The last time I talked with Lothar Matthäus about his column for our magazine, the record national player brought me to a, for me, completely surprising idea which was that it could be over after the preliminary round, yet . „The key game will be against Cameroon“, Matthäus says. And the longer I think about it, the more I realize how right Lothar is.
Since the Confed Cup 2005 I am used to stay with the national team until the semi-finals in the big tournaments. Australia, Chile and Cameroon are the opponents, of which they have to leave, at least, two behind them. „We should not forget about the last time we played against Australia in Kaiserslautern where we could only achieve a score of 2-2 in the end“, says Shkodran Mustafi, while we were sitting together in the DFB-accommodation. I remember that Germany had a lot of luck at the opening match in 2015 where Lukas Podolski could score for the equalize. As in the last two games, Jogi Löw tested the three-chain in the defense. For me is Chile the favourite in the tournament, Africa champions Cameroon is difficult to assess. As „Musti“, as you may call him, and I discuss the constellations, I hear someone saying in my back, „Ah, the SPORT BILD, I won’t talk with them.“ I turn around and see Sandro Wagner, who is on his way to the interview with the „Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung“. I already can imagine what it is about. When we met in the elevator I talk to him nevertheless. „Sandro, is there a problem?“ Wagner laughs: „No, no, no problem, it was just fun“, he replies, but then he added: „However, the mark 5 which you gave me in the match against Denmark, I didn’t like so much. But it isn’t important…“ Of course it is important. The national player follow the marks very closly. Often, they are the reason that a professional doesn’t talk to a medium. No matter what the players say: The marks are important to them!
I gave Wagner a 5, because the connection between him and the German play was still missing and in front of the goal he was too hectic and unsteady. Just like his partner in the offens, Lars Stindl (also mark 5). „Granted, I was very critical“, I say to Sandro, at whom I was struggling a long time between mark 4 and 5. „The good thing about it is that you can improve this mark in the next games, maybe it even motivates you.“ Wagner laughs. „This is the way you see that, ok“. He smiles, saying good-bye. Sandro is a type of player which I really like. Clear in his opinions and self-confident enough to represent them. Not somebody, who after criticism puts in his head offendedly, but wants the conversation. A few days later, he makes his first three goals against San Marino – and for that he earns the SPORTBILD-mark 1.
At the Confed Cup, the next generation will show whether they have the strength to keep Germany permanently in the semifinals. Looking at this aspect I will distribute the marks. Whoever carries the eagle on his chest must be aware of the fact that they are measured by the jersey the wear. Not by standards, which are used at Bundesliga clubs like Hoffenheim, Gladbach or the Hertha.
I have not booked my return flight, yet.