Con­fed Cup tri­umph in­di­cates world champ might con­tinue to dom­i­nate

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - SPORTS -

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.”

Vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties

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

MARTIN MEISSNER / AP

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.

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