National team beats Azerbaijan in World Cup qualifier

Germany opened a four-point gap at the top of their World Cup qualifying group after goals by Bastian Schweinsteiger and Miroslav Klose sealed Germany's 2-0 win in Azerbaijan on Wednesday.

National team beats Azerbaijan in World Cup qualifier
O! Schweini, how we love thee. Photo: DPA

Joachim Löw’s side remain unbeaten and are favourites to claim the group four’s single guaranteed place for the finals in South Africa, but the matter is likely to be decided when they face main rivals Russia in Moscow on October 10.

“We lost our way a bit in the second half,” said Löw. “We would have controlled the game a bit better, but we made too many errors in our structured play. We still have some room for improvement.

It was Löw ‘s 40th game in charge and his 28th win with six draws and six defeats, but there are bigger tests ahead against Finland and Russia in the next few months.

Löw got a boost before kick off when captain and Chelsea star Michael Ballack was declared fit to play despite damaging a thigh muscle in training on Tuesday.

And there was a slight surprise in Löw’s selection with Stuttgart’s Serdar Tasci chosen ahead of Berlin captain Arne Friedrich.

Bayern Munich midfielder Schweinsteiger opened the scoring after just 12 minutes when he received the ball just outside the penalty area and rifled his shot home from 30 metres for his 19th goal on his 68th appearance.

Germany were rarely tested and they doubled their lead just after the break when Bayern Munich striker Mario Gomez’s shot at Azerbaijan goalkeeper Farhad Veliyev was headed into the empty net on the rebound by Klose.

It was his 89th goal on his 45th appearance and made up for his first-half miss when the Bayern Munich stalwart drove his header over the bar with an empty net at his mercy.

Azerbaijan, coached by ex-Germany boss Berti Vogts, had precious few chances to score in the second-half as the German defence, led by Bayern’s Philipp Lahm, closed down their opponents’ attack.

The sides will clash again in Hannover on September 9 in the return qualifier.

Russia have the chance to close the gap back to a single point before then when they face minnows Liechtenstein in St Petersburg on September 5.

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British football teams allowed to skip Germany’s quarantine for Euro 2020

Germany's government announced on Tuesday it will allow England, Scotland and Wales to enter the country without quarantine to play at Euro 2020 despite a recent rise in cases linked to the Delta variant of Covid-19 in Britain.

British football teams allowed to skip Germany's quarantine for Euro 2020
One of the venues for Euro 2020 is in Munich. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Sven Hoppe

The three teams could potentially reach the quarter-final held in Munich on July 2nd.

If that were the case, they would be exempt from the rule that travellers from the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland must currently observe a 14-day isolation period due to the virus strain of concern – Delta – first identified in India.

“The people accredited for the European football Championship are exempt from the quarantine obligation, even after arriving from an area impacted by a variant” Berlin said in a statement.

“This exemption concerns all the people who have been accredited by the organising committee for the preparation, participation, the holding and the follow-up of international sporting events,” it added.

The exemption does not include fans, who will be obliged to follow German government self-isolation rules.

Germany declared the UK a ‘virus variant area of concern’ on May 23rd due to rising cases linked to the Delta variant in parts of the country. 

READ ALSO: Germany makes UK ‘virus variant area of concern’: How does it affect you?

This reclassification came just seven days after the UK was put back on Germany’s list at the lowest risk level, and barely a month after it was taken off all risk lists completely.

The ban was put in place despite the UK’s relatively low Covid rates as a precautionary measure.

A general ban on entry is in place for people coming from countries on the ‘virus variant’ list – such as India and Brazil – the highest of Germany’s risk categories. 

There are some exceptions for entering from these countries – for example German residents and citizens. However, anyone who does enter from Germany is required to submit a Covid-19 test before boarding the flight and must quarantine for 14 days on arrival, regardless of whether they are fully vaccinated or not.

READ ALSO: Germany’s new relaxed quarantine and testing rules after travel

Euro 2020 starts on Friday as Italy host Turkey in Rome with the Bavarian city hosting three group games as well as the last-eight match.

Around 14,000 fans will be allowed into the Allianz Arena for the fixtures.