Despite the international break that will last until March, the discussion about national coaches continues Joachim Löw continue to stop, even pick up speed. That is due to the nature of the matter. Because the reporters will concentrate everywhere on the performance of the players who were kicked out by Löw or who were ignored at all. Even a long-term victim could play his way back into the limelight via the Ligue1 detour.
And every further spectacular defensive action (Hummels, Boateng), every new intelligent, possibly game-deciding pass and every additional goal (Müller) will raise questions about the meaningfulness of Löw’s decision to no longer consider the trio. Quite understandable. Because the national coach simply gambled away.
Hoped that the players who stepped into the breach for the world championship trio, sooner or later, would simply abandon this triple personality to collective oblivion. But that did not happen for two reasons: the results of the DFB-Elf – and specifically the performances shown in the respective games of those who moved up in the hierarchy – simply did not allow it. And at the same time, the three rejected in the majority of their club assignments led the performance principle to absurdity.
So that we don’t get ourselves wrong: I think a lot of Antonio Rüdiger. And a Mathias Ginter in central defense is also above the national average for me. Even a Julian Draxler or his namesake Brandt can certainly conjure up the blue of the sky. Only he shows it far too seldom. And even if the potential is undisputed: is that enough on its own? Doesn’t it mean: the better is the enemy of the good?
A name has rarely been mentioned in the entire debates about personnel changes (including the position of coach) in the DFB team in the last few days. Perhaps because most of the representatives of the guilds who write or comment otherwise no longer expect a change in the seemingly cemented status quo. The player himself obviously (and understandably) no longer does it either.
We’re talking about Kevin Volland. When I saw the boy for the first time, it must have been at a game by the Munich Lions in 1860, I was thrilled. The guy reminded me of strikers from the Darko Pancev brand, Iván Zamorano or even Geld Müller. Small – yes, not a crusher type, but equipped with unbelievable mobility and flexibility in the movement sequences.
He is said to have acquired that – apart from an obviously natural talent – in his earlier excursions into ice hockey. A game in which the respective scenery changes completely in a fraction of a second. In contrast to the, in comparison, somewhat sluggish dynamic of a football game.
The man, or rather the boy, because he was barely 19 or 20 years old, promised something. He was agile, technically strong and very fast. And knew where the gate was. And he kept this promise even after taking his first big career step (moving to TSG Hoffenheim) in 2012.
At that time he was probably already on Löw’s umbrella, who actually appointed him to the group of the country’s best for the first time barely two years later. Two squad nominations for the World Cup preparatory games against Poland and Cameroon were the result, but Volland was only used against the Eastern European neighbors. After 71 minutes he was substituted for Sebastian Jung.
At that time Löw already had his corset in his head – understandably – and even after Marco Reus was injured in the last friendly against Armenia, he didn’t change anything. But even then one could have been skeptical: instead of compensating for the lack of offensive power of a Reus (for many the best German footballer at the time) with a substantially comparable, i.e. also offensive, variant, Löw – Shkodran took Mustafi to South America!
We remember: that was the player whose injury in the round of 16 against Algeria may have opened the door to the later title for us. Even for the 2014 World Cup triumph, which in retrospect – from Löw’s point of view – justified everything, it took coincidences, the national coach had to be forced to his later luck.
A full country was initially left out. Also due to his appearances in the U-21, the native of Allgäu did not return to two appearances until the end of the international match year 2014. Gibraltar (in the European Championship qualification) and Spain (friendly match) were beaten 4-0 and 1-0.
However, Volland was not allowed to travel to the EM 2016. And that despite the fact that he scored 18 points (8 hits, 10 assists) in 33 games for TSG Hoffenheim. And even then, the Kraichgauer were not considered the absolute top team in the Bundesliga. That means: how would the good Volland have performed if he had had better teammates around him?
Like in Leverkusen, where he moved to in summer 2016. Perhaps it was Löw’s predecessor on the DFB coaching bench, Rudi Völler, who occasionally reminded the Freiburg trainer the name Volland. So Volland came after the unnecessarily messed up EM (yes, I call it “messed up” despite reaching the semi-finals!) To four more appearances in the DFB dress.
But here, too, a clear trend can already be seen: in a friendly match against the Finns, the new Leverkusen man was allowed to stay on the field for 90 minutes, in the subsequent World Cup qualifiers against Northern Ireland and San Marino he was only a testimonial (9 and 19 Minutes). On November 15, 2016, Kevin Volland made his last international match so far in a friendly against Italy (0-0).
So that was almost exactly four years ago to the week. Actually unbelievable. Both if you look at most of the offensive performances of the DFB-Elf since then. As well as if you analyze the personal balance sheets of Kevin Volland.
2016/17 season: 9 goals, 2 assists in 31 games for Bayer in the Bundesliga, DFB-Pokal and Champions League; 2017/18 season: 14 goals, 4 assists in 34 games (no Champions League because not represented), 2018/19 season: 15 goals, 16 assists in 42 games, 2019/20 season: 12 goals, 10 assists in 40 games .
But there is no one more blind than one who does not want to see. And so Volland has now decided not only to turn his back on the Bundesliga, but also the whole country. What’s the point of introducing yourself to Löw’s nose, so to speak, week after week (and recommending) if there is an addressee of the applications who does not deviate from his ideas (to avoid the term stubborn) at the other end of the line?
Oh, by the way: yesterday Kevin Volland shot last year’s Champions League finalist Paris St. Germain practically single-handedly from the Stade Louis II in Monaco. Two goals and a penalty he caused turned the game to 3: 2 (after 0: 2). And almost at the same time we complain in soccer Germany about a lack of coolness in front of the goal and usury of opportunities.
Volland has 4 hits and 3 assists in the French league after nine match days (with comparable values as in the last four years), is now 28 years old (actually in the perfect footballer’s age because there is the balance between still youthful strength and means a good amount of experience) – and will probably not be nominated for the DFB-Elf for the time being. At least as long as Löw is “in power”. And gradually our French neighbors will probably ask themselves why the performance principle is not applied in Germany. Or they just laugh at each other.