Neuer and Goretzka are out with Corona

Leon Goretzka at the wheel and co-driver Manuel Neuer drove in a blue SUV from the parking lot of the team hotel. A Corona incident abruptly thwarted Hansi Flick’s central plans for the important World Cup dress rehearsal against Hungary and England. The Nations League conclusion of the German national football team with the group victory aimed for by the national coach must take place without the top performers.

Neuer and Goretzka, who were still in the marquee with FC Bayern during the team’s traditional Oktoberfest visit on Munich’s Theresienwiese on Sunday, had to leave the DFB quarter in Gravenbruch near Frankfurt on Wednesday after positive corona tests. Dortmund’s Julian Brandt is also out – according to the DFB, a flu infection forced him to leave.

In quick tests of all players, coaches and supervisors, the result for goalkeeper Neuer and midfielder Goretzka was positive. There had been a corona case in a player’s private environment, whereupon the medical department of the DFB, led by Professor Tim Meyer, immediately became active. The virus has caught the DFB entourage again and only two months before the start of the World Cup has returned to consciousness as a source of danger that has almost been suppressed. “Of course, the alarm bells go off because the first thing you know is that you’re out and can’t help the team,” said Jonas Hofmann from Gladbach. This could also happen at the World Cup in Qatar! Hofmann has also missed international matches because of a corona infection. The 30-year-old actually wanted to talk about World Cup goals instead of corona problems two days before the game against league leaders Hungary together with birthday child Thilo Kehrer (26) and captain Neuer at the DFB press conference.

Flick initially reacted to the new situation by nominating Hoffenheim goalkeeper Oliver Baumann for Neuer. Marc-André ter Stegen should now be in goal against Hungary on Friday (8.45 p.m. / ZDF). An alternative to FC Barcelona’s goalkeeper would be Frankfurt’s Kevin Trapp. In addition, the Wolfsburg midfielder Maximilian Arnold was nominated on Wednesday.

The corona alarm in the national team, which is traveling by train from Frankfurt to the Leipzig venue on Thursday, is not over with the departure of Neuer and Goretzka. The contact persons of the Bayern duo would continue to be “tested daily”, the DFB said. So the shaking continues. “After two years with the pandemic, the usual processes in our medical department are taking effect,” reported national team spokeswoman Franziska Wülle. After all, Neuer and Goretzka are “symptom-free”, as the 30-year-old said.

According to the DFB, the prerequisite for all players and also the team behind the team was a negative rapid antigen test. The Corona comeback in the national team took the entourage by surprise. “In general, the handling has perhaps been played down a bit, not only here, but in general in everyday life,” said Hofmann, who found: “Our medical department acted well, quickly and correctly. Hopefully we won’t have any more cases.”

A year ago, after a positive test by Niklas Süle, several players had to leave the team hotel in Wolfsburg, including Joshua Kimmich, who was still unvaccinated at the time. This had led to excited public debates.

Football, the Nations League and the World Cup took a back seat, at least for a short time. On the second day of training, Flick had two groups practice. Standards, i.e. corners and free kicks, were the focus, as defender Kehrer reported after the secret session on the DFB campus. The absence of Neuer and Goretzka upsets Flick’s line-up plans against Hungary and England, but does not change the national coach’s goal of “winning both games”.

Flick’s ambition infects the players. “Hansi sets an example by wanting to win every international match, wanting to win the Nations League,” said Hofmann. It is not clear which leading player will lead the team against Hungary as a substitute captain for Neuer. Thomas Müller, Ilkay Gündogan and Kimmich are candidates. In any case, he will do it with the captain’s armband, which Neuer will also wear as a sign against discrimination at the World Cup in Qatar. This adorns “a heart in bright colors that stand for diversity, as well as the inscription ‘One Love'”, as the DFB announced. “That should be a sign from our side,” said Hofmann. The national players want to do more than just play football in Qatar. (dpa)

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