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SV Werder Bremen vs Hertha BSC Berlin
Image: Kokenge/Nordphoto/IMAGO

Could Niclas Füllkrug be Germany's secret weapon in Qatar?

October 29, 2022

Werder Bremen’s late winner versus Hertha Berlin came courtesy of a familiar source. Niclas Füllkrug’s fine header was his ninth league goal this season — and strengthens his case for a spot in Germany’s World Cup squad.


Niclas Füllkrug has never played a senior game for Germany, the Bundesliga journeyman always overlooked at senior level as an option for leading the line.

For good reason, one could argue. Füllkrug doesn't fit the mould of the young, quick, and nimble forward that Flick wants to build his team around for the future. And until this season, Füllkrug's scoring record was respectable but not top class. His best season was in 2017/18 with Hannover, when he scored 14 in 34. He's already closing in on that record, with nine in 12 for Werder Bremen this season – the most recent of which came on Friday night in a 1-0 win over Hertha Berlin.

With Werder Bremen and Hertha drifting towards a goalless draw, Füllkrug met Anthony Jung's floated ball with an expert header that flew in under the bar, giving Oliver Christensen, in the Hertha goal, barely a chance. It was the little moment of class that the game needed to break the deadlock to turn one point into three.

Niclas Füllkrug the solution to Germany's striker problem?

The goal was classic Füllkrug, and despite the reservations about his suitability to international football, his club coach Ole Werner and captain Milos Veljkovic sang their matchwinner's praises. "'Fülle' possesses a very rare weapon with his heading in the penalty area," said Werner, while Veljkovic went a step further, calling him "world class".

'Not out of the question'

It was another vital goal for Füllkrug's team, and the kind of goal that he excels in. He scored a late winner earlier this month at Hoffenheim and two in the final five minutes last month at Bochum. In short, he's the kind of player that could prove valuable to Germany, should they find themselves in need of a goal in a tight World Cup match in Qatar. According to Flick's assistant, Danny Röhl, Füllkrug is not out of their thoughts.

"If we need someone for the last 20 minutes who is a penalty area striker and always good for a goal, he is of course an option,” Röhl said recently, before adding: "It's not out of the question that we take someone who hasn't played a minute, but it would be desirable if at least one game had been played”. He went on to explain that any decision to bring in new players is "not only the tactical but also interpersonal."

Niclas Füllkrug in action for Germany's U20s in 2014
Füllkrug's last appearance for Germany was in 2014 for the U20s - he has never played for the senior team.Image: Bongarts/Getty Images

Roughly "two thirds" of Flick's initial 26-man Germany squad has been decided according to Röhl, with the final slots dependent on players recovering from injury – Florian Wirtz and Lukas Klostermann are edging closer to comebacks – and the other places favoring "hybrid" players, capable of playing multiple positions. That doesn't really help center-forward Füllkrug but he does bring goals, something that hasn't always come easily to Germany.

Player like Füllkrug 'not there'

World Cup winner Toni Kroos joined the chorus of voices calling for Füllkrug's inclusion, describing the Bremen striker's skillset as similar to Miroslav Klose and Mario Gomez.

"If you look at the current form, I already think he should be an issue," Kroos said on his podcast, earlier this month. "I know that Hansi is excellently informed about any German player. He also knows, of course, which types of players he has and which he doesn't. And a player type Füllkrug is currently not there.

Miroslav Klose slides on his knees while celebrating a goal for Germany
Germany have lacked a regular goalscorer since Miroslav Klose, who retired from international football in 2014.Image: AP

"We actually almost always had someone like that with Miro (Klose), Mario Gomez. And I think those are already types of players that can just help you in certain situations," the Real Madrid midfielder concluded. "And that's why I'm very, very sure that Hansi is thinking about it."

Given Füllkrug's comments after his winning goal, there seems to be little doubt that he would accept the call, but with only three Bundesliga games left before the World Cup, all he can do is keep scoring: "Of course I know which lists I'm on," Füllkrug told DAZN. "The decision is not up to me so I will not express any wishes. We'll just have to see where it ends up."

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