Timo Werner can be "very satisfied" with his development at Chelsea, says Germany head coach Hansi Flick.

The 25-year-old joined Chelsea for a reported €50million (£45m) from RB Leipzig contract ahead of the 2020-21 season.

He endured a difficult debut campaign in English football, though the versatile attacker's 12 goals was the joint-most of any Chelsea player alongside Tammy Abraham.

After initially losing his place in the side this term following the arrival of Romelu Lukaku, Werner has been a starter in Chelsea's last three domestic matches.

With two goals and an assist from eight appearances overall, Flick is pleased with Werner's form in a Chelsea shirt.

"Everyone has to take responsibility and show their own initiative," he said in a news conference ahead of Friday's World Cup qualifier against Romania.

"As for the development of Timo at Chelsea: He can be very satisfied. 

"But of course Chelsea have a team that is not so easy to play for. Kai [Havertz] also experiences that. The team is top-notch and is of great quality. 

"That's why a professional's career means that you have to go through valleys like this."


Werner is part of Germany's squad as Flick's side look to tighten their grip on top spot in World Cup qualification Group J.

Germany won their first three qualifiers under new boss Flick last month, scoring 12 goals without conceding in victories over Liechtenstein, Armenia and Iceland.

That made Flick only the second Germany head coach to win three out of three without conceding to begin his tenure after predecessor Joachim Low. 

Focus now turns to the visit of Romania, who have also not conceded in their last three matches.

"Romania are a team that wants to play football," Flick said. "They have played the last three games without letting a goal in. 

"We have to be very intense and put our opponents under pressure.

"All our players are fit and healthy and we are happy. We have a couple of players for each position, so we are spoiled for choice. We have enormous quality in this squad.

"The atmosphere is good, with the young players fitting in well, and we have trained superbly."

Flick also confirmed at Thursday's pre-match news conference that Antonio Rudiger and Niklas Sule will start in defence against Romania.

Antonio Rudiger is honoured by rumoured interest from Bayern Munich, but the defender is focused only on performing well for Chelsea.

The centre-back has become integral for the Blues since the arrival of Thomas Tuchel, with only Cesar Azpilicueta (2,054) playing more Premier League minutes under the German coach.

No Chelsea player has managed a better tackle success rate than the 71.88 per cent posted by Rudiger, who had struggled for minutes towards the end of Frank Lampard's reign.

However, the 28-year-old's long-term future at Stamford Bridge remains unclear. He is out of contract at the end of the campaign, leading to rumours of a move elsewhere on a free transfer.

Bayern have been one of the clubs linked to Rudiger, who spoke about the speculation while on international duty with Germany.

"It honours you, but I don't allow myself to be distracted too much," he told the media on Tuesday.

"I have certain obligations to my club and that is to perform. But it also shows that you have done a lot right in the past months and years."

Bayern boss Julian Nagelsmann was asked about Rudiger recently and while refusing to discuss the player's possible arrival at the Allianz Arena, he did offer praise for his development.

"I'm not talking about players from other clubs, particularly outside of the transfer window," Nagelsmann said. "But I will speak of him as a football fan: he has developed very well.

"Thomas Tuchel has coached him well. Before he was sidelined at Chelsea, but now he is a crucial player. I can't say anything else.

"Believe it or not, I haven't spoken to Brazzo [Bayern sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic] about it yet. Even if I had, I wouldn't give that away.

"I have to see how long he still has to go on his contract. Then I will see if I have any money in my wallet."

Dayot Upamecano joined Bayern in the previous transfer window, adding to a squad that already boasted Niklas Sule and Lucas Hernandez, plus youngsters Josip Stanisic and Tanguy Nianzou.

Serge Gnabry will "probably" miss Bayern Munich's Champions League opener against Barcelona on Tuesday, according to Hasan Salihamidzic. 

A back problem forced Gnabry off in first-half stoppage time during Bayern's 4-1 victory at RB Leipzig in the Bundesliga on Saturday. 

The 26-year-old started two of Germany's three World Cup qualifiers during the international break and was introduced as a second-half substitute in the other. 

Salihamidzic was frustrated that Gnabry sustained an injury after playing in all those matches, while Borussia Dortmund captain Marco Reus left early with a knee injury but recovered in time to face Bayer Leverkusen this weekend. 

Reus withdrew from selection for Euro 2020 but had said he wanted to play "an important role" for Germany ahead of the three qualifiers. 

"I find it surprising when you leave the national team and then play again a few days later. Our players stay and play anyway," Salihamidzic told Sky. 

"It's not the first time either. When you're injured, okay, you drop out, but otherwise... Serge Gnabry stayed there. He'll probably be out against Barcelona now, but that's just the way it is. 

"If you want to be a leader, you always have to be there. Otherwise, a team won't work. What [Joshua] Kimmich does, what [Manuel] Neuer does, what [Leon] Goretzka does – that's leadership for me. The coach can rely on that." 

On Gnabry's availability to face Barcelona, he added: "It's getting really tight. He's been treated and it's already better. I was there today and saw him. We'll have to see if it's enough." 

However, Bayern could be boosted by the return to fitness of Kingsley Coman. 

Coman withdrew from France duty due to a calf injury and reportedly returned to training in Bavaria on Sunday. 

Bayern boss Julian Nagelsmann is also confident of having Robert Lewandowski available for selection following the striker's early withdrawal against Leipzig for "precautionary reasons".

Germany captain Manuel Neuer says it was important for his side to "set an example again" after winning each of their first three games under new head coach Hansi Flick.

Die Mannschaft eased to a 4-0 win over Iceland in Wednesday's World Cup qualifier to open up a four-point lead at the top of Group J with four matches to play.

That routine victory in Reykjavik followed on from wins over Liechtenstein and Armenia over the past week, with Flick's side scoring 12 goals and conceding none across that spell.

Flick is only the second Germany boss to win his first three games without conceding after Joachim Low, the man he succeeded following his nation's Euro 2020 last-16 exit to England.

On the back of a morale-boosting week for Germany, Neuer believes a marker has now been laid down.

"It's important that we set an example again," he told RTL. "We were dominant and defended well, so of course we are extremely satisfied.

"After these three games we now want to work on our game and set a trend. You have seen across these matches that there is an upward trend. We want to continue like this.

"The teams we have played do not compete in knockout games at major tournament, but you have to set yourself goals as a team and as a professional.

"Of course we have a long way to go, but we have started to send out a positive message."

 

Serge Gnabry's tap-in and Antonio Rudiger's header had Germany two goals ahead inside 24 minutes and Leroy Sane killed off the contest early in the second half.

Timo Werner added a late fourth to make amends for a horror miss earlier in the game as Germany moved a giant step closer to sealing automatic qualification for Qatar 2022.

While happy with what he has seen during his first international window at the helm, former Bayern Munich coach Flick insists there is still more to come from his side.

"Nine points from these games was our goal and we succeeded," he told RTL. "The way we have played is a step forward, though not everything is at one hundred per cent.

"Still, you can't expect that. I am satisfied with what I have seen, but there are a few things we will try to do even better next time."

Rudiger's goal – a powerful header after being picked out by a Joshua Kimmich delivery – was his second for Germany on his 47th appearance.

Not only did Rudiger get on the scoresheet, he also gained possession a joint-high 10 times for his side, level with left-back Thilo Kehrer.

Reflecting on this week's triple-header, Rudiger said: "It was important we got nine points and improved our goal difference.

"Keeping out the opposition each time gives us confidence. But there should have been more goals today. Overall it has been a good week and a half for us."

Germany made it three wins from three under Hansi Flick and tightened their grip on top spot in World Cup qualifying Group J with a routine 4-0 victory over Iceland.

After putting eight unanswered goals past Liechtenstein and Armenia in their opening two games under Flick, Die Mannschaft kept up their positive start in Reykjavik.

Serge Gnabry's tap-in and Antonio Rudiger's header had Germany two goals ahead inside 24 minutes and Leroy Sane killed off the contest early in the second half.

Germany passed up a number of further opportunities before Timo Werner added a late fourth to seal a win that moves his side four points clear of second-place Armenia, who were held to a surprise 1-1 draw by Liechtenstein earlier on Wednesday.

Gnabry opened the scoring after six minutes in the 6-0 win over Armenia three days ago and needed just four minutes to get off the mark against Iceland at Laugardalsvollur.

Joshua Kimmich played in Sane with a pass on the spin and the Bayern Munich winger laid the ball on a plate for club-mate Gnabry to convert from close range.

That goal was allowed to stand after a VAR check for offside and the visitors had a second when Rudiger powerfully headed Kimmich's delivery away from Hannes Halldorsson.

Germany were then given a scare when, moments after Werner missed a one-on-one, Johann Berg Gudmundsson struck the post and Albert Gudmundsson's follow-up was ruled out for offside.

Kai Havertz, brought on for Gnabry at half-time, was next to miss a glorious chance as he slotted wide with just Halldorsson to beat, but Sane thumped a third into the rood of the net to seal the points.

After Leon Goretzka had a goal ruled out for offside it was left to Werner to complete the rout, the Chelsea attacker's shot trickling over the line as he made amends for an earlier horror miss from six yards out.

 

What does it mean? Flick's flying start continues

As far as starts to international coaching go, three wins from three with 12 goals scored and none conceded is just about as good as it gets for Flick.

The calibre of opponent may not have been all that daunting, but Germany have done what was asked of them to overtake Armenia and open up a healthy lead at the top.

Tougher tests lie ahead for Flick, but the transition from the disappointing end to Joachim Low's long tenure has been seamless and Germany's place in Qatar is almost assured.

Kimmich runs the show

Gnabry, Rudiger, Sane and Werner will receive the plaudits for getting their names on the scoresheet, though Kimmich was once again superb for Germany in central midfield.

He was pivotal in the opening goal with his vision, set up the second and played more key passes (four) than any other player on the field.

Wasteful Werner

Werner undoubtedly has his qualities, but he is arguably now better known for his collection of horror misses than world-class goals.

The Chelsea man did manage to score his 19th international goal on his 45th cap, but only after failing to convert a one-on-one and what was effectively an open goal from his four shots in total.

What's next?

Germany host Romania in their next Group J match on October 8, the same day that that Iceland welcome Armenia to Laugardalsvollur.

Hansi Flick was delighted to see Germany show their "enormous quality" as they hammered Armenia 6-0, though Serge Gnabry felt the victory could have been more emphatic.

Germany moved to the top of World Cup qualifying Group J in style in Flick's first home game in charge on Sunday.

Gnabry scored twice in the first 15 minutes before goals from Marco Reus and Timo Werner put the game beyond all doubt by half-time.

Jonas Hofmann and debutant Karim Adeyemi rounded off a rout that thrilled head coach Flick, who was quick to urge his side to stay focused ahead of Wednesday's clash with Iceland.

"I liked this game but on Wednesday we still have a game in Iceland, so the team can be happy with their performance but we have to stay focused," Flick told RTL.

"We have seen that this team has an enormous quality, but what is important is to deliver when it counts."

Flick has won his first two games in charge of Germany, registering a plus-eight goal difference – the best start amongst all Germany coaches after their opening two fixtures.

In UEFA qualification for the 2022 World Cup, only Belgium (10) have scored more first-half goals than Germany (eight), with Gnabry's quick brace leaving Armenia with a mountain they never looked like climbing.

"Compared to the game in Liechtenstein we were more efficient, but we still missed a few chances, we could have scored more goals," said Gnabry. 

"Against Liechtenstein, we had taken three points, but today we are taking the extra euphoria to go to Iceland. 

"Obviously, having led quickly worked in our favour. My two goals are a good feeling when you score and you can help the team."

Germany marked Hansi Flick's first home game in charge in style as they thumped Armenia 6-0 in World Cup qualifying to go top of Group J.

Having suffered a shock 2-1 defeat to North Macedonia in the last round of qualifiers back in March, Germany had found themselves looking up at their less illustrious opponents in the group.

Armenia were unbeaten with 10 points from four games ahead of Sunday's clash in Stuttgart, but Germany, coming off a 2-0 win over Liechtenstein on Thursday, changed that situation in emphatic fashion, Serge Gnabry the undoubted star of the show.

Gnabry scored twice in the opening 15 minutes and Marco Reus and Timo Werner put the result beyond doubt before half-time, with Jonas Hofmann's long-range effort and Karim Adeyemi's goal on his senior debut rounding off a rout.

The players took to the centre circle for a pre-match tribute to Gerd Muller following the Germany legend's death last month, and 'Der Bomber' would surely have been delighted by the attacking football displayed by Flick's side.

A well-worked move on the right concluded with Gnabry lashing home at the near post after latching on to Leon Goretzka's superb pass to open the scoring, and he netted his second from almost the same spot.

Reus' ball in was missed by Werner but Gnabry beat the outstretched leg of David Yurchenko and that trio were too the fore again to make it 3-0 after Leroy Sane's wicked long-range effort clattered the crossbar.

Gnabry lofted a wonderful ball from the right wing towards Werner, whose clever flick was met with a confident first-time finish from Reus.

Goretzka's header across goal teed up Werner for a tap-in for 4-0 in the final minute of normal time in the first half, with more pain for the visitors coming seven minutes after the restart when Hofmann powered home a fifth from outside the box.

Hofmann was only denied his second through a goal-line clearance and Werner was correctly thwarted by the offside flag late on, before Adeyemi capped off another superb attack to make it a debut to remember for him on a night Armenia will quickly want to forget.

Hansi Flick knows Germany must play with more confidence in front of goal after a wasteful performance in what was still a comfortable victory over Liechtenstein.

Germany won 2-0 in Flick's first game as coach on Thursday but would have expected a greater cushion given their dominance.

Flick's team had 30 attempts in total and controlled 85.3 per cent of the possession, though only Timo Werner and Leroy Sane found a way through.

On Sunday, Group J leaders Armenia visit Stuttgart for Flick's first home game since he took over as Germany coach.

"We created three or four good chances at the start; however, we were lacking confidence in front of goal. We need to get that back," Flick said in a pre-match news conference on Saturday, reflecting on the trip to Liechtenstein.

"We coaches are of course not blind either, we are not there to talk things through nicely. In terms of the goalscoring against Liechtenstein, we cannot be satisfied with a result of 2-0.

"At the beginning of a path that you take as a coach with a team, other things are decisive. That was important to me.

"We've got some important games coming up, so it was good to get used to one another. As a result, the starting XI won't change much. Our main aim was nine points from these three matches, and it still is."

With Flick promising few changes, it should mean another start for Werner, who came through the ranks at Stuttgart before moving to RB Leipzig and then Chelsea.

"Sometimes you win a game like that one against Liechtenstein 8-0 because the first few chances go in," said Werner, who is relishing the opportunity to play in his home city.

"On other occasions, however, you only win 2-0. The time will come again where we score two goals from a half-chance.

"Us Swabians are known for being a bit critical, but we love our football. We need to show tomorrow that we're all good players. If we do that, the Stuttgart locals will go home happy."

Germany were comfortable victors in Hansi Flick's first game in charge, and the former Bayern Munich boss was unconcerned by some wasteful finishing.

Timo Werner and Leroy Sane sealed a routine 2-0 win over Liechtenstein in World Cup qualifying Group J on Thursday, though the scoreline hardly reflected Germany's dominance.

After a trophy laden spell at Bayern, Flick left the Bavarian giants to take over as Germany boss, with Joachim Low leaving after Euro 2020.

Flick's team had 30 attempts in total, with seven hitting the target, and controlled 85.3 per cent of the possession.

Not one Liechtenstein player spent more time in Germany's half than their own, while all of the visitors' outfielders had average positions within the minnows' territory.

It nevertheless took some inspiration from youngster Jamal Musiala to unlock the door in the 41st minute, as he teed up Werner, before Sane capped an impressive individual display with a crisp finish late on.

"It took us too long to get our first goal, but it's a process," Flick told RTL. "I won't let this first game ruffle my feathers, there's a long road ahead and we will make our way down it.

"I told the team before the match that Liechtenstein know how to defend well. We created chances, but our opponent defended really well, with 11 players in their area. 

"I can't fault the team at all, they tried, they put the opponent under pressure, but in the end we did not take our chances enough. 

"But I'm positive, we won, and on Sunday we continue against Armenia. We have a long way to go, this was the start and we know where we want to go."

As well as handing Musiala – who he coached at Bayern – a first international start, Flick also introduced teenager Florian Wirtz for his Germany debut, the Bayer Leverkusen midfielder becoming the third-youngest player to appear for the national team since 1945.

While Flick blooded fresh faces, including full-back Ridle Baku, he also turned to the experienced Marco Reus, with Borussia Dortmund's captain recalled after opting out of Euro 2020.   "Our opponents were more or less parked in front of their own goal, so it was very hard to get through," said Reus, who came on as a second-half substitute.   "Our final pass wasn't quite there today, but we can take the three points and go again on Sunday."   Flick's second game in charge sees Germany host Group J leaders Armenia in Stuttgart.

Germany enjoyed a comfortable start to life under Hansi Flick as they ran out 2-0 winners over minnows Liechtenstein in World Cup qualifying Group J. 

Following a trophy laden 18-month stint at Bayern Munich, Flick replaced long-serving Germany coach Joachim Low after Euro 2020. 

Liechtenstein's goal lived a charmed life throughout on Thursday, with it taking until the 41st minute for Timo Werner to break the deadlock. 

The scoreline would have reflected Germany's dominance if not for Liechtenstein's goalkeeper Benjamin Buchel, yet Leroy Sane capped a fine individual display with a terrific strike to ensure there was no chance of a shock comeback. 

Two of Flick's former Bayern players combined in the fourth minute, Sane teeing up Joshua Kimmich, who saw his on-target strike blocked. 

Sane swiftly crafted another chance – Buchel making a fine stop to deny Werner – before Robin Gosens headed Kimmich's wonderful cross against the left-hand upright. 

Germany's opener finally came with their 12th attempt of a one-sided contest, Werner slotting home from Jamal Musiala's flick after a brilliant run from the Bayern youngster.  

Buchel somehow denied Germany a second before the hour, making a fantastic double save to keep out close-range efforts from both Gosens and Ilkay Gundogan. 

Gosens finally seemed set to get his goal with a blistering strike that was destined for the top corner, yet Daniel Kaufmann's brave block summed up a stoic defensive effort from Liechtenstein. 

Their resolve was finally punctured again in the 77th minute by Sane's brilliance, however, as the winger set himself up with some neat footwork before drilling a low finish across Buchel, emphatically making sure of the victory for new boss Flick. 

 

What does it mean? Easy does it for Hansi 

The short trip to Liechtenstein was never likely to present too many issues for Germany, though a stunning defeat would hardly have been the way Flick wished to start his reign. 

Germany, who are second in the group, barely got out of first gear, so there cannot be too many judgements made based on this display. Still, Flick will want his team to be more clinical in future. They ended the game with 85.3 per cent possession and had 30 attempts, albeit just seven were on target, so cannot truly be pleased with only the two goals. 

Buchel keeps things respectable  

With no points and 12 goals conceded from their first four games, there is no doubting Liechtenstein's place as the whipping boys in the group. 

Yet their goalkeeper can come out of this match with his head held high. Buchel made four saves, including a truly excellent stop from Gundogan in the 58th minute – a chance which registered an expected goals (xG) value of 0.51, making it the second-best opportunity of the match after Werner's opener. 

Sane returns to form in style 

It has been a difficult start to the season at Bayern for Sane, who was substituted off at half-time in Julian Nagelsmann's first competitive home game in charge last month. 

However, playing in his preferred position on the left, the former Manchester City winger had plenty of joy on duty for his country. He created a game-leading four chances, all of which were missed by his team-mates, before slamming in a deserved goal for himself. 

What's next? 

Germany host Group J leaders Armenia in Flick's first home game at the helm, while Liechtenstein face Romania, with both matches taking place on Sunday. 

Germany enjoyed a comfortable start to life under Hansi Flick as they ran out 2-0 winners over minnows Liechtenstein in World Cup qualifying Group J. 

Following a trophy laden 18-month stint at Bayern Munich, Flick replaced long-serving Germany coach Joachim Low after Euro 2020. 

Liechtenstein's goal lived a charmed life throughout on Thursday, with it taking until the 41st minute for Timo Werner to break the deadlock. 

The scoreline would have reflected Germany's dominance if not for Liechtenstein's goalkeeper Benjamin Buchel, yet Leroy Sane capped a fine individual display with a terrific strike to ensure there was no chance of a shock comeback. 

Two of Flick's former Bayern players combined in the fourth minute, Sane teeing up Joshua Kimmich, who saw his on-target strike blocked. 

Sane swiftly crafted another chance – Buchel making a fine stop to deny Werner – before Robin Gosens headed Kimmich's wonderful cross against the left-hand upright. 

Germany's opener finally came with their 12th attempt of a one-sided contest, Werner slotting home from Jamal Musiala's flick after a brilliant run from the Bayern youngster.  

Buchel somehow denied Germany a second before the hour, making a fantastic double save to keep out close-range efforts from both Gosens and Ilkay Gundogan. 

Gosens finally seemed set to get his goal with a blistering strike that was destined for the top corner, yet Daniel Kaufmann's brave block summed up a stoic defensive effort from Liechtenstein. 

Their resolve was finally punctured again in the 77th minute by Sane's brilliance, however, as the winger set himself up with some neat footwork before drilling a low finish across Buchel, emphatically making sure of the victory for new boss Flick. 

Thomas Muller and Manuel Neuer have been ruled out of Germany's first match under new head coach Hansi Flick.

Bayern Munich attacker Muller has returned to his club for treatment on an adductor problem, which will see him miss the games with Liechtenstein, Armenia and Iceland over the next week.

Club-mate Neuer has missed training this week with a minor ankle issue, meanwhile, and will be replaced by Bernd Leno in goal for Thursday's meeting with Liechtenstein.

But Flick, who took over as Germany boss following the exit of long-serving Joachim Low, is hopeful of having Neuer back for the visit of Armenia three days later. 

"We assume that 'Manu' will be back for Sunday," Flick said at a news conference on Wednesday previewing the Group J clash with minnows Liechtenstein.

"Everyone could see that he did not take part in practice. He won't be available for the match against Liechtenstein and Bernd Leno will take his place. 

"Thomas Muller will leave the camp. He's got an injury to the adductors. This won't heal fast enough for Sunday or next Wednesday. 

"Wednesday could have actually worked out according to our doctor, but the risk was simply too high. 

"He would not have been able to do a lot of work in practice which is why it makes sense to send him home. We have enough players on board and are able to replace him."

Thursday's match in St. Gallen will be Germany's first without Low in charge since July 2006, the World Cup-winning coach having officially stepped down after his nation's last-16 loss to England at Euro 2020. 

Flick previously worked as Low's assistant for eight years until after Germany's World Cup success in Brazil when leaving to become Die Mannschaft's sporting director.

He has more recently spent time in charge of Bayern and helped the Bavarian giants to seven major honours across two seasons.

The 56-year-old is now tasked with lifting Germany after a disappointing end to the Low tenure, which included a shock 2-1 home loss to North Macedonia in their most recent qualifier five months ago.

"I'm looking forward to my first international game and the responsibility for the nation," said Flick, who has still yet to decide who will captain the side.

"During the first training sessions we saw exactly what we imagined. The team was active and showed enormous intensity and quality. 

"What I liked was that they immediately tried to correct their mistakes, went into pressing straight after a lost ball. The whole coaching staff was extremely happy about that. 

"Those are the things we want to see: a mentality on the pitch where you can see from the beginning that the team is giving everything they have for Germany. 

"This is crucial for me. It was nice to see. That's why we are totally convinced of this team."

Flick is now an established manager in his own right, but he is open to taking inspiration from others as he embarks on his first managerial job on the international stage.

"All players have great coaches. Thomas Tuchel is doing exceptional work at Chelsea, Pep Guardiola at Manchester City, Marco Rose at Borussia Dortmund. I can name them all," he said. 

"All of them have an idea of football which is close to ours. We can implement certain parts in our game to improve. That is crucial. The communication with the coaches is top, I enjoy it very much. 

"We adapt from time to time. The decisive thing is that everyone is open to our idea of football and what we want to play. I was able to see that during the training sessions we've had so far."

Germany are third in Group J after three rounds of matches, level on points with North Macedonia and three points behind surprise pacesetters Armenia, with only the group winner guaranteed a place at Qatar 2022.

The first international break of the 2021-22 campaign has arrived, and with it comes an opportunity for many national teams to start afresh.

Following the conclusion of the Copa America, Gold Cup and Euro 2020 in quick succession, all roads now lead to the 2022 Qatar World Cup.

For a number of players, the September qualifiers provide an opportunity to make an impression, while for others it is potentially a first taste of international football. 

With the games coming thick and fast over the next week or so, Stats Perform has looked at those in contention to make their senior international debuts.

Albert Sambi Lokonga (Belgium)

Belgium's golden generation of talent missed another opportunity to turn promise into something more tangible when losing to eventual winners Italy in the Euro 2020 quarter-finals.

Roberto Martinez has decided against wholesale changes after that disappointment, with Lokonga the only outfield player in line for his first cap, having failed to get further than the bench – against Greece in June – after previous call-ups.

A product of the same Anderlecht youth system that oversaw the development of Romelu Lukaku, Youri Tielemans and Leander Dendoncker, among others, Lokonga sealed a move to Arsenal in July after impressing in the Belgian top flight.

The £15million signing has not had the best of starts to life at Arsenal, the Gunners finding themselves bottom of the English top-flight table having played at least three league matches for the first time since October 1974.

Lokonga, noted for his ability to play in front of the defence, featured in just two of those games yet still trails Granit Xhaka alone in terms of passes (113 to 139) and successful passes (97 to 118) and is behind only Sead Kolasinac for interceptions.

 

Claudinho (Brazil)

Citing concerns over the availability of his European-based contingent due to clubs being reluctant to release players to red-list countries, Tite has named a bloated Brazil squad for this month's triple-header of World Cup qualifiers.

Those complications appear set to deny Raphinha a debut, having impressed during his first year in the Premier League with Leeds United. 

Raphinha ranks seventh in the division for dribbles attempted since the start of last season (142), completing 42.96 per cent of those. He also ranks in the top 10 for chances created over that period with 68.

But Claudinho remains in line to be capped for the first time, called up after helping his country secure Olympic gold at Tokyo 2020.

The midfielder, whose signing at Zenit was announced not long after the Olympic tournament had concluded, described his call-up as "a dream come true".

Theo Hernandez and Moussa Diaby (France)

It is out with the old and in with the new as far as France's first post-Euros squad is concerned – to an extent, at least, with Olivier Giroud one of nine players to make way from the previous group named by Didier Deschamps.

Injuries have also played a part in that, potentially giving a quartet of uncapped players the chance to impress in the upcoming qualifiers with Bosnia-Herzegovina, Ukraine and Finland.

Hernandez, a more natural left-back option than brother Lucas, will feel his first call-up is long overdue following back-to-back campaigns as a regular for Milan, whom he joined from Real Madrid. 

Since making his Rossoneri bow in September 2019, no defender in Serie A has completed more dribbles than Hernandez (133), while only Federico Dimarco (87) and Juan Cuadrado (107) have created more chances than his 86.

Monaco midfielder Aurelien Tchouameni and Roma's Jordan Veretout may also feature during this international break, but perhaps the most exciting of the new additions is Bayer Leverkusen winger Diaby.

The Paris Saint-Germain product scored twice and assisted another in Leverkusen's opening two Bundesliga games of 2021-22, while Alphonso Davies is the only player in the division to have attempted more dribbles this term (24 to his 22).

Known for his blistering pace and ability to take on opponents, Diaby could well provide Deschamps with a different option in an attack already packed full of talent.

 

Otavio (Portugal)

Three new players have been called up by Fernando Santos, who is looking to the future after his Portugal side's reign as European champions came to an end in July.

Goncalo Inacio is injured, but Diogo Costa and Otavio could each make their senior debuts during this international window, with the latter the name on many lips right now.

Otavio has tallied 11 goal involvementss in each of the past two Primeira Liga campaigns for Porto and has made a fast start to the new season with two assists in his first four games.

Since the start of last season, only team-mate Mehdi Taremi has provided more assists (12) in the Portuguese top flight than Otavio's 10, coming from 51 chances created.

The Brazilian-born attacking midfielder was granted Portuguese citizenship earlier this year and will be eager to show that Brazil's loss is very much Portugal's gain should he get some minutes over the next week.

Ricardo Pepi (United States)

The dual-national drama surrounding Pepi appears to have reached a resolution as the FC Dallas forward has seemingly pledged his allegiance to the United States over Mexico.

After breaking into the Dallas side two years ago and featuring regularly last year, 2021 has been quite the season for the El Paso-born youngster.

Pepi, who does not turn 19 until next January, has 11 goals and two assists in 21 games this term and scored the decisive kick in last week's penalty shoot-out win for MLS against their Liga MX counterparts in the All-Star Game.

He has 13 MLS goals in total, the fourth-most ever by a teenager – ahead of Freddy Adu – and just nine short of the record held by Diego Fagundez.

On the basis of the past four months in particular, the USMNT could have a potentially world-class player to lead their line for a number of years to come.

 

Karim Adeyemi (Germany)

For the first time in 17 years, Germany will play a match without Joachim Low in their dugout either as assistant or head coach when they face Liechtenstein on Thursday.

Hansi Flick is tasked with ushering in a new generation of German talents, with help from the old guard, many of whom were key to his successful spell at Bayern Munich.

Away from regulars such as Thomas Muller, Leon Goretzka, Joshua Kimmich and Manuel Neuer, Flick has included four uncapped players in his first squad – David Raum, Nico Schlotterbeck, Florian Wirtz and Adeyemi.

A technically gifted and supremely fast winger, Adeyemi has long been considered one of Germany's most promising young players, having cost Salzburg a reported €3m when he was 16.

Adeyemi, who left Bayern six years earlier, has been given the chance to spread his wings with Salzburg and has been strongly linked with Red Bull sister club RB Leipzig.

He already has six goals in six Austrian Bundesliga appearances this term, just one less than he managed in 29 top-flight appearances last time out – a return he will be looking to build on if he is given the nod by Flick.

Justin Bijlow (Netherlands)

The Netherlands are another European heavyweight going through a transitional period of sorts after turning to veteran coach Louis van Gaal for a third stint in charge.

Frank de Boer failed to get the most out of this talented Dutch squad and already Van Gaal has put his own mark on the team by calling up a few newbies.

There will be plenty of focus on the goalkeeping position as, with Jasper Cillessen not fully fit and Maarten Stekelenburg recently retiring, Joel Drommel and Bijlow can stake a claim to be the long-term number one.

Bijlow is considered one of the finest young goalkeepers in Europe and already has 45 Eredivisie games under his belt for Feyenoord, where he is a real fan favourite.

The 23-year-old has kept 15 clean sheets across those appearances and boasts a save percentage of 72.16. Van Gaal can seemingly rely on the young stopper, as he has made just one error leading to a goal.

Hansi Flick has handed three players their maiden international call-ups as he named his first squad as Germany coach for next month's World Cup qualifiers.

Flick ended an 18-month, trophy-laden spell at Bayern Munich in order to take over from Joachim Low as Germany boss after Euro 2020.

Germany reached the last 16 of that tournament, crashing out to England at Wembley.

World Cup-winning midfielder Toni Kroos has since retired from international duty, though the rest of Germany's squad remains largely intact.

Liechtenstein, Armenia and Iceland represent Flick's first opponents, and he has given Karim Adeyemi, Nico Schlotterbeck and David Raum their first call-ups.

The squad, as would be expected given Bayern's dominance of German football, includes eight players from Flick's former club, while Borussia Dortmund attacker Marco Reus has earned a recall after opting out of Euro 2020.

Thomas Muller – who was ostracised by Low before being recalled for Euro 2020 – Serge Gnabry, Leroy Sane, Jamal Musiala, Joshua KImmich, Leon Goretzka, Niklas Sule, and Manuel Neuer make up the Bayern contingent.

Wolfsburg's exciting right-back prospect Ridle Baku, who has made one friendly appearance for Germany, has also returned to the fold, as has Bayer Leverkusen youngster Florian Wirtz.

Paris Saint-Germain defender Thilo Kehrer is something of a surprise inclusion, while Dortmund's Mahmoud Dahoud has been given the chance to impress in Kroos' absence.

Mats Hummels misses out through injury, while Matthias Ginter recently tested positive for coronavirus.

Germany squad in full:

Bernd Leno (Arsenal), Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich), Kevin Trapp (Eintracht Frankfurt); Ridle Baku (Wolfsburg), Robin Gosens (Atalanta), Lukas Klostermann (RB Leipzig), David Raum (Hoffenheim), Antonio Rudiger (Chelsea), Niklas Sule (Bayern Munich); Leon Goretzka (Bayern Munich), Ilkay Gundogan (Manchester City), Jonas Hofmann (Borussia Monchengladbach), Joshua Kimmich (Bayern Munich), Florian Neuhaus (Borussia Monchengladbach), Florian Wirtz (Bayer Leverkusen); Karim Adeyemi (Salzburg), Serge Gnabry (Bayern Munich), Kai Havertz (Chelsea), Thomas Muller (Bayern Munich), Jamal Musiala (Bayern Munich), Marco Reus (Borussia Dortmund), Leroy Sane (Bayern Munich), Timo Werner (Chelsea).

Chelsea star Kai Havertz has made a €200,000 donation to launch a German Red Cross flood crisis fund after being stunned by the extent of the tragedy.

The North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate regions were severely affected in July, with over 180 deaths recorded and shocking levels of structural damage caused.

Now Germany international Havertz, who hails from Aachen in North-Rhine Westfalia, has expressed sorrow and concern at his homeland being susceptible to such devastating events.

Havertz will also auction off special edition Nike football boots to boost financial support for the relief effort, he said, with 100 pairs produced. He is also urging others to make cash donations to the fund.

The 22-year-old told Bild he spoke to the German Red Cross about what could be done, saying: "It is important for me to show my support to people: I grew up in the area.

"The pictures of the flood were just terrible to look at. The disaster was only a few weeks ago, but something has already disappeared from the consciousness of many people, you don't really know how those affected are doing there.

"That's why it was important to me to help people. Even if the water may be gone: there are still many without electricity, without a roof over their heads, without clothes. People just lost everything. Friends of friends are affected, the whole thing is very close, tangible."

Extreme levels of rainfall led to the flooding which also affected other countries in central Europe, with Belgium among those hit hard.

Havertz, who scored the winning goal in last season's Champions League final against Manchester City, said it was easy to allow such shocking events to be overtaken in the public eye as the cycle of news moves to the next major story. But his view is that with the flooding, everything should be done to avoid this happening while many continue to suffer.

Ahead of his team's match at Arsenal on Sunday, Havertz hopes his rallying call for the German floods cause is heard.

The former Bayer Leverkusen attacker added: "When natural disasters happen, you notice it and pay attention for a moment, but maybe lose sight of it again.

"The natural disaster on my doorstep changed my thinking. This is not a hurricane in Florida, it happened here, in the middle of Germany."

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