Sunday 17 November 2019

Sane snub a declaration of German strength

In 12 outings for Germany, Opta say Leroy Sane has provided one assist and no goals. Photo: Getty Images
In 12 outings for Germany, Opta say Leroy Sane has provided one assist and no goals. Photo: Getty Images

Paul Hayward

The closest England could get to an outrage was leaving Joe Hart at home and deciding Jonjo Shelvey was probably not the new Andrea Pirlo. Leroy Sane, on the other hand, would have been carried head-high into Gareth Southgate's squad.

Sane's omission by Joachim Loew is a declaration of German strength as well as a sharp reminder of the quality arrayed against Southgate's men in Russia.

A dazzling presence in the Manchester City side who won the Premier League at a canter, Sane evidently paid the price for not matching those standards at international level in a more central position than he occupies for Pep Guardiola.

The scary part is that Loew was able to opt for a player, Julian Brandt, who is tipped for global prominence by those who study Germany's development system.

In other words, Germany had too many good young players and elected to go without one who scored 14 times for Guardiola's English champions.

The news broke on the same day Brazil were rejoicing over Neymar's comeback from injury and Mohamed Salah's presence for Egypt was confirmed, though Liverpool's finest player is likely to miss his country's first game.


England are sailing towards Russia on calm seas, with a clear playing style, a clever manager and a handful of attacking players capable of hurting opponents.

Optimism would be too strong a description of the mood around their camp but greater self-assurance and calm are visible. Only when the comings and goings of the game's real superpowers are considered can England's odds of 20-1 (best price) be measured.

In one manic Monday, Russia 2018 ceased to feel like a political football floating around the summer and started to be a process of hard decisions around tactics and individual talent.

The list of players not required in Russia is formidable: Sane, Anthony Martial, Cesc Fabregas, Mauro Icardi, Radja Nainggolan, Javi Martinez, Dimitri Payet, Alexandre Lacazette, Karim Benzema, Alvaro Morata, Marcos Alonso, Hector Bellerin and Ruben Neves. In this context, Hart and Shelvey can feel less aggrieved.

In 12 outings for Germany, Opta say Sane had provided one assist and no goals. He made Germany's provisional 27-man squad and even played 67 minutes of Sunday's 2-1 defeat by Austria, which left Loew irritated.

A day later, Sane joined Bernd Leno and Jonathan Tah of Bayer Leverkusen and Freiburg's Nils Petersen in the search for last-minute luxury holidays.

The Premier League gasped to see such a potent player shoved aside, but in Germany team structure is more highly valued and Loew's judgment generally trusted. Why would it not be after the Mannschaft became the first European team to win a World Cup in the Americas?

"It was a tight decision between him (Sane) and Julian Brandt which went in favour of Brandt," Loew said.

"There are better days in the life of a national team coach, when you have to send (home) four amazing players, who deserve to be at the World Cup.

"(For them) it's like being at the airport check-in en route to Moscow and you are not allowed to board the plane."

Coaches play Russian roulette with public opinion in these areas and hardly any get to arrive at a World Cup controversy-free, which is why Southgate has been so fortunate - or played his hand so well.

In France, Didier Deschamps may stand or fall by his rejection of several major talents in a squad where personal chemistry is a national fixation.

Manchester United's Martial, however, can hardly claim to have mesmerised the Old Trafford crowd last season.

Belgium have taken the other kind of risk, picking City's Vincent Kompany despite his latest injury.

Neymar, who scored against Croatia at Anfield, has danced back on to the stage with classic thespian timing. Here, Brazil possess a household name capable of relegating Roberto Firmino and Gabriel Jesus to junior roles.

Neymar underwent foot surgery in March and was not seen in the warm-up at Anfield, where he replaced Fernandinho at half-time, yet the World Cup favourites departed Liverpool emboldened in their quest to bury the memory of their 7-1 defeat by Germany on home turf in 2014.

England lack a world-class No 10, or dominating central midfielder, but they do have players who might seize their chance to be international luminaries. Sane is now one less danger for them to worry about. (© The Daily Telegraph)

The Left Wing: Champions Cup preview, the World Cup hangover and Joe Schmidt's next team

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport