Thomas Müller and Julian Draxler may be out of favor at their clubs but they remain key figures for the national team as Joachim Löw counts on experience. But midfielder veteran Sami Khedira could be a doubt.
German national coach Joachim Löw and team manager Oliver Bierhoff have backed Thomas Müller and Julian Draxler to overcome their current problems at their respective clubs ahead of Germany’s World Cup 2018 qualifiers against the Czech Republic and Norway this weekend.
Draxler, 23, impressed after joining Paris St Germain from Wolfsburg in January, scoring ten goals in 25 games for the Parisians. But he’s found himself out of favor with coach Unai Emery since the arrival of Brazilian superstar Neymar for a world-record fee, making only two late substitute appearances.
Following the arrival of Kylian Mbappé from Monaco, Draxler could find his opportunities in Paris limited even further, but national team coach Löw still has confidence in the forward.
“Julian isn’t just able to play in one position; he can play other positions too,” he told press outside the German team hotel in Stuttgart. “Whether on the right, left or as a number ten, he can fulfill several different roles.”
This summer, Draxler captained Germany to victory at the Confederations Cup in Russia – a sign of Löw’s confidence and trust in the Schalke youth academy graduate.
“He made a huge step forward at the Confed Cup and I am convinced that he will make it in Paris,” said Löw, also revealing: “I know that they don’t want to sell him. They are obviously convinced of his fantastic qualities. Paris themselves have many goals this season including internationally where they want to be one of the very best.”
Bierhoff backs 'unique' Müller
Löw’s comments followed his backing for Thomas Müller who is enduring his own difficult period at Bayern Munich. On Wednesday, team manager Oliver Bierhoff echoed the coach’s sentiments:
“Thomas Müller is unique,” he told reporters. “I hope Bayern are aware that he is an identification figure for the club. People come to games because of him. He has achieved so much as has so much quality.”
Like Draxler, Müller’s standing remains high with the national team.
“Thomas is a giant for us,” Bierhoff insisted. “Of course you can have a spell at a club like Bayern or with the national team where you don’t play but Thomas is very ambitious. That’s what makes him stand out; he never gives up, he keeps driving forward.”
Experience is key
Despite Germany’s Confederations Cup and U21 European Championship successes this summer, Bierhoff confirmed that the 2018 squad will be built around an experienced core of World Cup winners including Toni Kroos, Mesut Özil, Mats Hummels and Müller.
"They are the basis of the team," he said of the 2014 World Cup winners. "A very strong team can be constructed around them. We're proud of what German football has achieved this summer but the focus is on the World Cup."
Germany will be without midfield veteran Sami Khedira as the Juventus man undergoes further examination on a knee problem which caused him to miss training on Wednesday. Khedira joins Serge Gnabry in the treatment room after the Bayern Munich player, on loan at Hoffenheim, arrived at the team hotel carrying an ankle knock and missed the opening training session.