After nine wins and four draws, Hansi Flick’s honeymoon period is over as Germany suffered their first defeat under the 57-year-old on Friday evening. A 1-0 loss against Hungary in Leipzig, there’s plenty of questions to be asked ahead of the 2022 World Cup which kicks off in less than two months.
With only one game remaining, against England on Monday before the first ball is kicked in Qatar, it’s a worrying time for Germany who don’t seem to have found their groove just yet.
Here’s three talking points from last night’s defeat:
1 | Hansi Flick must find a solution at right-back, Jonas Hofmann doesn’t work
Friday night wasn’t the first time Jonas Hofmann has operated at right-back for Germany. The 30-year-old has played there in seven of his last 12 games for Die Mannschaft but post-match, Flick admitted that he got it wrong with the Borussia Mönchengladbach midfielder playing in defence.
“We wanted to try something in the right-back position. We wanted to go into the game with two attacking full-backs, but we never got what we wanted. It didn’t work,” said Flick.
Hofmann has scored three in seven Bundesliga games this season, adding to his 12 league goals and five assists last season at Gladbach. He’s able to influence the game in an advanced role and that was evident after the break when Thilo Kehrer replaced Serge Gnabry, allowing Hofmann to play further forward. It’s important that Flick finds a solution before their opening game against Japan.
RB Leipzig’s Lukas Klostermann is the obvious option but has played just 90 minutes of Bundesliga football this season after rupturing a ligament. Benjamin Henrichs also has experience playing the role but in the current squad, Kehrer features heavily in Flick’s plans. It’s likely that the West Ham, former Schalke and PSG defender, would start against England on Monday.
2 | Germany are missing a presence in the penalty area
Timo Werner has scored just two goals for Germany in his last five games. The 26-year-old returned to RB Leipzig in the summer to boost his chances of making Flick’s squad for the World Cup. But if his performance against Hungary is anything to go by, he must improve if he wants to start.
In previous competitions Die Mannschaft has had players such as Miroslav Klose, Mario Gomez and going back even further, Oliver Bierhoff and Rudi Völler at their disposal. Wolfsburg’s Lukas Nmecha, who was prolific for Germany U21s, is in Flick’s current squad but hasn’t had sufficient minutes on the pitch to make an impact. On Friday’s performance against Hungary, it’s evident that Germany are missing that type of profile in the penalty area, someone with a physical presence.
Flick hinted that he could call-up a wildcard to the Germany squad for the World Cup. This puts players such as Niclas Füllkrug (Werder Bremen) and Simon Terodde (Schalke) on alert. The latter is prolific in the 2. Bundesliga, whilst Füllkrug is Germany’s top scorer in the Bundesliga this season with five goals. Both would offer something different and it’s a surprise neither were called up following the withdrawal of Marco Reus due to an ankle injury.
3 | Jamal Musiala must start for Germany
It’s a surprise that neither Jamal Musiala nor Kai Havertz started against Hungary. Both started vs the Netherlands in March and Flick praised the former for his performance, in what was a much deeper role as the 6.
The Bayern Munich player invites pressure, breaks free and can provide a pass in the final third, this is something that Germany missed on Friday. Across all competitions this season, Musiala (19) has scored six and created three in 10 games for Julian Nagelsmann’s Bayern.
Of course, starting a player of that age in the World Cup always carries its risks, but Musiala has shown time and again that he can perform on the biggest of stages. Against teams that play a low block, Germany can benefit from his skillset but Flick has just 90 more minutes to evaluate his team in a competitive environment.
GGFN | Daniel Pinder