He had announced that he would try something new and bring in players who should be given space to present themselves to the German national team. As is well known, Hansi Flick, the national coach, followed his words with action last Friday. With Mergim Berisha, Kevin Schade, Marius Wolf, Josha Vagnoman and Lukas Nmecha, he called up five newcomers to the squad for the international matches on March 25 against Peru and three days later against Belgium.
It is obvious that nominations lead to debates. There is approval, there is criticism. In this case, the latter predominated, as Flick called up players – with the exception of Wolf and Berisha, as they recently played well at BVB and FC Augsburg – who didn’t necessarily know how to convince, let alone were always the first choice.
Lothar Matthäus, who has been a sought-after expert in the industry for years, was surprised, also given that Flick, in Thomas Müller, Leroy Sané, Niklas Süle, Ilkay Gündogan and Antonio Rüdiger, will not have five established players in the upcoming international double pack.
“You have to ask Hansi himself what he was thinking. Do the players want a break? Do you need a break? These Süles, Sanés, and whatever their names are. Müller and Gündogan were already gone from the start, but I still believe that the national team has to be something special,” said Matthäus on Sky and looked at the home EM 2024 in his squad analysis: “It’s up to I think 12 games at the European Championship and important players are now missing. Now there are people who you don’t really know and who don’t have the regular place in the club that you should have to be nominated for the national team.”
The debate about Flick’s nomination is fueled by the current matchday, because three out of five newcomers were not in the starting XI in their clubs. Erik Meijer, a longtime professional and also a Sky expert, said about the Stuttgart Vagnoman: “I was wondering why. But I like to be surprised.” Dietmar Hamann wants to do the same. The otherwise very critical Champions League winner of 2005 praised Berisha and Schade. You deserve to be there. “I hope they can develop. I think it’s good that some of the older ones aren’t there.”
Just believing that all five newcomers can make a lasting impression is still a bit difficult – only one made it this weekend.
Marius Wolf, 27: The right-back was in BVB’s starting XI. Wolf, who was temporarily out of action shortly before Christmas due to an imbalance and therefore had to have heart surgery, is having a strong season. He played through the 6-1 win over 1. FC Köln. Wolf ran eleven kilometers, including 26 sprints. He had 98 ball contacts.
Mergim Berisha, 24: The Augsburg striker has scored eight goals and four assists this season. He didn’t have his best day in the 1-1 draw against Schalke. He was substituted in the 74th minute, having previously had one shot on target and only 14 touches.
Josha Vagnoman, 22: In the 0-1 draw against VfL Wolfsburg, the VfB Stuttgart defender only came on in the 62nd minute. Before that, he had remained in the squad in four out of six games without being used. “Of course it also came as a surprise to me,” said the 2021 U21 European champion after the defeat against VfL. The 22-year-old was originally intended for the U21 squad, reported VfB trainer Bruno Labbadia and talked about his phone calls with Flick. Vagnoman, who was out for a long time in the first half of the season due to bone edema, has now been injury-free for a long time and is therefore ready for the tasks ahead. He hopes that his substitute can gain match practice with the national team and bring a positive experience back to Stuttgart, said the VfB coach. “We can really use that,” said Labbadia: “It’s not that easy to get match practice at a club that’s currently playing for relegation. Sometimes you have to choose stability.”
Felix Nmecha, 22: The VfL Wolfsburg attacking midfielder played until the 75th minute of the game in Stuttgart before being substituted. He touched the ball 40 times and made 22 passes. In 21 games this season, he has four assists and two goals. Nmecha said after the win at VfB that he hadn’t expected a call from the national coach. “I was just praying in my room. Then I got the call, it was a big moment for me. I didn’t know the number yet. It was a bit of a shock for me.”
Kevin Schade, 21: The Brentford striker came on as a substitute in the 61st minute of the 1-1 draw against Leicester City on Saturday. He only had ten ball contacts. Since moving from SC Freiburg during the winter break, he has played a total of 187 minutes in eight games and has had five shots on goal. He has so far been denied a goal. Schade is fast, very sure of the ball. He is on loan until the end of the season, but a follow-up contract until 2028 has already been negotiated. Freiburg is said to be waving a fee of up to 25 million euros – for a player whose star rose in the 2021/22 season. Schade made a total of 21 appearances, seven of which he was in the starting lineup. He scored four goals.
It remains to be seen whether a first goal will follow for the German national team. Preparations for the two upcoming games begin on Monday afternoon with public training at the Brentanobad stadium.