Despite a 4-2 win against Costa Rica on Thursday night, Germany are eliminated from the World Cup at the group stages for the second tournament running. Ultimately, it was Die Mannschaft’s inability to beat Japan in their World Cup opener that has put Hansi Flick’s side out of the competition.
Despite goals from Serge Gnabry, Kai Havertz (2) and Niclas Füllkrug, Spain’s 2-1 defeat against Japan means Hansi Flick’s side finish third. Here’s three things we learned.
Germany’s disjointed defence proves costly
Although he’s now had 19 games in charge, it doesn’t appear that Hansi Flick has a preferred starting XI. This can prove costly. Fielding a 4-2-3-1 in 18 of his 19 games, Flick has tried several combinations in defence, with Thilo Kehrer playing the most of any defender. Against Japan, Niklas Süle started at right-back with a defensive duo of Antonio Rüdiger and Nico Schlotterbeck with David Raum at left-back. Against Spain, Kehrer started at right-back with Süle and Rüdiger centrally and against Costa Rica, Joshua Kimmich was the starting right-back. Lukas Klostermann also featured in two of the three games. Successful teams at tournament have consistent starting XI’s and Germany don’t have that.
Had it not been for Manuel Neuer, this game could have been dead and buried. Credit to Costa Rica, they found Germany’s weakness of playing a high-line with space between Rüdiger and Raum. As Germany pushed for goals, it left them prone to the counter-attack, which was Costa Rica’s gameplan from the off. But too many times during the tournament has their defence being disjointed. Long gone are the days of Mats Hummels and Jerome Boateng, two players who provided consistency over the years, even the likes of Per Mertesacker in recent history. This is an area that must be addressed.
Jamal Musiala in Germany’s shining star is a dismal campaign
If Germany can take one positive from the World Cup it’s the emergence of Jamal Musiala. At his best in the No. 10 behind the forward, Musiala spent most of the competition on the left-flank but that didn’t faze him. Musiala always looked to progress the ball and whilst his shots were wayward, the Bayern Munich player is someone that Germany can build their team around in a side that’s lacking talent.
Germany has to reboot ahead of hosting Euro 2024
Speaking to media prior to Germany’s elimination from the tournament, Flick was asked whether he would remain in charge in the event that they wouldn’t advance to the knockout stages. He stated that he would be in charge for Euro 2024, which is hosted in Germany. But following their catastrophic World Cup campaign, there’s plenty of reactionary fans on social media suggesting that Flick should resign from his position, naming Thomas Tuchel as a candidate.
But in truth, Germany’s elimination goes a lot deeper than the head coach. We know the characteristics that Flick brings to the national team and there’s no doubting his coaching talent. This goes beyond the senior squad and into youth development. Looking at Germany U21s and lower, there are very few players that stand out in comparison to nations such as Spain and France. The DFB has a lot of work to do as this generation that includes Neuer, Ilkay Gündogan and Thomas Müller nears its end.
GGFN | Daniel Pinder