Qatar World Cup: Antonio Rudiger says that Germany cannot be counted out despite inconsistent form

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Antonio Rudiger is ready to kickstart his 2022 FIFA World Cup campaign with “a clear mind”, saying that no one should count Germany out.

Germany are in Qatar, ready to brush away the disappointment of 2018, crashing out in the group stages under Joachim Low. With Hansi Flick, Germany have a squad full of talented youngsters, meaning Rudiger has to “step up to be one of the leaders.”

Despite the managerial change, results over the last year have shown that this German team is still inconsistent, a point that Rudiger is well aware of before the tournament.

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“Honestly, if we speak about favourites, we have to speak about form. And before the last international break, you look at teams like Brazil and France. I think because of our current form, maybe not so much,” he said in an interview with The Guardian.

“But we are a big nation and have a good team. You can never count us out. Anything can happen.”

“We don’t need to be afraid of anyone. It’s football. If you’re really tight together, it can be very helpful. We have to get the job done. We have played many great games. Now it’s the big stage. I’m not worried. We have a fantastic group.”

Germany’s last competitive match was against England at Wembley. Despite being 2-0 up by the 67th minute, goals from Luke Shaw and Mason Mount saw the Three Lions level up the scoring. Late goals from Harry Kane and Kai Havertz meant that the match ended 3-3.

“I watched that game from home. I think both teams were not at their best. We need to improve. We need to manage the game better. If you’re winning 2-0 you cannot give it away in four minutes.”

When asked if the German team let the lead go due to experience, Rudiger said: “Maybe a little bit. But the goals we conceded were a little bit too easy. This has nothing to do with experience – it’s just a lack of focus. We are not robots. We all make mistakes. But you try to avoid those easy ones where you lack concentration. That’s the pressure that comes with this high level. You cannot have this lack of focus.”

Much has been made of the World Cup being held in the months of November and December, a first. The top leagues in Europe have had to prolong their seasons to fit in the tournament, and the tight turnaround has seen several big stars set to miss out due to injury.

“It’s new for everyone. You hear about injuries popping up. Somewhere in the back of the head, you’re thinking about it. What can you do? You just go with the wind.”

The World Cup has also received a lot of attention due to FIFA’s choice to hand hosting rights to Qatar back in 2010: “I was not even a professional. I am going to play in a World Cup, and I want to enjoy the tournament. It’s the first time it’s in an Arab country. I go there with a clear mind.”

Germany will begin their tournament against Japan on Wednesday before taking on Spain and Costa Rica.

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