Kompany’s World Cup in doubt after injury in Portugal stalemate

Belgium defender requires a scan, Joachim Löw frustrated as Austria beat Germany

Belgium boss Roberto Martinez speaks to Vincent Kompany as the defender leaves the pitch with a groin injury. Photograph: Bruno Fahy/AFP

Belgium boss Roberto Martinez speaks to Vincent Kompany as the defender leaves the pitch with a groin injury. Photograph: Bruno Fahy/AFP

 

Defender Vincent Kompany will require a scan to determine if he can play in the World Cup in Russia after injuring his groin during Belgium’s goalless draw with Portugal in a friendly on Saturday.

The 32-year-old Kompany, a key part of Belgium’s defence, abruptly left the pitch in the 55th minute of the match after appearing to hurt himself when lunging for the ball.

“You could feel that when he came off we were all very much worried,” coach Roberto Martinez told a news conference, adding that it would probably take 48 hours to determine how serious the injury was.

“He said he felt discomfort in his groin when he walked off the pitch. He’s not a young player, he knows his body. At that point it was the right time to come off,” Martinez added.

The injury was the key talking point after Belgium’s 0-0 draw with Portugal as both sides showed attacking intent but no killer blow less than two weeks before the World Cup begins.

Both Belgium and the European champions had promising phases, with Portugal’s Bernardo Silva in particular creating chances at the end of the first half.

Belgium’s best chance fell to defender Jan Vertonghen, earning his 100th cap, as he forced goalkeeper Beto into an acrobatic save midway through the second period.

Belgium began with their strongest possible 11, apart from the injured Axel Witsel and Thomas Vermaelen, and a trial three-man defence.

Portugal coach Fernando Santos made six changes from the team that started Monday’s 2-2 draw with Tunisia and were again without Cristiano Ronaldo, still resting after last weekend’s Champions League final. Striker Andre Silva started on the bench, giving 21-year-old Goncalo Guedes the chance to shine in attack.

Santos expressed satisfaction after the match, saying his team had done well to keep a clean sheet against a team that set a joint record of goals in qualifying for the World Cup.

The hosts made five second-half changes to try out some of their fringe players before Martinez cuts his 28-man squad to 23 on Monday.

“I cannot be fully satisfied because of Vincent Kompany’s injury but apart from that it was the test we needed,” he said, adding that Vermaelen at least appeared to be returning to fitness.

Portugal host Algeria on June 7th before their World Cup opener on June 15th against Spain in a group also featuring Morocco and Iran.

Belgium will play further friendlies against Egypt on June 6th and Costa Rica on June 11th. They open their World Cup campaign on June 18th against Panama, before also facing England and Tunisia in Group G.

Germany’s drought continues

Germany coach Joachim Low knows there is still plenty for his reigning champions to work on ahead of the World Cup.

Germany are not enjoying the best preparations for the defence of their trophy after their winless run was extended by a 2-1 defeat to Austria at the Worthersee Stadion in Klagenfurt on Saturday evening.

Low’s team have not won a game since October, drawing with England, France and Spain and losing to Brazil and now Austria since beating Azerbaijan.

Manuel Neuer made his first start since September 2017 as Germany were beaten by Austria. Photograph: Vladimir Simicek/AFP
Manuel Neuer made his first start since September 2017 as Germany were beaten by Austria. Photograph: Vladimir Simicek/AFP

Germany led early on through Mesut Ozil’s strike but second-half goals from Martin Hinteregger and Alessandro Schopf turned the match on its head and gave Austria, who will not be at the World Cup in Russia later this month, a seventh successive victory.

“It’s a frustrating defeat because we didn’t implement a lot of what we had talked about,” Low told www.dfb.de.

At the post-match press conference, he added: “I said a few moments ago that I am upset. I am not upset about the loss, not upset about losing the game, I am upset about the way we lost it.

“It was our own fault, because after taking the lead we controlled the game, but right before the break and the first 15 to 20 minutes after the break we weren’t in the game at all. We lost the ball unbelievably often, there were so many turnovers.

“We are not used to that from our team. We let the Austrians get back in the game.”

Germany, who will also face Saudi Arabia at the BayArena before beginning the defence of their title against Mexico with their Group F opener on June 17th in Moscow, started the match brightly but struggled to create many chances.

Low’s team toiled to create anything of note in reply to Austria’s two second-half goals and while the starting XI against Mexico will look a lot different to the team on Saturday, Germany’s inability to pose much of an attacking threat will be a worry to Low.

He said: “We played decent football at times in the first half, but then we just stopped clicking. We allowed Austria to put in crosses and get shots away. There’s a lot to digest.”

On a brighter note for the boss, goalkeeper Manuel Neuer made his first start since September 2017 after recovering from a broken foot.

“Concerning Manuel Neuer, yes, I think it was a very satisfying comeback,” said Low.

“He doesn’t have any problems with his foot after the game, that’s important. And the second thing was that he reacted great in many situations, he reacted fast.

“You couldn’t tell he didn’t play for a while, and that’s why I am absolutely satisfied from what I saw from Manuel today.”

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