Flick has to think about it

After losing to Japan in Qatar, Germany is threatened with losing the preliminary round at a World Cup for the second time in a row. In order for the DFB team to be able to turn things around in the coming days, significant improvements are needed in the game with and without the ball.

Ilkay Gündogan found clear words after the defeat at the start, criticizing, among other things, the sometimes unwillingness to demand balls. Here are the takeaways from the game against Japan. Hansi Flick has to work on three issues before the game against Spain on Sunday.

DFB team: The coordination between the defenders is missing

Even before Japan equalized, Manuel Neuer had to prevent the impact with a brilliant save. Junya Ito’s chance to score showed even more than the actual 1-1 draw how Japan managed to exploit the gaps in the German defence. The DFB-Elf started with a back four consisting of Niklas Süle, Antonio Rüdiger, Nico Schlotterbeck and David Raum.

As a nominal right-back, Süle should advance cautiously and mostly hold a deep position, which is why in theory the interfaces between the three remaining defenders should have been quite small.

Despite this, Japan kept getting into those gaps with an attacking focus and plenty of presence near the offside line. The handovers between Süle, Rüdiger and Schlotterbeck only rarely fit in the backward movement. In any case, it became clear in this game that all three are actually the best at defending forwards. But as soon as Germany does not have full control over the action and the defenders have to face Neuer’s goal, they seem indisposed.

DFB team: Rotation would probably be counterproductive

Of course, after such a performance, the call for personnel changes in the defense quickly becomes loud. However, renewed changes would not be conducive to better coordination. National coach Flick has tinkered with his defense often enough and, with the choice of Süle as right-back, made a move for this game that not everyone expected.

Replacing Süle with Thilo Kehrer or Lukas Klostermann could turn out to be the right decision – or it could also lead to new voting problems. Just look at the miscommunication before Japan’s second goal as Süle runs back while Rüdiger and Schlotterbeck are flagged for offside. Both variants are possible, but the remaining defense must choose one.

If Flick believes that Süle, Rüdiger and Schlotterbeck are the best possible trio, then he has to work with them as well as space and the midfield players positioned in front of them on the shifting mechanisms and defensive handovers. It is also true that not only did the last line fail in the second half against Japan, but the rows in front of it also had their problems moving backwards. It was not without reason that Hiroki Sakai, as a right wing defender, was able to break through on the outside several times.

DFB-Team: The build-up has to come to the next phase

Especially in the first half, Germany showed a dominant performance after slight initial difficulties and also managed to score. The pressing of the Japanese, who deliberately left Süle free to direct the German build-up to him, was skilfully overplayed by Thomas Müller falling behind in the right half-space and the resulting equal number or even a majority in midfield. Here Germany had the right feeling and the right positional shift ready.

However, Germany was sometimes difficult to get into the last third of the field. Much relied on single actions or improvised passing sequences. Although Germany loud Opta came to a value of 3.27 expected goals and this number was still high even after taking the penalty kick into account, none of the eight shots on target were individually rated more than 0.3 expected goals. The individual final actions were not of such high quality.

National coach Flick has to think seriously about how the third build-up phase will be designed. It was noticeable on Wednesday that Jamal Musiala, despite some successful actions, did not have the normal presence in the space between the lines. The 19-year-old always had to work his way in from the flank and wasn’t already there as a possible receiver of a pass, in the best case scenario to take both opposing sixes out of the game. But against Spain it takes exactly this special quality to win the fight for the essential gaps.

There are construction sites both defensively and offensively, with the defense being more of a concern at first glance, but the fluctuating game control on the ball is also a problem. However, Germany will experience a different game against Spain anyway, in which the defensive will be required both in the backward movement and in the deep end defence. Without improved coordination, the venture against the Iberians could end badly.

World Cup 2022: The match schedule of Group E

date encounter kick-off
November 23 Germany vs Japan 1:2
November 23 Spain vs Costa Rica 7-0
November 27th Japan vs Costa Rica 11 clock
November 27th Spain vs. Germany 8 p.m
December 01 Costa Rica vs. Germany 8 p.m
December 01 Japan vs Spain 8 p.m

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