Leon Goretzka attests that FIFA made the same mistakes when awarding the World Cup to Saudi Arabia and Qatar. And Serge Gnabry starts laughing at Sandro Wagner.
Experienced national players like Serge Gnabry and Leon Goretzka are usually so experienced at press conferences that it is difficult to bring them out of the reserves. Gnabry’s reaction was even more amusing when he was asked about Sandro Wagner’s new role as national coach on Wednesday (November 15, 2023).
“First of all, it is very surprising that Sandro went down this path so quickly.” said Gnabry about his former teammate at FC Bayern, with a smile on his lips. “We’ve been playing with him for a few years now. He’s always been a really funny player. That’s why the change is definitely funny sometimes.”
From cabin joker to coach
Gnabry emphasized, trying to be serious, that Wagner was very serious about the matter, very motivated and open. “I think it’s a good combination that we have as a coaching team, especially for me as a striker, that he can give me one or two tips on how he scored goals back then.”
At the last words, Gnabry couldn’t help but laugh – the impression of having the former locker room joker as coach was apparently very recent.
Goretzka on Wagner: “He remained the same person”
Gnabry was involved in Wagner’s debut as assistant coach of the national team, in the 2-1 victory over France under interim coach Rudi Völler. But he missed the last trip to the USA with Julian Nagelsmann and his permanent assistant Wagner due to injury. Now he is back in the squad for Saturday’s test matches (8.45pm, live on audio stream) in Berlin against Turkey and three days later in Vienna against Austria (live on audio stream).
Goretzka smiled along with his companion’s laughter, but then responded confidently. “I think Sandro was very similar. He does a very good job managing this – in quotes – ‘difficulty’ that faced us and so, of course, he has a different connection.” Wagner remained the same person, didn’t seem fake and was extremely motivated.
World Cup in Saudi Arabia? Goretzka more clearly than Bernd Neuendorf
Goretzka is considered one of the most eloquent and opinionated national players. Before and during the recent World Cup, he made critical comments about the human rights situation in Qatar and denounced the decision to award the tournament to the undemocratic desert emirate.
Now Goretzka has been asked about FIFA’s latest decisions, which will likely allow Saudi Arabia to host the 2034 World Cup. In his response, Goretzka was clearer than, for example, DFB President Bernd Neuendorf, who currently does not comments on the subject.
Goretzka: “The error has obviously not been corrected”
The mistake in Qatar was the award “and the criteria that played a role,” Goretzka said. “That’s obviously not been corrected now and that’s certainly not a good thing.”
However, he is now worried about what lies ahead in the summer, namely the European Championships at home. “And I’m extremely happy that these issues will probably subside and that we can focus fully on football.”
Back in the squad, but not yet in the starting eleven
Goretzka was afraid of missing the European Championships in her own country. Former national coach Hansi Flick no longer appointed him after several disappointing results. Flick’s successor Nagelsmann brought Goretzka back into the team but preferred Brighton & Hove Albion’s Pascal Groß in defensive midfield in the last two games.
“We are the German football team – the competition is always extremely fierce,” Goretzka said. “I’m already out of it convinced that I have qualities that I can help the team with. In the end, Julian will have to decide how, where and when this happens.”
Gnabry wants to build in 2019
Gnabry also had better moments with the national team, especially in 2019 with 9 goals and 2 assists in 8 games. Recently, young stars Jamal Musiala and Florian Wirtz have come to prominence and Leroy Sané is in top form. As Nagelsmann also looks to rely on a classic striker in Niclas Füllkrug, things will be difficult for Gnabry.
He was still behind the efficiency of that time, Gnabry said. “The new season hasn’t started so well with some injuries, so I haven’t had the opportunity to play very well yet.” A splint now helps him walk again, despite his broken forearm at the end of September. “I will definitely try to do my best again and continue the form I had back then.”