We thought Germany was cured and ready for its World Cup, but the Mannschaft once again collapsed, this time against Japan (1-2). The symbol of a giant that has become harmless, as in 2018 and during Euro 2020.
By converting his penalty half an hour into the game against Japan, İlkay Gündoğan released 83 million compatriots, happy to see Germany start their World Cup well. This opener will actually have had the opposite effect, for a team brought down by its old demons. Between waste in front of goal and defensive fragility.
When dissecting Hansi Flick’s list, some signs weren’t really wrong. Usually major component of the national eleven, the backbone of Bayern Munich has thus withered for this start of the World Cup. Like Serge Gnabry, Jamal Musiala and Thomas Müller, far too irregular this Wednesday, and orphans of a fixation point on the front of the attack (hello Lewandowski). The other German problem. It must be said that the absence of a goalscorer weighs on the Mannschaft for nearly five years now, and the retirement of the last Torjager by trade, Mario Gómez. The only candidate, but last-minute withdrawal, Timo Werner was thus forced to give way to Niclas Füllkrug, a last resort solution that was not very brilliant for the ambitions displayed across the Rhine.
Just like Youssoufa Mukoko and Karim Adeyemi, still far too frail, to the point of pushing Flick to align Kai Havertz in this famous role of “false 9”. So many gray areas displayed against Japan, like these 26 shots attempted for 9 on target. Shortcomings in front and a break behind, within a defense in eternal reconstruction, trapped on each of the opposing counters. A glaring example: the feverishness displayed by Nico Schlotterbeck for 97 minutes, involved in the two Japanese goals. At his side and if he seemed calm, Antonio Rüdiger paid a certain collective sufficiency, symbolized by his mocking race towards Takuma Asano, punished in stride by the latter. “When I see Japan’s second goal, I wonder if there’s ever been one so easy, scored in the World Cup. We don’t have the right to be caught like this.” cursed Gündoğan soberly in the mixed zone, for a nice summary of the situation.
So here is Germany back to the wall again and Hansi Flick deep in thought. He, who we thought was ready to ensure this post-Joachim Löw period, finds himself having to deal with a relatively worrying record: five defeats in the last eight meetings in official competition (World Cup 2018, Euro 2020 and World Cup 2022). Better (or worse), if the Mannschaft boasted only two missteps between the 2006 and 2014 Worlds, it is now three games without a win since 2018. And it is also the third time in a row that Germany has started a competition with a defeat (Mexico 2018 , France 2020, Japan 2022).
Is Germany therefore no longer frightening? The saying “And in the end, Germany wins” would it be a thing of the past? Obviously without drawing any hasty conclusions (Spain case law in 2010, defeat by Switzerland in the opening round then world champion) on a competition which is only in its infancy, this World Cup could indeed quickly turn into a trap for a recovering German selection. To the technical requirements are added a number of mental questions, which only the executives in place can solve. Still need to find them.
By Adel Bentaha