Saturday, July 13, 2024

Germany´s Rudiger overcomes fitness issue for last-16 clash as Nagelsmann ponders striker decision

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 28 Jun 2024

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Julian Nagelsmann has confirmed Antonio Rudiger will be fit for Germany’s last-16 clash with Denmark at Euro 2024, though refused to divulge his plans on Niclas Fullkrug and Kai Havertz.

Real Madrid defender Rudiger suffered a thigh strain in the final Group A clash with Switzerland, who were undone by Fullkrug’s late header in a 1-1 draw.

That last-gasp heroics from the towering forward secured top spot in the group, subsequently teeing up a meeting with Denmark in the knockout stages on Saturday.

It appeared unclear whether Rudiger would be fit for the round-of-16 clash, yet Nagelsmann says the centre-back will be available after returning to team training.

“If nothing else happens, he can play tomorrow,” said Nagelsmann at Friday’s pre-match press conference in Dortmund.

Nagelsmann also has to consider his options up top after Fullkrug again impressed from the substitutes bench.

Indeed, Fullkrug has scored four goals in six major tournament appearances for Germany, with all games and goals coming as a substitute.

Among all European players to play at least 100 minutes at the World Cup and Euros, only Poland’s Ernst Wilimowski (one every 30 minutes) has a better minutes-per-goal ratio than Fullkrug’s 35-minute ratio.

“I’m not following the discussion at all,” Nagelsmann said on the decision to start Havertz, Florian Wirtz or Fullkrug.

“We as the coaching team will decide who plays. I won’t say anything before tomorrow.”

Germany are set to play in their fifth straight knockout stages of the European Championship, with support growing on home soil as they contend with pre-tournament favourites England and France.

Denmark coach Kasper Hjulmand acknowledged Nagelsmann’s men as one of the favourites to go all the way, but still backed his team’s chances.

“I said it before the tournament started that I consider Germany one of the favourites,” Hjulman said. “Just too bad they are playing us tomorrow!

“The quality they have, the way they express themselves in the first couple of matches, the talent they have – but so do we.

“We also have a great team. So they have to be very, very good tomorrow to beat us.”

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