This is what passes for a topspiel in the international break. With Germany and Armenia making up the top-two in their qualifying group at the moment, Hansi Flick has a strong chance to right the wrongs of his predecessor and claim top spot. Armenia, however, are made of sterner stuff than Liechtenstein, so it promises to be a less one-sided affair than Wednesday’s match.
Flick confirmed that Manuel Neuer is back in training and fit to play, while Kai Havertz is out with a cold. Robin Gosens will also definitely miss the game with injury, though he could be back before the international break ends. Meanwhile, Thomas Muller was sent home earlier in the week due to adductor problems — he definitely won’t make it for this one.
With that in mind, how might Germany line up? Well, this is as good a time as any to put Marco Reus in the starting XI, keeping in mind that he didn’t start against Liechtenstein. While Jamal Musiala would be the ideal player to replace Havertz in the #10 role, Reus is also perfectly capable, and Hansi has too many attackers on his roster to not rotate them aggressively.
Joining Reus would likely be Timo Werner up top, with Leroy Sane and Serge Gnabry on the flanks. This is not as clear-cut as Reus’ inclusion, but Hansi did mention all three players in his press conference, so you can assume that they’ll start based on that.
In midfield, Leon Goretzka might return to the lineup next to Joshua Kimmich, and the duo should at least expect 60 minutes together on the pitch against Armenia. As a Bayern fan, I’d rather see Kimmich rested for a game or two, but Hansi doesn’t really have a proper replacement for him so he may play anyway.
In defense, David Raum is likely to come in for Gosens at left-back, while Ridle Baku will likely get another shot at the right-back position. Both will be expected to bomb forward and attack the flanks — a far cry from the careful possession-based system Low started using in his later days. At center-back, Niklas Sule is likely to keep his spot, and may be joined by Antonio Rudiger this time. Kehrer got an outing versus Liechtenstein, but the Chelsea man should still be above him in the pecking order overall.
So what will the lineup look like? Well here’s a prediction:
With Germany winning against Liechtenstein, Hansi Flick is off to a strong start in his stint as the national team coach. Now, the Germans are set to host Armenia, who currently sit at the top of Group J. With Bayern Munich captain Manuel Neuer set to return for this one, we hope to see Hansi continue experimenting with his lineup to find the right combination before the next World Cup.
Here are the talking points before the game:
- How missing Thomas Muller hurts Germany right now.
- The search for a striker and why the false 9 system is a stopgap.
- Hansi out to prove that Timo Werner and Kai Havertz should’ve been signed by Bayern.
- Why Robin Gosens could be replaced on the lineup.
- Some experiments to look forward to.
Here’s the predicted XI from Sport1, based on what they saw in training. It includes a full reshuffle at fullback, with Jonas Hoffman and Thilo Kehrer at right and left-back respectively.