German national team legend Lothar Matthaus, who was in Qatar for the inter-confederation playoffs final between Costa Rica and New Zealand, feels the conditions in the Middle East country will be ideal for a winter World Cup.
“It’s perfect. 1986 in Mexico was so hot, it was 45 degrees in Monterrey and it was 50 in America (1994). We have it in November-December and it’s perfect weather to play football in the evening. Nobody can say it’s too hot or too cold.
We will have a big football party in Qatar. We will have good high-level games,” said Matthaus, who has 150 international caps.
Matthaus, who led Germany to the 1990 World Cup title, believes teams will have to tailor their preparations for the new format.
“It’s going to be a three-month league season [before Qatar World Cup]. In Germany, we normally have a month-long winter break and at the end of a season, a player in England [with additional cup competition] comes to the World Cup having played six games or more than players from Germany and Spain.
But this time, Bundesliga stops one week before the World Cup so it’s different from other World Cups. You have to find the right and the best way to prepare,” he said.
Germany, which crashed out in the opening round in 2018, is part of a tough group alongside Spain, Japan and Costa Rica.
Mathhaus believes current coach Flick has been doing a better job than what Loew did, in his last few years in charge of Germany. – GETTY IMAGES
The four-time champion bid goodbye to former coach Joachim Loew last year and will be coached by Hansi Flick, Matthaus’ teammate in both the German national team and Bayern Munich, in Qatar.
“He [Flick] is doing better than Loew’s last few years [in charge]. He communicates with players face-to-face, and he is explaining why he makes a decision with his players.
He explains to them why was the reason he chose a specific playing XI. I think it’s especially very important for each player why they are not playing. He is honest and you believe him and under Hansi Flick, I believe maybe they can go seven games [to the final] in this tournament,” said Matthaus.
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While Matthaus circled in on the traditional favourites – Brazil, Argentina, France, Germany, England, Spain and Portugal – to lift the title but didn’t put his money in the hat on a definitive pick.
“It’s always tough to play the World Cup. Small things make a difference. Brazil is one of the favourites but that doesn’t mean they will win the World Cup. They lost only two points in qualification. France can field three first Xis. But favourites will never win the World Cup, there is a lot of pressure, hopes and dreams.
It will be a tough World Cup and its new style [winter World Cup] and organisation. Brazil, France, Germany, England, Spain, Argentina, and Portugal. It used to be only about Messi now with Argentina, but they have a different team spirit now. They have a chance to the final and far. But it’s the result, not the performance makes the difference,” he said.
(The writer was in Qatar at the invitation of the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy)