Saudi Arabia to come up against Mesut Ozil, Toni Kroos and Thomas Muller in Germany friendly

Germany will line up against Saudi Arabia on June 8 in Leverkusen. (AFP)
Updated 20 February 2018
0

Saudi Arabia to come up against Mesut Ozil, Toni Kroos and Thomas Muller in Germany friendly

BERLIN: Defending champions Germany have confirmed they will play Saudi Arabia in a World Cup warm-up match in June.

News of the fixture with the World Cup holders emerged last month but the German Football Association confirmed on Monday that the game will take place in Leverkusen on Thursday, June 8 — just six days before Saudi Arabia kick off their World Cup campaign against hosts Russia on June 14.

It be only the third time the two countries have met and the first since Germany thrashed the Green Falcons 8-0 at the 2002 World Cup. Miroslav Klose scored a hat-trick that day. The other meeting took place in Riyadh in February 1998 when goals from Andreas Möller, Thomas Helmer and Olaf Marschall sunk Carlos Alberto Perreira’s side 3-0.

Germany also have friendlies against Austria, Spain and Brazil as they prepare for life in Group F alongside Mexico, Sweden and South Korea.

Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, have left no stone unturned in their preparations and they will play at least six friendlies before their World Cup opener.

SAUDI ARABIA’S FRIENDLIES

Feb. 26: Moldova (H)
Feb. 28: Iraq (A)
Mar. 23: Ukraine (in Spain)
Mar. 28: Belgium (in Spain)
Apr. 9 (TBC)
May. 15 (TBC)
May 28 Italy (TBC)
June 3: Peru (venue TBC)
June 8: Germany (A)

TRAINING CAMPS
Stage one: Jan. 21-27 in Saudi Arabia
Stage two: Feb. 21-27 in Saudi Arabia followed by a friendly in Iraq
Stage three: Mar 15-27 in Spain, including friendlies against Ukraine and Belgium
Stage four: End of April until May 15 in Spain
Stage five: May 19 to World Cup in Europe


‘We want to make Saudi Arabia proud’: Pizzi promises better showing against Egypt

Updated 22 June 2018
0

‘We want to make Saudi Arabia proud’: Pizzi promises better showing against Egypt

  • Saudi Arabia cannot progress from Group A even if they defeat Egypt in their final game on Monday
  • Wednesday’s overall performance was much improved, yet a lack of penetrative passing was obvious

ROSTOV-ON-DON: “Keeping possession of the ball seems to be the absolute and most important thing, but then when you sometimes find issues in getting the ball into your opponent’s half, you have to find other movements and ways of doing that,” said Oscar Tabarez after watching his lackluster Uruguay rely on a solitary Luis Suarez goal to eliminate Saudi Arabia from the World Cup. 
Tabarez was talking about his own team’s struggles, yet the assessment is considerably more applicable to the Green Falcons, who dominated possession and retained the ball with ease in midfield, yet for the second match running looked absolutely bereft of ideas in the final third. With Uruguay and Russia now on six points, Saudi Arabia cannot progress from Group A even if they defeat Egypt in their final game on Monday.
The Green Falcons coach Juan Antonio Pizzi confirmed he intends to stay at the helm of the side for the long-haul, yet is only too aware that the potential of this team is being hamstrung by its inability to score. He called it “our weakness”, adding that his side enjoyed “good ball possession, but no effectiveness”. They, he said, did not have the sufficient “weapons or tools” to equalize.
Pizzi’s side have found the net now just twice in their past five games and against Uruguay managed only three shots on target in 90 minutes — two of which came in added time and were so tame they would hardly have troubled the opposition goalkeeper Fernando Muslera had he been relaxing at his far post sipping a drink. In the 5-0 defeat to Russia last week, they failed to muster a single shot on target. 
Wednesday’s overall performance was much improved, yet a lack of penetrative passing was obvious. One passage of play in the opening exchanges saw Saudi Arabia complete 16 passes untroubled without the ball entering the opposition penalty box. When Uruguay finally won possession, they required only four quick exchanges to find Edinson Cavani on the left wing drilling the ball across the front of goal. 
“I don’t share that assessment,” said Pizzi, when it was put to him that his team was too slow to attack. “We played at the speed that was necessary. We need to be accurate, but if you step up the speed you lose accuracy with your passes. We had control of the game and that was why.”
Striker Mohammed Al-Sahlawi had been the focal point of much criticism from Turki Al-Sheikh, the head of Saudi’s General Sports Authority, after the Russia “fiasco” and was dropped from the side against Uruguay. So too was goalkeeper Abdullah Al-Mayouf, another who Al-Sheikh name-checked as having been at fault.
Pizzi, asked whether the scathing assessment from his bosses had forced his hand when it came to team selection, calmly dismissed the suggestion. He also ruled out the notion that administrative issues between the players and the country’s football federation had caused unrest in his squad.
“I have a list of 23 players here and they are all available to play. We are here together and pushing in the same direction. 
“I wanted — and still want — to make the Saudi Arabian people feel proud of our energy and the desire we show in matches. Unfortunately we were unable to do that against Russia and will be playing our next match without any hope of progressing. I hope now they will feel a little more proud even though we are out of the World Cup,” he said.