Spain will face Germany in the group stage of the 2022 World Cup, while Qatar were given a tough draw as the hosts will come up against Netherlands and Senegal.

Qatar 2022 is fast approaching and the anticipation will surely be at its most intense so far when Friday's draw for the group stage is completed.

The Doha Exhibition and Convention Center plays host to the milestone event, which will see eight groups drawn from pots as the eventual storylines of the World Cup begin to unfurl.

Among the narratives that will start being mapped out on Friday is France's title defence, with Les Bleus hoping to become the first team since Brazil in 1962 to successfully defend their World Cup crown.

Ahead of the draw, Stats Perform provides a lowdown of all the key information…

 

How will the draw work?

Most of us have seen a draw and understand the general premise, but there's a lot of detail to consider before we end up with our completed group stage.

For starters, the draw (19:00 local time) will only include 29 qualified teams, with the other three spots to consist of a couple of intercontinental play-off slot placeholders and one UEFA play-off slot placeholder, with those nations to be determined later in the year.

The qualified teams will be sorted into four pots of eight, with their FIFA world ranking determining which they enter – joining Qatar in pot one will be the top seven teams, while the nations ranked eight-15 will be in pot 2, and so on. The three play-off slot placeholders will be drawn from pot four.

There will also be eight pots representing the groups, A to H. Each group pot contains four balls with position numbers, ranging from one to four, which correspond to the teams' respective starting position in the tables and subsequently impact their fixture schedule.

Team pot one will be the first to empty, with Qatar automatically drawn into slot A1. The other sides from pot one will go straight into position one of the remaining groups.

From then on, a ball is drawn from a team pot and followed by one from a group pot, determining that team's position – for example, the second nation drawn into Group A could be placed in slot A4. The process continues until each team pot is emptied, with pot four the last to be drawn.

Where possible, no group will contain more than one team from the same qualification zone, with the exception of Europe – so anyone hoping for an encounter like Brazil v Uruguay will have to wait for the knockout stage.

Thursday's release of the latest world rankings confirmed the make-up of the respective pots, so, without any further ado, let's take a look through them…

The Pots

Pot One:

Qatar (hosts)
Brazil
Belgium
France
Argentina
England
Spain
Portugal

 

Pot Two:

Denmark
Netherlands
Germany
Mexico 
USA
Switzerland
Croatia
Uruguay

Pot Three:

Senegal
Iran
Japan
Morocco
Serbia
Poland
South Korea
Tunisia

 

Pot Four:

Cameroon
Canada
Ecuador
Saudi Arabia
Ghana
Intercontinental play-off placeholder 1 
Intercontinental play-off placeholder 2
UEFA play-off placeholder

Luck of the draw!

It goes without saying that, theoretically, being in pot one means you would be favourites to win your group. But that's the beauty of football; practically anything can happen once you're on the pitch.

If we look back to the last World Cup four years ago, defending champions Germany were top of the FIFA rankings and in pot one, but then failed to get through the group stage for the first time ever.

 

But just as being in a higher pot is no guarantee of going deep into the tournament, who's to say how eventual 2018 champions France would have fared had they been in pot two?

Les Bleus were ranked seventh at the time so squeezed into pot one ahead of Spain. While that arguably gave them a trickier route to the final in the knockout phase, perhaps the tests posed by Argentina, Uruguay and Belgium were what kept them sharp all the way to the end?

This time around, Spain do appear in pot one. Portugal do as well, with Fernando Santos' men benefiting in that regard from European champions Italy's shock absence.

Nevertheless, there are some powerful teams in pot two. The Netherlands and Germany are undoubtedly the pick of the bunch there, both of whom will provide a stern test for any of the teams in pot one. Brazil v Die Mannschaft in the group stage, anyone?

There's a chance we could even see a repeat of the 2018 final in the group stage, with Croatia (pot two) able to come up against France in the opening round, while an England v United States showdown would surely capture the imagination of fans on both sides of 'the pond'.

We can expect to see plenty of quality in pot three as well, especially with Serbia, Robert Lewandowski's Poland and African champions Senegal present.

Among those in pot four are Canada. They may only be competing in their second World Cup and first since 1986, but John Herdman's team have won plenty of admirers en route to winning the CONCACAF qualifying section ahead of Mexico and reaching a record high of 33rd in the rankings.

 

Excitement, expectations and exoduses as Ronaldo and Messi look likely to bow out

Whether watching football on TV or from the stands, it can often be easy to forget that our heroes are just ordinary people as well. They are individuals who in all likelihood had the same hopes and dreams as many of us as children.

The glitz and glamour surrounding professional football can lead us to put footballers on a pedestal, but behind the sport's shiny facade, our teams are made up of – and coached by – people who are just as obsessed with the idea of the World Cup as anyone else.

England manager Gareth Southgate encapsulated the excitement earlier this week, as he said: "[The World Cup evokes] a different sort of feeling, but it's still a tournament we all watched as kids, we all filled our wallcharts out, we all hoped and followed when England were there that we would do well. And it's a unique chance to make history, so that of course is massively exciting."

Of course, that innocent excitement harbours expectation and hope for many, for others there will be a feeling of responsibility to amend the wrongs of the past.

This time around, that's arguably truest when looking at Germany, with Manuel Neuer fully appreciating he may not get another opportunity to put things right.

"I know that I will probably not get to play many more World Cups, so after crashing out in 2018 in Russia and our exit against England [at Euro 2020], it's important that we show a new version of ourselves and visualise success," the experienced goalkeeper said.

That finality Neuer alluded to is another key aspect of the World Cup. Given the four-year cycle of the tournament, every time we bid a fond farewell to a few greats of the game who opt to take advantage of the cyclical nature and end their international careers.

 

This time it looks as though Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo – who for so long battled out their own personal 'Greatest of All-Time' rivalry – may be among those appearing on the World Cup stage for the last time.

"Goal achieved, we're at the Qatar World Cup. We're in our rightful place!" Ronaldo's Instagram post after Portugal's play-off success focused on the positive, but at 37, Qatar 2022 will surely be his final appearance at the tournament.

As for Messi, he said last week: "I don't know, the truth is I don't know. Let's hope [Argentina's preparations] go the best way possible. But for sure after the World Cup many things will change."

Exoduses after major international tournaments are common as teams reset or rebuild, but given what Messi and Ronaldo have represented on the pitch and the fact they've appeared at each of the previous four World Cups, their appearances at Qatar 2022 need to be savoured.

It all begins with Friday's draw, when narratives and talking points that'll live longer than any of us will start to take shape with the unscrewing of a few shiny plastic balls.

The 2022 World Cup is now less than eight months away and the excitement will ramp up another notch on Friday when the draw takes place in Doha.

Qatar will become the first Arab country to host the global showpiece, 92 years after the inaugural event in Uruguay, in what is the 22nd edition of football's biggest tournament.

It will become the smallest host nation by area, with matches to be spread across five different cities, making this the most concentrated edition since Argentina 1978.

Twenty-nine nations have already booked their finals spot, 22 of which competed at the 2018 edition, with the automatically-qualified hosts the only side to make their debut.

Due to the knock-on effects of the coronavirus pandemic and Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the fate of eight teams remains in the balance – only three of whom can still advance.

Wales will face the winners of the Scotland versus Ukraine play-off in June, while New Zealand take on Costa Rica and Peru meet either Australia or the United Arab Emirates.

To further whet the appetite ahead of Friday's draw, Stats Perform looks at some key questions to be answered with the aid of Opta data.

 


Will Europe continue to dominate?

The past four World Cups have been won by European teams: Italy in 2006, Spain in 2010, Germany in 2014 and France in 2018.

That is the longest run of victories for a single continent in the tournament's history, with only one defeated finalist – Argentina in 2014 – coming from outside of Europe.

Indeed, a European team has triumphed in 12 of the previous 21 editions, with South America responsible for the other nine victors.

France are the reigning champions and are aiming to become the third team to retain the trophy after Italy (1934 and 1938) and Brazil (1958 and 1962).

However, a word of warning for Les Bleus – the past three defending champions have been eliminated in the group stage (Italy in 2010, Spain in 2014 and Germany in 2018).

 


No Italy, but will it be a familiar winner?

Despite that, France will be fancied by many having reached the final in half of the past six World Cups –1998, 2006 and 2018 – which is more than any other country.

Another World Cup heavyweight will not be present in Qatar, though, as four-time winners Italy – only Brazil (five) have won more trophies – missed out in the play-offs.

Speaking of Brazil, they are taking part in their 22nd World Cup, making them the only team to have featured in every edition of FIFA's showpiece competition.

Like Italy, Germany have won four titles and they have reached the semi-finals on four of the past five occasions, which is double the number of any other team in that period.

No matter how strong a side, a perfect tournament is tough to come by – only Brazil in 1970 and 2002 have achieved that since the 1930s, when teams played just four games.


Or is it a chance for someone new to shine?

Canada will play in their first World Cup since 1986; that gap of 36 years the longest between appearances among teams confirmed to be taking part in this year's event.

Egypt and Norway had the longest gap at 56 years, though Wales will break that should they advance from their play-off to qualify for the first time since 1958 (64 years).

Qatar are the only new face and will aim to avoid becoming just the second hosts to be eliminated in the first round after South Africa in 2010.

Mexico will also have their sights set on the knockout stages, though no side has played as many games (57) as them without reaching the final.

Netherlands, meanwhile, have reached the final on more occasions (1974, 1978 and 2010) without lifting the coveted trophy than anyone else.

 


Can Ronaldo and Muller set new records?

Cristiano Ronaldo will appear at a record-equalling fifth World Cup and is out to become the first player ever to score in five different editions.

The Portugal forward has seven World Cup goals in total, nine short of the record held by Miroslav Klose, who netted all 16 of his goals from inside the penalty area.

Thomas Muller has an outside chance of catching countryman Klose in Qatar, having scored 10 times across his three previous participations – no active player has more.

The top scorer in a single World Cup is Just Fontaine, who scored 13 times in 1958, including a goal in all six of France's games.

Not since Gerd Muller in 1970, with 10 goals for Germany, has a player reached double figures in a single edition. Brazil great Ronaldo's eight in 2002 is the highest since then.

It's nearly four years since Didier Deschamps became only the third man to win the World Cup as a player and coach, as he guided France to their second success on football's grandest stage.

The target now for Les Bleus is to become the first nation since Brazil in 1962 to retain their crown, and that journey begins on Friday with the draw for the group stage of Qatar 2022.

Four years is a long time to wait for anything, but the draw for the World Cup is always a milestone event that sees the anticipation taken up a notch.

The eyes of the football world will be on the Doha Exhibition and Convention Center, where the eight groups will be drawn and potential routes to December's finale can start being plotted.

But there is a little more to the draw than that…

 

How will the draw work?

Most of us have seen a draw and understand the general premise, but there's a lot of detail to consider before we end up with our completed group stage.

For starters, Friday's draw (19:00 local time) will only include 29 qualified teams, with the other three spots to consist of a couple of intercontinental play-off slot placeholders and one UEFA play-off slot placeholder, with those nations to be determined later in the year.

The qualified teams will be sorted into four pots of eight, with their FIFA world ranking determining which they enter – joining Qatar in pot one will be the top seven teams, while the nations ranked eight-15 will be in pot 2, and so on. The three play-off slot placeholders will be drawn from pot four.

There will also be eight pots representing the groups, A to H. Each group pot contains four balls with position numbers, ranging from one to four, which correspond to the teams' respective starting position in the tables and subsequently impact their fixture schedule.

Team pot one will be the first to empty, with Qatar automatically drawn into slot A1. The other sides from pot one will go straight into position one of the remaining groups.

From then on, a ball is drawn from a team pot and followed by one from a group pot, determining that team's position – for example, the second nation drawn into Group A could be placed in slot A4. The process continues until each team pot is emptied, with pot four the last to be drawn.

Where possible, no group will contain more than one team from the same qualification zone, with the exception of Europe – so anyone hoping for an encounter like Brazil v Uruguay will have to wait for the knockout stage.

Thursday's release of the latest world rankings confirmed the make-up of the respective pots, so, without any further ado, let's take a look through them…

The Pots

Pot One:

Qatar (hosts)
Brazil
Belgium
France
Argentina
England
Spain
Portugal

 

Pot Two:

Denmark
Netherlands
Germany
Mexico 
USA
Switzerland
Croatia
Uruguay

Pot Three:

Senegal
Iran
Japan
Morocco
Serbia
Poland
South Korea
Tunisia

 

Pot Four:

Cameroon
Canada
Ecuador
Saudi Arabia
Ghana
Intercontinental play-off placeholder 1 
Intercontinental play-off placeholder 2
UEFA play-off placeholder

Luck of the draw!

It goes without saying that, theoretically, being in pot one means you would be favourites to win your group. But that's the beauty of football; practically anything can happen once you're on the pitch.

If we look back to the last World Cup four years ago, defending champions Germany were top of the FIFA rankings and in pot one, but then failed to get through the group stage for the first time ever.

 

But just as being in a higher pot is no guarantee of going deep into the tournament, who's to say how eventual 2018 champions France would have fared had they been in pot two?

Les Bleus were ranked seventh at the time so squeezed into pot one ahead of Spain. While that arguably gave them a trickier route to the final in the knockout phase, perhaps the tests posed by Argentina, Uruguay and Belgium were what kept them sharp all the way to the end?

This time around, Spain do appear in pot one. Portugal do as well, with Fernando Santos' men benefiting in that regard from European champions Italy's shock absence.

Nevertheless, there are some powerful teams in pot two. The Netherlands and Germany are undoubtedly the pick of the bunch there, both of whom will provide a stern test for any of the teams in pot one. Brazil v Die Mannschaft in the group stage, anyone?

There's a chance we could even see a repeat of the 2018 final in the group stage, with Croatia (pot two) able to come up against France in the opening round, while an England v United States showdown would surely capture the imagination of fans on both sides of 'the pond'.

We can expect to see plenty of quality in pot three as well, especially with Serbia, Robert Lewandowski's Poland and African champions Senegal present.

Among those in pot four are Canada. They may only be competing in their second World Cup and first since 1986, but John Herdman's team have won plenty of admirers en route to winning the CONCACAF qualifying section and reaching a record high of 33rd in the rankings.

 

Excitement, expectations and exoduses as Ronaldo and Messi look likely to bow out

Whether watching football on TV or from the stands, it can often be easy to forget that our heroes are just ordinary people as well. They are individuals who in all likelihood had the same hopes and dreams as many of us as children.

The glitz and glamour surrounding professional football can lead us to put footballers on a pedestal, but behind the sport's shiny facade, our teams are made up of – and coached by – people who are just as obsessed with the idea of the World Cup as anyone else.

England manager Gareth Southgate encapsulated the excitement earlier this week, as he said: "[The World Cup evokes] a different sort of feeling, but it's still a tournament we all watched as kids, we all filled our wallcharts out, we all hoped and followed when England were there that we would do well. And it's a unique chance to make history, so that of course is massively exciting."

Of course, that innocent excitement harbours expectation and hope for many, for others there will be a feeling of responsibility to amend the wrongs of the past.

This time around, that's arguably truest when looking at Germany, with Manuel Neuer fully appreciating he may not get another opportunity to put things right.

"I know that I will probably not get to play many more World Cups, so after crashing out in 2018 in Russia and our exit against England [at Euro 2020], it's important that we show a new version of ourselves and visualise success," the experienced goalkeeper said.

That finality Neuer alluded to is another key aspect of the World Cup. Given the four-year cycle of the tournament, every time we bid a fond farewell to a few greats of the game who opt to take advantage of the cyclical nature and end their international careers.

 

This time it looks as though Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo – who for so long battled out their own personal 'Greatest of All-Time' rivalry – may be among those appearing on the World Cup stage for the last time.

"Goal achieved, we're at the Qatar World Cup. We're in our rightful place!" Ronaldo's Instagram post after Portugal's play-off success focused on the positive, but at 37, Qatar 2022 will surely be his final appearance at the tournament.

As for Messi, he said last week: "I don't know, the truth is I don't know. Let's hope [Argentina's preparations] go the best way possible. But for sure after the World Cup many things will change."

Exoduses after major international tournaments are common as teams reset or rebuild, but given what Messi and Ronaldo have represented on the pitch and the fact they've appeared at each of the previous four World Cups, their appearances at Qatar 2022 need to be savoured.

It all begins with Friday's draw, when narratives and talking points that'll live longer than any of us will start to take shape with the unscrewing of a few shiny plastic balls.

Despite a 1-1 draw against Germany on Tuesday, Netherlands coach Louis Van Gaal has been left satisfied with this international window.

The Oranje fell behind on the stroke of half-time through Thomas Muller's opener, which punctuated a dominant first half for Germany in Amsterdam.

Van Gaal's side regrouped and equalised thanks to substitute Steven Bergwijn, who gave the Netherlands added verve along with fellow substitutes Davy Klaasen and Georginio Wijnaldum in midfield.

Following a 4-2 win over Denmark on Saturday, the 70-year-old coach was ultimately pleased with the spirit his side showed.

"I think we've had a fantastic week," he said post-match. "We could have won twice. I don't think a draw against Germany is that bad. I think the public enjoyed the fight.

"Despite the dominance of the Germans in the first half, 0-0 at half-time would not have been crazy. Germany was very strong on the ball, but I think we were good defensively and didn't give away many chances, despite their dominance.

"In the second half we fought back and thanks to Frenkie de Jong we could play out under pressure from Germany. The crowd was also great in the second half. We scored a fantastic goal and could have also got a penalty, then we just win this game."

Losing the opening game of qualifying to eventual Group G runners-up Turkey in Istanbul, the Oranje went the rest of World Cup qualifying undefeated, including a 6-1 demolition in the return leg to claim a place at the Finals in Qatar.

Germany provided a necessary test for Van Gaal and his side, with the veteran tactician praising Die Mannschaft for causing them headaches.

"I understand that Memphis Depay didn't like the game, because he didn't have much of the ball," Van Gaal said post-match. "We weren't on the ball, especially in the first half. The guys who normally are and have to give balls to Memphis and [Donyell] Malen were not clean in passing, so we didn't have much time to attack in the first half.

"That also has to do with form and confidence, but that is also the quality of the German team who can intercept a lot of balls in midfield by applying well-grouped pressure."

Manuel Neuer believes Germany are certainly "on the right track" as they look to prepare for the 2022 World Cup.

Germany drew 1-1 with the Netherlands on Tuesday, with Thomas Muller breaking the deadlock on the stroke of half-time.

However, they were forced to settle for a draw after Steven Bergwijn equalised in the 68th minute.

Germany finished the game with 62 per cent possession, and forced Dutch goalkeeper Mark Flekken into four saves, two more than Neuer had to make at the other end.

Speaking to reporters, Neuer said this game was an important step on their road to the World Cup, with Germany having failed to impress at Euro 2020, while they crashed out in the group stages in Russia in 2018.

"On the way to Qatar we have to use every test and take every game seriously," he said.

"That was the first big team we played against, and that was decent for a long time.

"We have good character and are self-confident. You saw that today. If you draw a line under it, you can see that we're on the right track."

Goal-scorer Muller explained that despite being disappointed with how the game turned in the second half, this game was evidence of how Germany can impose their will on quality opposition.

"The opening goal in this atmosphere was a great moment, then we lost a bit of control – that's frustrating," he said. "But you could see that not only can we match good teams, we can dominate them."

Flick, who had won his first eight games in charge of Germany before this draw, was also complimentary of what he saw from his squad.

"There was a high intensity from both sides, we had them under pressure for 60 minutes," he said.

"I have to compliment my team, they play nice football and their style is refreshing. I'm really pleased."

Germany are next scheduled for Nations League fixtures against Italy on June 4 and England on June 7.

Hansi Flick's 100 per cent start as Germany head coach came to an end as Steven Bergwijn sealed a 1-1 friendly draw for the Netherlands on Tuesday.

Former Bayern Munich boss Flick took over the reins from Joachim Low in May 2021 and the 57-year-old had overseen wins in each of his eight games in charge before the trip to Amsterdam.

It looked like he would make it nine on the spin when Thomas Muller emphatically slammed home his 43rd international goal before the break.

Louis van Gaal's side had the final say, though, with Bergwijn powering home the equaliser midway through the second half.

Germany started brightly and went close in the 11th minute when Leroy Sane drilled into the side netting from a tight angle.

They threatened again 10 minutes later when Timo Werner's header from David Raum's cross crashed back off the underside of Mark Flekken's crossbar.

Donyell Malen then clipped just wide of Manuel Neuer's right-hand post under pressure from Antonio Rudiger in what was a rare sight of goal in the opening period for the hosts.

Germany deservedly went ahead in first-half stoppage time, with Muller lashing a crisp left-footed strike past Flekken after Jamal Musiala's cross had been deflected into his path.

Die Mannschaft's failure to find a second goal was punished in the 68th minute when substitute Bergwijn thundered home from six yards following Denzel Dumfries' downwards header.

The Netherlands were denied the chance to score a winner soon after when referee Craig Pawson overturned his initial penalty decision for Kehler's foul on Depay after viewing the pitch-side monitor. 

 

 

Hansi Flick expects a strong performance from his Germany team against the Netherlands, as he assesses his side's prospects ahead of the 2022 World Cup.

Germany travel to Amsterdam to face their historic rivals in on Tuesday, following Saturday's routine 2-0 win over Israel.

The Oranje, who have won their last 11 games on Dutch soil, should represent a sturdier test, with Flick seeking to build towards a major tournament revival after Germany's failing to make the 2018 World Cup and then underwhelming at Euro 2020.

The former Bayern Munich coach is anticipating a tough contest against Louis van Gaal's side, and is expected to name a strong team after announcing that he wants to win the game "at all costs".

"It will be a good indicator for us," Flick told a pre-match press conference.

"We want to put in a good team performance, try and put our opponents under pressure, force them into mistakes and play our own game.

"I want to win the game at all costs."

Flick will be able to include goalkeeper Manuel Neuer and defender Antonio Rudiger among his starting XI, though he was giving nothing else away.

"All of the players here are available to play," Flick added. "We're very much looking forward to testing ourselves against the Netherlands.

"Neuer and Rudiger will both start.

"Everything else we'll decide in due course, but we will have an incredibly well-prepared team out on the pitch."

Kai Havertz says Chelsea stars are drawing strength from coach Thomas Tuchel amid uncertainty over the club's future.

The Blues are in the midst of a takeover process after Roman Abramovich put the club up for sale, amid sanctions imposed on him by the UK government during the Ukraine-Russia crisis.

Several interested parties, including bids fronted by Chicago Cubs owners the Ricketts family and a consortium fronted by Todd Boehly, remain in the mix to become the new owners.

This has seen Chelsea face unexpected uncertainty, including a cap on away travel spending and a ban on signing players to new contracts.

Through it all, however, manager Tuchel has remained a central figure for the Chelsea squad, and Germany international Havertz says the players look to him for guidance.

"Many people in our club and its environment draw strength from what Thomas Tuchel says," Havertz told Die Welt.

"It's remarkable how he and the whole staff are dealing with the current situation.

"We're all trying to concentrate on the games, we can't influence everything else.

"The priority for us now is that the war is stopped and that there is finally peace in Ukraine again."

Chelsea will be back in action on April 2, when they welcome Brentford to Stamford Bridge.

Havertz and Blues team-mate Timo Werner scored for Germany in their 2-0 friendly win over Israel on Saturday.

Julian Draxler implied he will likely leave Paris Saint-Germain at the end of the season due to a lack of minutes.

Draxler played all 90 minutes in Germany's 2-0 friendly win against Israel on Saturday, with Chelsea duo Kai Havertz and Timo Werner contributing the two goals.

He arrived at Paris Saint-Germain from Wolfsburg in 2017, racking up 131 appearances and 17 goals for the French giants, but his playing time has plummeted this season.

Draxler has been brought on as a substitute in his past six appearances for PSG dating back to February 19, playing no more than 25 minutes in any of the short cameos.

Speaking with SPORT1, Draxler highlighted his joy in having an extended run, and the struggles that come with being out of favour back at his club.

"I'm glad that I played 90 minutes again after a long time," he said.

"My situation in the club is not easy – I lack the rhythm and I need to play more games.

"I haven't spoken to the national coach about it, but he has already told us as a team that he needs fit players who are in rhythm. You'll see what happens in the summer."

Hansi Flick praised Germany's "brave" approach after they racked up an eighth straight win under his leadership against Israel on Saturday.

Die Mannschaft went ahead in the 36th minute courtesy of Kai Havertz's near-post header from a corner, before Timo Werner added a second in first-half stoppage time with an instinctive finish from Ilkay Gundogan's free-kick.

Thomas Muller squandered a golden opportunity to add a third in the 89th minute, crashing a penalty against the post, while Israel also missed from 12 yards a few minutes later when Kevin Trapp denied Yonatan Cohen.

The result meant Germany have won all eight games under Flick since he took over from Joachim Low last year, scoring 33 goals and conceding just two.

Flick was pleased with his side's display and highlighted their prowess from set pieces during his fledgling reign. 

"I'm satisfied. We played very bravely and pressed them hard," he told reporters. "Overall, we can be happy with all parts of the team. I think it's great how they rewarded themselves.

"We have scored six goals from set pieces in eight games, that's something to be proud of."

Werner's strike was his 22th in the colours of Die Mannschaft, and Flick was pleased with his contribution given his reduced game time for Chelsea in recent months,

"Timo hasn't played for a long time, only made a few appearances," he added. "You can already tell that the rhythm is missing.

"Of course, I'm pleased that he scored a goal. It's also extremely important for a striker to know where the goal is and he's someone who keeps trying, keeps going deep."

Israel's penalty was awarded for Nico Schlotterbeck's clumsy trip on Cohen after he had cheaply lost possession, and Flick warned the Freiburg full-back that mistakes like that will be punished at the World Cup.

"At this level you just have to be fully focused for 90 minutes," he said. "Such a mistake at the World Cup could be deadly. Up until then he had done very well."

Germany face Netherlands in another friendly and Tuesday, with Flick eagerly awaiting the opportunity to pit his wits against a coaching idol of his, Louis van Gaal.

"We're looking forward to this duel," he added. "I'm happy that we're playing against Louis van Gaal. 

"He's someone who gave me a lot in my coaching career, because I appreciated Dutch football very much, loved it very much and kept learning from there. 

"He was definitely one of the great coaches from whom I took a lot with me."

Timo Werner revealed he prefers playing in Germany's system than Chelsea's after scoring in Die Mannschaft's 2-0 international friendly win over Israel.

There was a strong Chelsea flavour in Germany's victory, with Kai Havertz netting the first goal in the 36th minute before Werner doubled the advantage in first-half stoppage time.

The goal was Werner's 22nd for his country in his 48th cap, but despite being a significant part of Chelsea's plans, he has had less success in at Stamford Bridge.

Werner has scored seven goals in 28 appearances this season for the Blues and suggested Germany coach Hansi Flick is utilising him better than Thomas Tuchel.

"I'm a striker and always want to score," he said.

"Things aren't going the way I'd like at Chelsea, so it's all the better that things are going well here under Hansi Flick.

"I really enjoy playing football, no matter where I'm playing. There are differences in the style of play between football at Chelsea and here.

"Maybe the one at the national team suits me better. Here, I always have scoring chances, I can score goals. I feel very comfortable here."

Germany made it eight wins on the spin as goals from Kai Havertz and Timo Werner sealed a 2-0 friendly win over Israel at the PreZero Arena on Saturday. 

Die Mannschaft rounded off their World Cup qualifying campaign with a 4-1 victory over Armenia in November, and they picked up where they left off against Gadi Brumer's side in Sinsheim. 

Havertz gave them a 36th-minute lead with a smart near-post header, before Timo Werner's 22nd international goal on the stroke of half-time ensured they had a healthy advantage at the interval. 

Hansi Flick's side were content to play out the second period at a more pedestrian pace, although there was late drama as Thomas Muller and Yonatan Cohen exchanged penalty misses. 

Despite Germany's dominant start, they did not carve out a shot on target until the 29th minute when Ofir Marciano got down well to repel Havertz's effort, with Julian Draxler prodding the rebound into the side netting.

Ilkay Gundogan curled straight at Marciano from a promising position soon after, before the Israel goalkeeper raced off his line to deny a clean-through Havertz.

The Chelsea forward was not to be denied from David Raum's resulting corner, however, heading home his eighth international goal from inside the six-yard box.

The hosts doubled their advantage in first-half stoppage time through an unmarked Werner steering in Gundogan's indirect free-kick at the near post.

Only a superb Marciano save denied Thilo Kehrer a third on the hour mark as Germany continued to dominate after the break.

Muller fluffed his lines from 12 yards in the 89th minute after Lukas Nmecha had been brought down inside the area, while Cohen saw his spot-kick saved by Kevin Trapp after he had been tripped by Nico Schlotterbeck.

What does it mean? Flick's men shaping up nicely for Qatar

Germany were utterly dominant throughout, yet Flick will not get carried away given Israel are a whopping 66 places beneath them in FIFA's world rankings.

Still, this was further proof that Die Mannschaft are in rude health and will be a force to be reckoned with at the World Cup in Qatar later this year.

Havertz shines for hosts

He was less threatening after the interval, yet Havertz was comfortably Germany's brightest spark. The 22-year-old had a game-high five shots, while no player on the pitch made more key passes (four).

Dabbur an isolated figure

Hoffenheim striker Munas Dabbur scarcely had a look in at the stadium where he plays his club football, with the isolated frontman substituted in the 74th minute having had just a single shot.

What's next?

Both sides are in friendly action again on Tuesday, with Germany travelling to Netherlands and Israel hosting Romania.

Ilkay Gundogan has revealed the personal torment he feels over Russia's invasion of Ukraine, detailing a close family connection to the war-torn country.

Manchester City and Germany star Gundogan explained in an interview with German magazine Kicker that his brother's wife is Ukrainian.

Gundogan says he has found himself lost for words over the crisis, which has lasted over a month, and says he would value peace in Ukraine over anything football might bring him.

The 31-year-old is chasing a Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League treble with City, and with Germany he hopes to be pushing for World Cup glory in November and December.

At club level, Gundogan is a team-mate of Ukrainian defender Oleksandr Zinchenko, and he tries to summon the right words to support a player who has been in despair while missiles strike his homeland and Russian tanks enter cities.

"It's so hard to deal with. We try to support him," Gundogan said of Zinchenko.

"My brother's wife is also Ukrainian, therefore the war also affects my family directly. We spoke on the phone the other day, but I couldn't find the words.

"You offer any help, but there is no template for how to properly deal with this terrible situation."

Asked whether the prospect of a treble was blighted by concerns over war, Gundogan said: "Definitely. As beautiful as football is and as much joy as it brings us, there is nothing more important than health and peace."

Gundogan repeated a recent message that he would be keen to stay at City beyond the end of his current contract, which expires next year.

"I'm very happy at Manchester City, football-wise there isn't a more attractive place at the moment," he said. "I can imagine staying there beyond 2023. There are no concrete talks, but we have a good relationship. I'm still patient. There's no hurry."

Gundogan is on Germany duty at present, with a friendly against Israel coming up on Saturday.

Whether midfielder Gundogan plays on for Hansi Flick's Germany beyond the World Cup remains to be seen.

He will turn 32 in October and will be nudging towards 34 by the time Germany host the next European Championship in 2024.

"If the mind and body allow it, the European Championship can be a topic," he said. "I'll decide after the World Cup."

Julian Weigl was taken aback by his recall to the Germany squad after a five-year absence, having previously been considered a potential future superstar.

Weigl rose to prominence at Borussia Dortmund, earning his first senior Germany cap 14 months after moving to BVB from 1860 Munich in 2015 as a 19-year-old.

His form during his first couple of seasons in the Bundesliga drew links with some of Europe's biggest clubs, with Paris Saint-Germain, Barcelona and Manchester City apparently particularly keen on the talented deep-lying playmaker.

But he struggled to maintain that level after Thomas Tuchel's exit and was frustrated by untimely injuries, ultimately falling out of favour and being sold to Benfica for a reported €20million in January 2020.

The move was indicative of the decline in Weigl's reputation and he was being linked with another move less than a year after joining Benfica due to early struggles with Jorge Jesus.

But this season he has become a key figure and played in seven of Benfica's eight matches en route to the Champions League quarter-finals, helping him back into the Germany setup.

"When the coach called me, I was with my team-mate Soualiho Meite. I couldn't believe that Hansi [Flick] had called me and that I'd missed it," he told reporters.

"I knew I had to call him back. I was absolutely thrilled, we chatted for a short while and then I immediately rang my parents and my wife. They were some emotional phone calls. My family and my wife were also over the moon.

"I was extremely pleased when I got the call from Hansi. I wasn't expecting it. When you're putting in good performances for your club, you do get your hopes up a little bit, but it still came as a surprise.

"I was looking forward to seeing the lads again, and so I arrive here with a really positive energy. I've always looked out for when the national squad gets announced, and I'm more than aware that you have to be performing at the top level at your club week-in, week-out to earn your selection.

"But I never once said to myself at any time that my performances deserved to be rewarded with a call-up – I simply tried to keep concentration on myself and my game. Because of that, the eventual call-up was even more of a pleasant surprise."

Despite the promise he showed early on at Dortmund, Weigl only ever featured five times for Germany.

His most recent outing was 66 minutes in a friendly with England way back in March 2017 – now 26, Weigl does not think his playing style has changed significantly, but leaving Germany helped him grow and he feels better physically.

"Generally speaking, I'm still the same player," he continued. "What's changed is that I've become more mature and more experienced – playing abroad has certainly helped me in this regard, as well as becoming a father.

"My daughter helps me to relax, as my life is so fast-paced. I've improved from a physical perspective, too."

Weigl's recall comes at a potentially critical moment as well. With the World Cup starting in less than eight months, the midfielder surely has a genuine opportunity of being in the selection that travels to Qatar.

He is now focused on proving to Flick that he is worthy of consideration.

"I'm trying to show off what I can do every day that I'm here, as well as take on board the ideas of the head coach and work them into my game," he said.

"I'm asking for the ball a lot in the sessions and I'm not afraid to do so, because that's how I'm going to prove to the head coach that I'm a serious option for the World Cup squad, because I can be relied upon at any time and that I can put in a solid performance when needed."

Germany, who have already qualified for the World Cup, will face Israel and the Netherlands in friendlies during this international window.

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