Berlin (AFP) – Joachim Loew says Germany duo Joshua Kimmich and Andre Schuerrle need more matches — and to spend less time on the bench — for their Bundesliga clubs ahead of next year’s World Cup defence.
Neither Kimmich nor Schuerrle are first-choice starters for their clubs with both facing stiff competition at Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund respectively.
But the pair played the full 90 minutes of Germany’s 4-1 win at Azerbaijan in Sunday’s World Cup qualifier, leaving Loew’s men five points clear in Group C, with Kimmich at right-back and Schuerrle on the left wing.
While ex-Germany captain Philipp Lahm occupies Bayern’s right-back berth and with Carlo Ancelotti spoiled for choice in midfield, the Italian currently has no place for Kimmich in his preferred starting line-up.
Likewise, Thomas Tuchel has Schuerrle down the pecking order at Dortmund with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Christian Pulisic, Marco Reus and Ousmane Dembele also vying for starting berths.
Nevertheless Loew, Germany’s World Cup-winning coach, foresees Kimmich and Schuerrle as firmly in his plans for this June’s Confederations Cup and the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
Schuerrle supplied the cross which Mario Goetze converted for the winning goal in the 2014 World Cup final, while Kimmich is Loew’s primary option at right-back.
– Limited chances –
But with Russia in mind, the Germany coach says the pair must get more game time in the Bundesliga.
“Andre made a good impression with me last week, physically he is very fit and has trained well,” said Loew.
“I hope the game in Azerbaijan will give him a boost for the coming weeks in Dortmund.
“I would wish that players like him or Joshua Kimmich get more game time. But I cannot tell the club coaches what to do.”
Dortmund signed Schuerrle for 30 million euros ($32.5 million) from Wolfsburg last July.
Yet so far this season the 26-year-old has completed the full 90 minutes in just five of 25 league games. He has though flourished on the international stage and repaid the faith shown him by Loew.
“I feel really good in the national team and am very happy to get that trust again. It really does me good,” said Schuerrle.
Dortmund chief executive Hans-Joachim Watzke admits the club’s strength in depth hamstrings Schuerrle.
“With his qualities, Andre would play from the start at any other club in the world,” Watzke told German daily Bild.
“Alongside Aubameyang, Pulisic, Reus and Dembele, we have five top players for three positions — that’s why it has not been easy for Andre.
“That will change again, but basically it is easier to get playing time with the national team than at Bayern or Dortmund.”
Similarly, the 22-year-old Kimmich has played from start to finish in the league just twice since mid-October.
He rocketed into Loew’s plans after only making his Bayern debut in August 2015, under Ancelotti’s predecessor Pep Guardiola, but nailing down a place in the Bundesliga giants’ star-studded side has proved challenging.
– Shooting star –
Kimmich can play in either defence or midfield, but his flexibility means Ancelotti has increasingly used him off the bench this season.
“To play two games over the 90 minutes was extremely important for me, because I have got the rhythm you need, simply the feeling for the game,” Kimmich told Die Welt after featuring against England and Azerbaijan.
“It’s already something when you are on the pitch from the start, compared to when you come on for 10, 15 minutes.
“You are more involved and, as a young player, it clearly improves me.”
Kimmich, at home most in defensive midfield, struggled in the first half against England as he re-adjusted to playing at right-back.
“It’s a position in which I haven’t played or trained for the last four-and-a-half months,” he admitted.
Loew says Kimmich’s future lies on the right side of Germany’s defence and, with Lahm to retire from all football in June, he hopes Ancelotti sees things the same way — or he risks losing a prized asset.
“It would be nice if Bayern could plan with him in this position,” said Loew.
“At the European Championship Kimmich exploded out of nowhere and still has his whole career ahead of him, so it goes without saying that they will want to keep him.”