Battle of Europe factsheet

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Riedle: Germany have a No 9 problem

But former striker Karl-Heinz Riedle backs coach Loew to find a solution

Karl-Heinz Riedle

While England's striker problem is more about quality than quantity, there appears to be no No. 9 forthcoming for Germany after 31-year-old Mario Gomez.

Here in Singapore to promote the Battle of Europe 2016 in November, 50-year-old former Germany striker Karl-Heinz Riedle called the situation "frightening", but backed Die Mannschaft to find a way to overcome it.

The 1990 World Cup winner said: "In the long term, it's frightening because we don't see so many real No. 9s anymore.

"But I think the style of football has changed over the years and Germany have showed they can play without a No. 9.

"Maybe it's the times. At the moment, the guys coming through the academies, you don't see a No. 9 in the old style like in our times.

"Thomas Mueller is not a No. 9. He plays better behind the main striker or on the right, and he was on fire when we won the 2014 World Cup.

"It worked then but, at Euro 2016, we were unlucky he was not in the best condition."

Germany were knocked out of Euro 2016 after failing to find a way past hosts France before losing 2-0 in the semi-finals.

But Riedle said: "I don't think Germany will struggle for goals. I think this was just an accident for Mueller because normally he scores all the time in these big occasions.

"We created chances, but we couldn't pull the trigger. That was the problem, not the type of football that we played."

However, because Mueller is not a traditional No. 9, he still needs to play off a main striker, and Riedle hopes there are a few more good years left in Gomez to lead the German lines.

And, if all else fails, the midfielders behind them must come up with the goods.

"I hope Gomez comes back. If he gets his self-confidence back, what he had with Bayern Munich, then he will solve the problem," said Riedle, who has 42 caps and 16 international goals for Germany.

"His physical presence is different than if you have Mario Goetze up front.

"Gomez is good in the air, he's getting better on the floor, which was his weakness. He's not the best ball-holder, but he's very determined in front of goal and he scores.

"We also play with many creative midfielders like Mesut Oezil who have to step up and join in the scoring.

The former Liverpool striker is also optimistic that his country can continue to advance to the latter stages of major tournaments despite the retirement of stalwarts such as Philipp Lahm, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Miroslav Klose.

He said: "We have so many good young players in the Under-21s and Under-19s.

"Step by step they will come, they will get the chance in the Bundesliga.

"We have a fantastic coach in Joachim Loew, who knows how to fit in these players, so I feel very positive."

Anderton: England need Rooney

Ex-England winger Anderton says striker is the only worthy player to lead the Three Lions

IN TOWN: Former England midfielder Darren Anderton (right) with ex-Germany 
striker Karl-Heinz Riedle. 

Too old, too slow, and not scoring enough goals.

Some have called for England captain Wayne Rooney to be dropped for international games to facilitate a change of guard, but former England midfielder Darren Anderton feels the Manchester United man is the only one in the national team fit to lead the Three Lions.

"I hope we are not 20 years behind," said former Tottenham Hotspur winger Anderton, who is in town to promote the Battle of Europe 2016 (see sidebar).

"But, back in the 90s, what we had were leaders - Tony Adams, Stuart Pearce, David Seaman, Gazza (Paul Gascogine), Incey (Paul Ince), Alan Shearer and Teddy Sheringham.

"When things are not going well, we had those players to look up to, but there's not many of them now except for Rooney, who has been and still is a top player and captain.

"He's the only one and that's the problem. It shouldn't be down to just Rooney, but there isn't someone like John Terry about anymore.

"There's no one to replace Rooney as captain at the moment."

Ever since he started playing professional football, Anderton has had to endure watching arch-rivals Germany win the 1990 and 2014 World Cups as well as Euro 1996, while making three major finals.


Meanwhile, all the Three Lions could manage were two semi-final appearances at the 1990 World Cup and Euro 1996, and it has been two long decades since they even made the final four at a major tournament.

The problem, according to Anderton, is both the lack of leaders as well as a dearth of prolific No. 9s at international level.

The likes of Harry Kane, Danny Welbeck, Daniel Sturridge, Jamie Vardy and Andy Carroll have all failed to score the crucial goals to lead England to break the 50-year trophy drought.

"The classic No. 9 is Alan Shearer and we haven't had one as good since he retired," said Anderton, who has 30 caps and seven international goals.

"Michael Owen was an unbelievable goalscorer, but he wasn't a No. 9 and injuries conspired to prevent him from becoming our all-time topscorer.

"The Shearers, Sheringhams, Owens, Fowlers, Ferdinands, there was an unbelievable amount of talented strikers going around at that time.

"I don't think there's as many at the moment for England unfortunately. Hopefully, that changes with some youngsters coming through.

"I thought Kane would be the main man for that role and he probably will still be in the future.

"Euro 2016 was a disappointing one for him and he's started the season a bit slow as well.

"But he's young, he will come back again, there's no doubt about that.

"Marcus Rashford looks fantastic and looks like he's going to be a top player. Hopefully, he will form a really good partnership with Kane in the near future."


However, Anderton feels it would be unfair to pin all the blame on the strikers when the supporting cast did not do enough to provide the ammunition, typified by the 2-1 defeat by Iceland in the Euro 2016 Round of 16.

"The team have struggled to create opportunities and score goals," said the 44-year-old.

"Goals win games and that's what it's all about. I don't solely blame the strikers for that.

"It's been a team problem for England in the last three tournaments.

"They haven't been able to create opportunities.

"When a striker gets one or two chances per game, that's not enough.

"That puts you under pressure to score from every opportunity and that's almost impossible."

The move to replace Roy Hodgson with Sam Allardyce will make a vast difference, even if it is not immediately evident from Big Sam's first game in charge, a laboured 1-0 World Cup qualifying win over Slovakia.

Anderton said: "They were certainly in crisis after the Iceland game. You've got to be 
honest and say that it was a disaster and embarrassing for the country.

"Watching the games from the outside, you wonder if the players know what they should be doing under Hodgson.

"In the end, they looked like a bunch of individuals more than a team and that wouldn't happen under Big Sam because he's all about the team.

"They struggled a little bit against Slovakia, but that will probably be England's toughest game in their group . It wasn't a brilliant victory, but it was satisfactory.

"A new manager usually brings new ideas and new hope and there's definitely a much better feel going forward for the national team.

"I know he sets his team up to be tough to play against, tough to beat. It will be a much more positive and direct, with more crosses and balls into the box.

"Fingers crossed, Big Sam will be able to change things because it has been a very disappointing few years."

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Ronaldo returns

Zidane set to field 'BBC' attack for the first time this season

I’ m ready. — Cristiano Ronaldo (above) on his fitness ahead of Real Madrid’s clash against Osasuna
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Heartbreak for Singapore's male golfers

S'pore fall short in team and individual battles, but take positives into World Amateurs

DISAPPOINTMENT: Singapore's Joshua Ho (left) reacts after a shot.

With a five-shot lead in their grasp, the stage was set for Singapore to claim their first Putra Cup since 2011 at Tanah Merah Country Club's Garden course yesterday.

In the end, it was not to be as their failure to capitalise on a number of openings, coupled with a stunning final-round charge by their main challengers, saw them finish runners-up to Thailand for the second year running by three strokes.

It was undoubtedly a bitter pill to swallow given they had played some excellent golf over the past four days, although national coach Andrew Welsford insisted there were plenty of positives to take ahead of the World Amateur Team Championships in two weeks' time.

"It was certainly ours to lose and all the guys will be feeling a bit down now," he told The New Paper.

"We truly believed that this was our week, having prepared well with four strong players. And our belief that we are (capable of being) champions certainly hasn't changed.

"We displayed a lot of fight, mental strength and good characteristics.

"Now we'll digest this over the next 24 hours and then we start focusing on the World Amateurs (in Mexico).

"Our aim is to get our highest-ever finish. We'll set our goals high, learn from this week and keep moving forward."


One huge positive from yesterday was the performance of Joshua Ho, who shot a four-under 66 to surge to third in the individual event.

The 22-year-old said: "You could say it's a bit bittersweet, but it's definitely more bitter than sweet.

"I think we all played well for much of this week, but we probably didn't convert our chances today, so it's a disappointing end to what was a pretty good tournament."

There was a double dose of disappointment for 2015 individual champion Gregory Foo, who had entered the day one shot in front before carding a 72 to finish fourth.

While visibly devastated, he was gracious in defeat as he paid credit to the Thais.

"I'm really gutted as we felt really confident going into today," Foo explained.

"We were just unable to hit the shots we needed to and it's going to hurt for the next few days, but we're only going to come back stronger next year.

"Credit to the Thais, they played solid golf and really came out to win it."

In the end, it was Kammalas Namuangruk who was all smiles as he took home the individual title after a 67. And the Singapore Open Amateur Championship winner is already setting his sights on further glory.

"I'm really happy. It's an amazing feeling, even though I was only focused on helping us win the team event," said Kammalas.

"Now, I'm looking forward to the 2017 South-east Asia Games and the 2018 Asian Games."

S'pore's Slorach shares lead

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Kerb-ing the celebrations

Germany's new world No. 1 wary of Pliskova threat in final

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Wenger: Wilshere has future at Arsenal

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