Germany first to World Cup but work remains

Sports | 13 Oct 2021

Germany are on the right track ahead of next year's football World Cup in Qatar after becoming the first European nation to qualify, but the players know there is still considerable work to be done to reach world-class level.

The four-time world champions crushed North Macedonia 4-0 in Skopje to secure top spot in Group J with two games left to play, as they look to make amends for their shock first-round exit at the 2018 World Cup and their round-of-16 elimination at the European Championship last June.

"We should keep our sights low at the moment," midfielder Leon Goretzka said. "There were a lot of things in the game that we need to be better.

"We have the quality but we also have to grow together as a team. We are on the right track but still have work to do."

A second-half double by Timo Werner and one goal each from Kai Havertz and Jamal Musiala secured Germany's fifth win in as many games under new coach Hansi Flick, lifting them to 21 points, with Romania in second place on 13.

All group winners in European qualification automatically secure a place in Qatar.

"It was perfect. We got what we wanted, qualified as quickly as possible," said Flick, who succeeded Joachim Loew earlier this year.

Flick seems to have found the right mix of youth and experience, with veteran Thomas Muller indispensable once more after having been dropped by Loew for two years.

Germany have scored 18 goals and conceded four in their last five matches.

"The last few games have shown what kind of quality there is in our team," Havertz said.

Elsewhere, Kieffer Moore's early strike gave Wales a vital 1-0 victory in Estonia in Tallinn to keep a playoff spot from Group E in their sights.

In Rotterdam, Memphis Depay continued his goal scoring spree for the Netherlands as they thrashed Gibraltar 6-0 to stay on course for automatic qualification from Group G.

Depay scored twice, including one from the penalty spot while squandering another spot-kick, to take his goal tally in the World Cup qualifiers to nine.


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