Werner under pressure to maintain goal-scoring run for Germany

AFP , Thursday 7 Oct 2021

Germany can edge closer to qualifying for the 2022 World Cup by beating Romania in Hamburg on Friday with Chelsea striker Timo Werner under pressure to maintain his goal-scoring run for the national team

Timo Werner
Timo Werner trains with the Germany team in Hamburg on Wednesday (AFP)

The Germans have struggled to find a reliable striker since Miroslav Klose retired in 2014 after setting an all-time record of 16 goals at World Cup finals.

"You need a killer instinct up front," former Germany striker Mario Gomez told AFP subsidiary SID.

"If you don't have a robust centre-forward, you have to think of other solutions," Gomez added, "and that's what (Germany head coach) Hansi Flick is doing."

Werner has managed only two goals in eight Chelsea games this season, but is on a good run for Germany having hit the net in all three September internationals.

A clinically taken close-range goal against Liechtenstein, a tap-in against Armenia, and a scrappy effort which went in off the post late on against Iceland boosted Werner's record to 19 goals in 45 internationals.

Yet his tally of 14 goals in 60 games for Chelsea is a poor return compared to the 95 he scored in 159 matches for previous club RB Leipzig before last year's transfer to Stamford Bridge.

Germany are on the verge of punching their ticket to next year's World Cup in Qatar.

They are four points clear at the top of their qualifying group after winning their last three games under Flick, beating Liechtenstein, Armenia and Iceland by scoring 12 goals in the process and conceding none.

Wins over Romania in Hamburg and away to North Macedonia next Monday could secure a World Cup berth before November's final qualifiers against Liechtenstein and Armenia.

Werner arrived in the German camp after scoring his first Premier League goal for Chelsea since April in Saturday's 3-1 win over Southampton and eager to learn more from Flick.

"For me, it's great that Hansi Flick clearly says how you can improve, he's always very positive, not just critical," said Werner, who says Flick gives players the impression "that he wants to work with you".

Germany team director Oliver Bierhoff sees time with the national team as a chance for Werner to "gain self-confidence and to show" Chelsea coach Thomas Tuchel he is a reliable goal-scorer.

Bierhoff insists Flick "thinks the world of" Werner, but the 25-year-old has to repay the faith.

Flick can afford to have patience in Werner, because Germany have not struggled to score in recent games with Bayern Munich wingers Serge Gnabry and Leroy Sane in impressive form.

In Gnabry, Sane, Jamal Musiala, Marco Reus and Thomas Mueller, Flick has "enough players in attack who can score goals", said Gomez.

Werner predicts the German team "will have no problems scoring in the long run", but "we have to be aware that every chance counts" and, for him, a dry spell for Germany is not an option.

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