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Bierhoff hopes “power football” by Germany can boost home crowds

Berlin (AFP) – Oliver Bierhoff says Germany want to brush aside minnows Belarus with a display of “power football” in their bid to wrap up Euro 2020 qualification on Saturday and also boost flagging ticket sales.

Germany host Belarus in Moenchengladbach on Saturday when main Group C rivals the Netherlands also play a tricky away tie in Belfast against Northern Ireland, who the Germans host in Frankfurt in next Tuesday’s final qualifier.

The Germans and Dutch are level on 15 points with the top two teams going through, so Germany can wrap up Euro 2020 qualification on Saturday for next June’s finals against Belarus by bettering third-placed Northern Ireland’s result against Holland.

However, home fans are unenthusiastic about seeing die Mannschaft live with around a third of tickets for the games against Belarus and Northern Ireland still available.

Only 30,000 of the 46,000 tickets in Moenchengladbach, each costing between 80 ($88) and 25 euros, and 37,000 of the 48,500 in Frankfurt, have been sold. 

While priority in both games is a resounding win, team director Bierhoff wants eye-catching displays to win back disgruntled fans, some of whom have been turned off since defending champions Germany failed to qualify from their 2018 World Cup group at last year’s finals.

In October, Dortmund’s stadium was also a third empty for the 2-2 draw with Argentina, however last September’s 4-2 defeat against Holland, Germany’s only defeat so far in their Euro 2020 qualifiers, was a sellout.

“We have to try to play power football for 90 minutes and make it attractive, then there is a reason for every fan to enjoy going to a game,” said Bierhoff.

Enthusiasm to see the national team play has dwindled since 2014 when German fans were eager to see the team which won the World Cup in Brazil.

After “a long phase of enthusiasm in which things almost ran by themselves,” admitted Bierhoff, “we have to be aware that we have to do more to maintain” fans enthusiasm.

Germany captain Manuel Neuer says the 8:45 pm (1945 GMT) kick-offs do little to encourage fans.

“The kick-off times are getting later and the weather isn’t optimal in Germany in November,” said Neuer.

“With all due respect, we aren’t playing against the top teams, where you can expect every fan to come to see us.”

Germany’s goalkeeper, 33, says a packed list of club fixtures in the Bundesliga, German Cup and Champions League until the January break is also a factor, “there are many more games than there used to be” for fans to attend.

Germany are rebuilding their squad after head coach Joachim Loew jettisoned veterans Thomas Mueller, Mats Hummels and Jerome Boateng in March to bring in fresh blood and Bierhoff asked for  patience with the young team. 

“It’s understandable that it doesn’t always work 90 minutes for a young team,” he added.

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