Confed Cup triumph indicates world champ might continue to dominate
ST. PETERSBURG, Russia — Joachim Loew hailed Germany’s next generation of stars after they beat Chile 1-0 on Sunday to lift the Confederations Cup, but the coach stressed the main challenge is to defend the World Cup next year.
Lars Stindl’s simple tap-in was enough to seal Germany’s victory in St. Petersburg as the youthful world champion won the tournament for the first time.
Loew cut a soggy figure at the post-match media conference when his players stormed the stage and showered him with beer.
“I am immensely proud of this team ... we have only been together for three-and-a-half weeks,” said Loew.
“You could feel something was happening in training, we came together and it’s a really deserved win.”
Loew took a gamble by leaving first-choice stars like Thomas Muller, Jerome Boateng, Toni Kroos and Mesut Ozil at home and bringing inexperienced youngsters to Russia.
Germany captain Julian Draxler was voted the Confed Cup’s player of the tournament and striker Timo Werner finished as the tournament’s top scorer with three goals and two assists.
German soccer has a bright future after its Under-21 team was crowned European champion on Friday in Poland.
However, Loew said the hard work for his rising stars is just beginning as they bid to earn a place in Die Mannschaft’s squad for next year’s World Cup.
Only three of the Confed Cup-winning team — Jonas Hector, Joshua Kimmich and Julian Draxler — are firstchoice starters.
“Despite our success here and with the juniors in Poland, we’ ll still have to reconfirm our victories next year (at the World Cup), but the job starts now, the work is just beginning,” said Loew.
“The young ones are only just coming up; this is the first tournament for many of these players.
“They have done well, but staying at the top is another matter and we will have to work hard to defend our title next year.
“The team had to fight back, the Chileans are very robust and things were heating up in the second half. We were fighting for every meter to defend our lead.
“It was a magic match for our young players, they haven’t had much experience, but they showed their singleminded determination, which was quite impressive.”
Chile was lucky not to have defender Gonzalo Jara sent off for elbowing Werner in the face during the second half, but despite a review by the video assistant referee, Jara was only booked.
“I didn’t see it from where I was standing, but the VAR was consulted and I saw the replay,” said Loew.
“It could have been worthy of a red card and I think if a referee sees something like that, he could and should have dismissed him.”
Chile wanted to prove it belonged among the world’s elite, but instead showed plenty of vulnerabilities.
Since 2015, the Chileans have won two Copa Americas, and reached Sunday’s final — a huge achievement for a country which had never before won a major tournament.
Intermittently spectacular, Chile’s hard-charging style and three summers without rest could leave it drained for next year’s World Cup — for which Chile is struggling to qualify.
However, coach Juan Antonio Pizzi wants his players to leave nothing in the tank.
“I was convinced that if we went back home with no energy left we would be full of glory, and I thought we would we have the trophy,” he said.
“We go home with no energy, full of glory ... but with no trophy.”
Chile is all about overwhelming the opponent with intense, aggressive pressure. It also works well as a defensive unit, not allowing oppo- nents time to dwell on the ball. Both of its Copa America titles were earned via penalty shootouts following scoreless stalemates.
There’s no Plan B, though, and Chile doesn’t respond well if the opposition scores first.
Pizzi had claimed Chile would be so motivated by playing against Germany that it would compensate for tired legs.
Bayern Munich midfielder Arturo Vidal pitched it as an unofficial world championship game, even though Germany left several star players at home.
Chile began in typically frantic fashion, but missed crucial chances before rallying in the second half.
Stindl netted following some high pressing from the Germans that allowed them to maintain ball control.
Chile had come from behind to draw 1-1 with Australia in the group stage but Germany was a far trickier opponent and there was visible frustration, with Vidal confronting Joshua Kimmich and Jara lucky to avoid a red card for elbowing striker Werner.
Chile’s form was impressive in Russia but it might later rue missing weeks of crucial summer rest.
They have done well, but staying at the top is another matter.” Joachim Loew, after leading his young German team to the Confederations Cup title
Germany captain Julian Draxler lifts the trophy as teammates join the celebration after their 1-0 victory over Chile in Sunday’s final of the Confederations Cup at St. Petersburg Stadium, Russia.