The first international break — sigh — of the season is coming after this weekend’s matches, with two weeks of glorified “Nations League” friendlies coming up for most teams. The Nations League is UEFA’s new concept to make meaningless friendlies slightly more meaningful, though still poorly timed and fairly annoying. As exciting as the World Cup may have been, this Nations League business is still just an in-season disruption (and source of fatigue and injuries) that we could certainly do without.
Of course, for the players, it’s still an honor to represent their countries. For many, it is in fact the highest honor, even if the quality of the football is not the highest level.
In any case, call-ups for the two games during this first break are now underway, with Antonio Rudiger getting the call from Joachim Low, who remains in charge of Germany despite a horrendous showing in Russia, where they finished bottom of their group, behind Sweden, Mexico, and South Korea.
There are 5 fresh faces in the squad: Kehrer, Schulz, Tah, Havertz, Petersen (a combined 4 caps between them, with 3 of those coming from Jonathan Tah), plus the return of Leroy Sane, whose exclusion from the World Cup squad made all the headlines over the summer.
GOALKEEPERS: Manuel Neuer (Bayern), Marc-Andre ter Stegen (Barcelona)
DEFENDERS: Jerome Boateng (Bayern), Matthias Ginter (Gladbach), Jonas Hector (1. FC Koln), Mats Hummels (Bayern), Thilo Kehrer (PSG), Joshua Kimmich (Bayern), Antonio Rudiger (Chelsea), Nicho Schulz (Hoffenheim), Niklas Sule (Bayern), Jonathan Tah (Leverkusen)
MIDFIELDERS/ATTACKERS: Julian Brandt (Leverkusen), Julian Draxler (PSG), Leon Goretzka (Bayern), Ilkay Gundogan (Manchester City), Kai Havertz (Leverkusen), Toni Kroos (Real Madrid), Thomas Muller (Bayern), Nils Petersen (Freiburg), Marco Reus (BVB), Leroy Sane (Manchester City), Timo Werner (RB Leipzig)
Germany take on France in the Nations League on Thursday (Sep 6), then Peru in a friendly on Sunday (Sep 9).