The 2018/19 Bundesliga may have ended but the season is still not over for eight Blue-Whites players. Four Herthaner have received nominations to represent their senior national teams for the upcoming EURO 2020 qualifiers, including Niklas Stark who could make his Die Mannschaft debut. Four more players have travelled from Berlin to South Tyrol for a training camp with the Germany U21s ahead of the European Championships in Italy and San Marino this month. The quartet will hope to receive nominations for the final 23-man squad. Here is everything you need to know for this international break.
Stark hopes for senior Germany debut against Belarus or Estonia
Niklas Stark has been called up to the senior Germany squad for the second time by Die Mannschaft head coach Joachim Löw. The centre-back will hope to make a dream come true and make his Germany debut in either Saturday’s EURO 2020 qualifier away in Borisov against Belarus (20:45 CEST) or on Tuesday at home to Estonia in Mainz (20:45 CEST). In the absence of head coach Löw, who is currently recovering from a sporting accident, Marcus Sorg will lead the side for the two qualifiers and knows Stark from his time in the Germany youth teams. “I know him from when he was head coach of the Germany U19 so this situation isn’t that strange for me,” said Hertha’s number five. “I’ve been given the opportunity to gather valuable experience and hope to now make my Die Mannschaft debut. Just because the head coach is unable to be with us doesn’t mean that we are not giving everything we have in training. Everyone is showing maximum effort and we have all accepted the current situation.” On the pitch, Stark and his colleagues have a clear target in mind: securing all six points. “We will go into both of these matches as the favourites and want to show why we are favourites,” added the defender. “We have to approach these matches with full concentration and show our opponents from the first second that they won’t be taking any points off us.”
Lazaro, Duda and Pekarik set to feature in EURO 2020 qualifiers
Valentino Lazaro has been called up to the Austria squad for their two upcoming EURO 2020 qualifiers, which could prove to be vital after Austria began their campaign with two defeats. Lazaro will hope to feature on Friday evening at home against Slovenia in Klagenfurt (20:45 CEST) before Austria travel to Skopje on Monday evening to take on North Macedonia (20:45 CEST). “These two matches, especially Friday’s game with Slovenia, will feel similar to a final for us. We will do everything possible to secure the right results and secure all six available points,” stressed Austrian head coach Franco Foda.
Peter Pekarik and Ondrej Duda have both received nominations to represent Slovakia in their friendly against Jordan in Trnava’s Štadión Antona Malatinského (20:30 CEST) and their EURO 2020 qualifier away against Azerbaijan in Baku on Tuesday (18:00 CEST). Ahead of the crucial tie with Azerbaijan, Pekarik wants his side to bring all three points back to Slovakia. “We want to give ourselves a lot of self-confidence for the Azerbaijan match by giving a good performance against Jordan. We then simply want to win against Azerbaijan.”
Hertha duo in Germany U21s squad, Kiprit in action for Turkey U21s
Stefan Kuntz named four Blue-Whites players in his provisional Germany U21s squad for the upcoming European Championship. Arne Maier, Maximilian Mittelstädt, Jordan Torunarigha and Lukas Klünter were all called up, meaning that Hertha had more representatives in Kuntz’s provisional squad than any other club. “In Berlin, they have been developing young talent in exactly the right way for a long time now,” praised the head coach. The quartet have been working hard at a training camp in South Tyrol, but now Kuntz has named his final 23-man squad, reducing Hertha's representatives to two: Maier and Mittelstädt will travel to the tournament in Italy/San Marino, while Torunarigha and Klünter have been cut. Germany’s opening European Championship group game is against Denmark on 17th June.
Muhammed Kiprit will be in action before then with the Turkey U21s. The forward will be looking to help his nation in their quest to reach the 2021 EUROs, with qualifiers against Albania on Friday, 7th June (19:30 CEST) and in Kosovo on Tuesday, 11th June (20:00 CEST) on the agenda.