Captain Manuel Neuer was announced, but his new armband lay bare, silent and deserted, on the podium for the national team’s daily press conference. In the morning, the goalkeeper and his Munich teammate Leon Goretzka were positive about that Coronavirus been tested, which not only led to an unoccupied seat at the media consultation hour, but also to unrest in the team hotel. While Neuer and Goretzka started their journey home towards Bavaria, the entire DFB crew completed quick tests, which were negative for the time being. As the DFB announced, a corona case had arisen in the private environment of one of the two players, neither Neuer nor Goretzka complained of symptoms of illness.
The contact persons of the two in the group of players and supervisors should now be tested daily before the games against Hungary (in Leipzig) and in England (in London). “After two years with the pandemic, the usual processes in our medical department are taking effect,” explained press spokeswoman Franziska Wülle, indicating that the excitement was somewhat limited. Later in the day, Julian Brandt also signed off (infection), the nominated Oliver Baumann and Maximilian Arnold should fill the gaps. Improvisation is required.
Jonas Hofmann, 30, already knows the procedure. Departure after arrival, he also had to practice that in the spring of last year after a positive result from the DFB doctors. As a precaution, his colleague Marcel Halstenberg was sent to quarantine with him, after a game of backgammon was fatal. The following days remained unforgettable for Hofmann: “You just lie or sit around in the room and it’s dead boring.” A year later, the virus caught him again at home in Mönchengladbach.
There is no shortage of substitute captains for the absent newcomer in Hansi Flick’s squad
The rules are now less strict, and Hofmann was allowed to appear at the press date on Wednesday, as announced, and take on the honorable task of explaining the presence of Neuer’s armband. This was not on the table as a reference to the isolated captain, but because its colorfulness is intended to represent a political symbol if Neuer wears it as planned at the World Cup. In view of the controversial situation in Qatar, the piece of material should “stand for diversity and against discrimination”. The captains of other European teams (including the Netherlands, Belgium and England) will also be wearing the colored ribbon. “It’s about us all pulling together,” says Hofmann.
There is no shortage of substitute captains for the absent newcomer (Marc-André ter Stegen will take over his position) in Hansi Flick’s squad. Ilkay Gündogan, Thomas Müller or Joshua Kimmich are – in this order – the first candidates, but if Hofmann is not careful, he may soon be offered an honorary position. His steep career in the national team is no longer a hot topic, but it is still amazing as a late stroke of luck in the career. Jogi Löw helped him make his debut two years ago, but under his successor the right winger from Mönchengladbach has become a regular player.
Footballers often claim they don’t read what’s written about them in order to keep a clear head. It could therefore be that Jonas Hofmann recently missed something that he should have filed away for later admiring attention from children and grandchildren. “More valuable than ever!”, “This is how he becomes a World Cup trump card”, “Hofmann recommends himself to Flick”, “Effenberg ennobles Hofmann: world class”, it was said about him after last weekend. That doesn’t read badly in the family chronicle. The best headline last Saturday evening, however, comes from himself. “I think I could have scored a four-pack,” said the double scorer after Borussia Mönchengladbach’s 3-0 win over RB Leipzig.
Offensively, Hofmann with his opening runs is not only needed on the wing
In the national team, Hofmann will probably have to settle for fewer scoring chances in the coming games if he operates a few meters further back as instructed. The offensive player found his way into the team as a misused right-back and, thanks to his dynamism and playing ability, not only closed a vacancy that had been lamented for a long time, but also took on a role that fits in with Flick’s attack-oriented game idea. Löw had already thought about changing his position, Flick made the attempt and Hofmann immediately started his homework.
Until then, defending had been a part-time job for him. He doesn’t want to talk about “retraining” now, especially since he has kept his old position at Borussia, but he says he has already dealt with the details of his new job in detail. The first thing he did was go to YouTube school at home, watch videos and study defender behavior. Since then he has seen football a little differently: “You pay more attention to certain scenes now,” he says, but the will to adapt has limits, “the harmonious connection with the offensive role” must be maintained. Flick will not contradict him: Hofmann is not only used offensively on the wing with his opening runs. In the first leg in Budapest (1-1) he scored the only goal against the notoriously uncomfortable Hungary. He can be expected to do the next prank at any time on Friday evening, and it doesn’t have to be a four-pack.