Speaking on Sport1’s Doppelpass, football pundits Markus Babbel and Friedhelm Funkel expressed enthusiasm over the development of Germany’s current center-back pairing — Niklas Süle and Antonio Rüdiger.
After a tumultuous post-ACL season, Bayern Munich man Süle’s latest upturn in form has been refreshing to watch. The 26-year old has anchored Die Mannschaft’s defense in all five games since Hansi Flick’s appointment as Bundestrainer.
Babbel also credited Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel for Rüdiger’s progress, as the 28-year old matured into a key player for the Blues during their 2020/2021 UEFA Champions League-winning campaign.
“Rüdiger’s development has been phenomenal,” said Babbel. “Under Thomas Tuchel, he has become one of Chelsea’s most important players. It’s the same with Niklas Süle. He was in a horrible state and is now back in the kind of form you want.”
As always, the topic of Süle’s weight was brought into discussion and according to Babbel, the defender looks to have regained optimum fitness level.
“Niklas can kick, after all. But he’s always been three or four kilos overweight,” remarked Babbel. “He looks trained out and also the performances are in tune again.”
Former FC Köln coach Friedhelm Funkel appeared to share the same opinion. The 67-year old believes that Flick could rely on Süle and Rüdiger as his primary center-backs at next year’s World Cup, with veteran Mats Hummels taking a more reserved role.
“It appears that Hansi is counting on these two,” added Funkel. “You have to remember: Both have won the Champions League in the past two years. They are already good players. With these two, we have a pair of central defenders who will play at the World Cup. You have to see what will be with Mats Hummels, whether he can perhaps join as a backup.”