.

Player to Watch

Julian Brandt

By far, the most interesting inclusion in Hansi Flick’s Germany team this month is Julian Brandt. It appears the former Bayer Leverkusen starlet has been rewarded for his excellent form for Borussia Dortmund, having played a vital role during the club’s ongoing injury crisis.

Brandt has showcased his versatility and creative prowess by being heavily involved in Dortmund’s most recent goals. And he will be hoping to keep up the momentum in the German national team and make a late revival after falling out of favour in recent years.

Alongside Brandt, there are a couple of more interesting players worth looking forward to, including Nmecha, who will be playing in front of his home supporters at Wolfsburg, while Maxi Arnold is hoping to seize his opportunity in midfield.

Prediction

Germany 3-0 Liechtenstein

Germany weren’t at their best when they last faced Liechtenstein. However, it was largely due to their lack of productivity upfront, with players missing several key opportunities throughout the game. Their form in front of goal has improved since and despite having key players out, we are expecting Die Mannschaft to fully dominate this game and come out as 3-0 victors.

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