Germany seek to continue perfect qualifying campaign in Azerbaijan | National Team | DW | 25.03.2017
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National Team

Germany seek to continue perfect qualifying campaign in Azerbaijan

His team haven't conceded since Euro 2016 and have a perfect World Cup qualifying record but coach Joachim Löw still wants more. An improving Azerbaijan hope to throw a spanner in the works on Sunday.

Joachim Löw has demanded his team maintain their impressive form since Euro 2016 ahead of their latest World Cup qualifier in Baku. Germany are contending with several injuries to key players and a long trip but Löw said that "shouldn't be an excuse."

The World Cup holders have won all four qualifying games this campaign and set a new national team record by keeping a seventh consecutive clean sheet against England on Wednesday. But Löw expects no let up from his players despite the rigors of one of European football's most arduous journeys.

"It is not that easy with a long trip and the time difference, but that shouldn't be an excuse," he said."I am convinced if we go into the game with the right concentration we will also win."

Big guns set to return

Germany went in to the international break missing key men Jerome Boateng and Mauel Neuer and lost Timo Werner and Julian Weigl to injuries after the England game. But captain Sami Khedira, winger Julian Draxler and striker Mario Gomez have all recovered from knocks, leaving Mesut Özil as the only fitness doubt – the Arsenal playmaker sat out Friday's training session with a back complaint but did take some part on Saturday.

On Saturday, Löw confirmed that Gomez will start up front thanks to his impressive goalscoring form for club side Wolfsburg, while Benedikt Höwedes will partner Mats Hummels at center back, but the coach is yet to establish who will replace Neuer between the sticks.

Their opponents on Sunday have improved dramatically of late. As recently as October 2014 they were ranked 126 in the world but have moved up to number 86 since former Croatian international Robert Prosinecki replaced ex-Germany boss Berti Vogts.

Khedira, who is set to win his 70th cap in the fixture, said he "sensed a hunger" in the team and that there would be no complacency against Azerbaijan, who currently sit joint second on points with Northern Ireland in the group.

GES/ Fussball/ Deutschland - England, 22.03.2017

Germany's clean sheet against England was their seventh in a row

"It is not so easy to play here," the Juventus midfielder said. "We are certainly taking the opponent seriously as we take every other opponent seriously."

Azerbaijan look to do more than frustrate

Prosinecki said he believes his aim of qualifying for Russia 2018 to be entirely realistic. Should they make it, next year's World Cup would be Azerbaijan's first appearance at a finals.

He wants his side to "not only defend, but play football," against Germany and says they can "surprise any opponent".

But, for Löw, his team's superior ability should see them through if they perform somewhere near their best.

"I have great faith in my players, we know we can find the right solutions, and if we play the way we can, we will win the game," he said.

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