New-look Germany under pressure ahead of Dutch derby
Marco Reus has called on Germany to win back the trust of their fans when they launch their Euro 2020 qualifying campaign against old rivals the Netherlands on Sunday.
Germany were booed by fans in Wolfsburg during their 1-1 friendly draw against Serbia last Wednesday, and Reus has said that it is up to the players to change the mood.
"We need patience from the fans, but it is our job to make sure the atmosphere improves," he said on Friday.
Germany have not won a competitive game since they beat Sweden at the World Cup last summer. But they still crashed out of the World Cup in the group stage, and were relegated from the top tier of the UEFA Nations League in the autumn.
Coach Joachim Loew declared the beginning of a "new era" last week, having brought in several young players and made the controversial call to drop three experienced stars in Thomas Mueller, Mats Hummels and Jerome Boateng.
Yet Reus warned that the new-look Germany would take time to reach their full potential.
"We are all ambitious enough to want to win every game, but it won't just start working from one day to the next," he said.
The change of personnel means that Reus, 29, is among the most senior players in the team.
"I am at an age where I have to take on leadership roles, both here and at my club," said the Borussia Dortmund star.
"Everything will take time, we have a lot of young players who need to find their feet."
- Dangerous Van Dijk -
Reus is expected to return to the starting lineup, along with Real Madrid midfielder Toni Kroos on Sunday in Amsterdam.
"Toni is indispensable for us," said coach Joachim Loew on Saturday, and confirmed that both Leroy Sane and Serge Gnabry would also be fit to face the Netherlands.
Loew said his team were not thinking about defeat, despite the fact that the Dutch are in good form, and have not lost to Germany since 2012.
"They are playing very well, they are highly motivated and the atmosphere here is extremely good," said Loew.
The Dutch cruised to a 4-0 win over Belarus in their opening qualifier on Thursday.
Oranje captain Virgil van Dijk was on the scoresheet with a header, and both Loew and defender Niklas Suele identified the Liverpool defender as a threat.
"He is a fantastic in the air, not just because he is big, but because he gets so much power behind his headers," said Loew of van Dijk.
"We can't allow him space to run onto headers," said Suele, who watched van Dijk do just that when Liverpool knocked Bayern out of the Champions League earlier this month.
Van Dijk has made a habit of scoring against German sides. He hit a late equaliser for the Netherlands against Germany when the two sides met in Gelsenkirchen last November.
He also scored in a 3-0 win over Germany a month earlier.
Those results have rekindled the old rivalry between the Dutch and the Germans. On Sunday, Germany will be hoping to get the fans back on side with a win over their neighbours.
"It is always a special game, partly because of how close we are geographically," said Germany and Bayern Munich midfielder Leon Goretzka on Friday.
"As a boy, I used to go on holiday with my family in Holland, and I grew up with the rivalry."
"We will be really motivated on Sunday. It's going to be a fiery game."
© 2019 AFP