0Shares0000Germany’s head coach Joachim Loew oversees a training session on the eve of a friendly match against France, in Cologne, on November 13, 2017 © AFP/File / PATRIK STOLLARZBERLIN, Germany, Nov 30 – Joachim Loew is comfortable with Germany carrying the favourites tag for next year’s World Cup, but the head coach has a few areas to strengthen before his team’s title defence in Russia.England or Spain are lurking in pot two as potential group-stage opponents for the world champions in Friday’s draw at Moscow. Loew talked about the 2018 finals as being “the hardest tournament so far” of his 12-year reign in charge, because the Germans will be the team to beat.“I am completely relaxed and don’t have any sleepless nights,” insisted Loew after a 2-2 draw against France in their final friendly of 2017 a fortnight ago.Germany are in rude health and unbeaten in their last 21 internationals, dating back to the defeat by France in the Euro 2016 semi-finals.“We have worked on building an incredibly good base. We know what we can do, so I am not nervous anymore about our preparations,” he added.Germany’s players pose for the team photograph ahead of their friendly match against England, at Wembley Stadium in London, on November 10, 2017 © AFP/File / Glyn KIRKLoew’s goal is to arrive in Russia with every position covered, but he needs key players to return from injury and to find understudies for wing-backs Jonas Hector and Joshua Kimmich.Borussia Dortmund playmaker Marco Reus has been out since May with a knee injury, while captain and goalkeeper Manuel Neuer is not expected back until January at the earliest after fracturing his foot.Juventus defender Benedikt Hoewedes and Dortmund winger Andre Schuerrle, both of whom played in the 2014 final victory over Argentina, are out of form.– Midfield options –However, he is not short of options, especially in midfield.Manchester City’s Ilkay Gundogan is back fit after a serious knee injury while Mario Goetze, whose extra-time goal won the final three years ago, is shining in a struggling Dortmund team after recovering from a metabolic disorder.Loew’s gamble to rest all of his 2014 stars and take an inexperienced squad to the Confederations Cup in Russia earlier this year paid off when they beat Chile 1-0 to win the tournament.Midfielder Leon Goretzka and forward Lars Stindl forced their way into Loew’s World Cup plans with strong displays.Timo Werner proved himself as a fleet-footed striker with great finishing, ending Germany’s wait for a replacement for Miroslav Klose.The World Cup’s all-time top-scorer with 16 goals retired from international duty after Brazil, and will carry the trophy onto the stage for the draw.The Germans cruised through qualifying with 10 wins, and Loew has secured tough opponents for friendlies next March, against Spain in Duesseldorf and Brazil in Berlin, to further test his plans.This will be his last chance to look at potential combinations before the squad is announced in May and by his own admission, Germany are not yet firing on all cylinders.In November friendlies, Gareth Southgate’s England were unlucky to finish with only a goalless draw after largely outplaying the Germans at Wembley.Only a last-gasp equaliser from Stindl rescued another draw with France in Cologne.“Even after this outstanding year, our game still needs to click, things need to become automatic,” said Loew.It is still unclear where the Germans will be based for the World Cup, the main options being Moscow and Sochi.Team manager Oliver Bierhoff preaches the practicalities of Moscow, the main hub for flights around the world’s biggest country.However, the players raved about the benefits of Sochi’s beach and sea-air when they were based on the Black Sea for the Confederations Cup.“One has to look at lots of aspects, also the logistics,” said Bierhoff.0Shares0000(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today)
“Let’s raise a trophy,” Schweinsteiger said in a statement issued by the club. “I believe in this club and I believe that we can be champions.“This American journey has been very special for me and my family,” added Schweinsteiger, who is married to former WTA tennis player Ana Ivanovic. “I love being a part of the Chicago Fire and we appreciate how the city has embraced us with open arms.”Schweinsteiger, who won a World Cup with Germany and a Champions League crown with Bayern Munich, joined Chicago in March of 2017 from Manchester United.Schweinsteiger made an immediate impact, helping Chicago to the league’s third-highest regular season points total and earning a berth in the MLS Cup Playoffs in his debut campaign.But the Fire, who were MLS Cup champions in 1998, failed to qualify for the playoffs this season, finishing second from bottom in the Eastern Conference with just eight wins in 34 matches.0Shares0000(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today) 0Shares0000Bastian Schweinsteiger (pictured August 2018), who will be playing his third MLS season, earned $6.1 million in total compensation in 2018 © AFP/File / Christof STACHECHicagp, United States, Nov 29 – Former Germany star Bastian Schweinsteiger has inked a one-year extension that will keep him with the Chicago Fire through 2019, the Major League Soccer team said Wednesday.Terms of the deal were not announced but Schweinsteiger, who will be playing his third MLS season, earned $6.1 million in total compensation in 2018, according to figures from the MLS Players Association.