Germany wary of Hungary's 'enormous power'

BERLIN - Germany go into Friday's Nations League clash with Hungary in Leipzig well aware of their opponents' quality, having been held 1-1 in Budapest in the summer.

Sitting behind Hungary in second in their group, Germany will have to face the Hungarians missing four first-team players - captain Manuel Neuer, forward Marco Reus, as well as midfielders Leon Goretzka and Julian Brandt.

Borussia Dortmund captain Reus went down injured in his side's 1-0 win over Schalke on Saturday, while Neuer and Goretzka (both Covid-19) and Brandt (flu) were ruled out on Wednesday.

Borussia Monchengladbach midfielder Jonas Hofmann, who scored in the 1-1 draw, said Germany needed to prepare for an aggressive and organised opponent.

"Hungary have a team that acts with enormous power, that goes through with their plan for 90 minutes plus stoppage time," he said on Wednesday.

"We didn't have many chances there (in Budapest) and that says a lot. (We must) play purposefully and consistently in Leipzig on Friday night in order to get to the opposition's goal as soon as possible."

West Ham United defender Thilo Kehrer added that his German teammates were wary of their "unpleasant opponents".

"They are unpleasant opponents, we noticed that, but so are the Italians and the English. They will come with a lot of commitment and will," he said.

Germany coach Hansi Flick is hopeful RB Leipzig striker Timo Werner, who will play in front of his home crowd, can convert his opportunities into goals.

"He always creates chances in front of goal. He frees himself up skilfully," Flick said.

"Improving his efficiency in the weeks leading up to the World Cup would be good for him and for us."

Werner, who grabbed two goals in Germany's 3-1 win over Ukraine in Leipzig in 2020, has scored only once in six Bundesliga games since he moved from Chelsea in August.

The biggest surprise from Flick's recent squad announcement was the inclusion of uncapped defender Armel Bella-Kotchap, who was named in the squad ahead of several experienced players, including Dortmund's Mats Hummels and Bayer Leverkusen's Jonathan Tah.

Bella-Kotchap joined Southampton in the summer after impressing for VfL Bochum, whom he helped in their promotion to the Bundesliga last term, and has played six games in the Premier League this season.

While the 20-year-old represented Germany at junior levels, he was not expecting a call-up for the Nations League, saying he "didn't know the number" when Flick rang him to tell him the news.

"I was very surprised, but also very happy," Bella-Kotchap said.

Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuttl had pushed for his player's selection and Flick said the Austrian had told him he had "shown the most consistent performances so far" out of everyone in his Saints squad.

AFP

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 23, 2022, with the headline Germany wary of Hungary's 'enormous power'. Subscribe