Daily Archives: March 22, 2017

Germany: Lukas Podolski set for fond farewell in England friendly

Published by:

Lukas Podolski will receive a fond farewell when Germany plays England in an upcoming friendly, as the winger grew into one of the country’s greatest players, according to team coach Joachim Low.

Podolski will earn his 130th and final cap and start as captain for the first time in the friendly in Dortmund. Podolski, 31, made his debut for Germany in 2004 and became his country’s third most-capped player and is fourth in the top scorers’ list with 48 goals.

“He is a unique specimen, no one can really replace him,” Low said. “For me it will be a beautiful moment but a sad one because he was one of the greatest players ever to come out of Germany.”

“Lukas and myself have gone a long road together. We have gone over many hurdles, many tournaments, disappointments but also the biggest joy as coach and player with the World Cup victory in 2014. So the stage tomorrow is appropriate. Germany against England is the right atmosphere.”

However, it can be surmised that the friendly could be less revealing of the depths of Germany’s squad as a number of players including Mesut Ozil, Julian Draxler and Mario Gomez will miss the friendly. Die Mannschaft were already without the injured goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, with Low having called up Kevin Trapp as a replacement.

Low said the trio were nursing minor injuries and would need a few days to recover as the world champions taking on Azerbaijan in a World Cup qualifier in Baku.

“Those who will not play tomorrow are Ozil, who has some muscle problems. Julian Draxler has the same injury, an upper thigh muscle,” Low said. “Mario Gomez has an adductor muscle injury and may need a few days.”

Thibaut Courtois adamant on staying at Chelsea

Published by:

Thibaut Courtois dismissed any speculation that he will move to Real Madrid next season, insisting instead that he aims to extend his contract with Chelsea and stay in the Premier League.

Courtois, who spent three seasons on loan in Madrid with Real’s city rivals Atletico, has been Chelsea’s undisputed No1 since taking over for Petr Cech in 2014 while keeping to his No13 kit number.

In recent months, the Belgian international goalkeeper has frequently been linked with a move to the European champions, but in an interview to Spanish radio station Cadena Sur, Courtois said that he can’t imagine life at Real Madrid.

“I don’t see myself at Real Madrid,” he said. “I see myself at Chelsea, the club that six years ago saw me playing in Belgium and gave me the opportunity to sign for them.”

“They also allowed me to be three years at Atletico [Madrid], which helped me to be the keeper that I am now.”

With two years remaining in his contract, Courtois could yet enter talks for contract extension but says that negotiations have yet to begin as Chelsea edges ever closer to Premier League victory.

“At the moment we have not talked about a renewal. Now we are focused on winning the league, even though we have a ten-point advantage. Both the club and the coach want to keep calm now and not think about renewals.”

“We will see at the end of the season if they offer me something. For the time being, there has not been an offer.”

“I’m happy in London and I’m delighted with the success we are having this season.”

Chelsea now leads the Premier League table by 10 points against London rivals Tottenham whom they will also face in the semi-finals of the FA Cup.

Jurgen Klopp unhappy over Ben Woodburn’s international call

Published by:

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp was unhappy at the manner in which Ben Woodburn had been called into the Wales international team.

Woodburn, who became the youngest goalscorer for Liverpool in November, has linked up with Chris Coleman’s squad to begin preparations for their World Cup qualifier against the Republic of Ireland in Dublin on Friday.

Klopp, on the other hand, preferred the Nottingham-born player to stay at Liverpool to continue his development away from the spotlight.

Asked if he had spoken to Coleman about Woodburn’s call-up, Klopp said: “Actually, I was surprised about this. I don’t know exactly how it’s normal here. This should not be a criticism, but usually when you call up a player, a 17-year-old player, I thought it would be possible to call me.”

“I’m not sure if he knows him well. He didn’t play in the team so far for Coleman I think. But no call.”

“I heard the manager said he’s one of the best 23 players in Wales so he needs to be there, so that is his decision — all good,” he added. “But now we are two managers who have to make sure that he develops in the right way, because usually it was more my responsibility and now we can share it a little bit so that is good.”

However, Klopp also conceded that Woodburn could handle the expectations coming with his international call.

“If he stopped learning now, that would make no sense at 17. I’m not in doubt about this. We didn’t hide him, we used him all the time. He’s a fixed part of our training. He can deal with the nomination for Wales 100%.”

“It’s a little bit like my situation. As long as you give me the time, as long as we give him the time, everything will be good.”

“He has to learn, he has to develop, he has to improve, all of this. That’s why I said there are now two managers responsible for him. Until now, it was only my job.”