It was a “winter nightmare” (Süddeutsche Zeitung), a “huge embarrassment” (Bild), a “new low point” that revealed the quadruple world champion had become a “football dwarf” (Spiegel). The morning after the National team crashed out of the World Cup in the group stage for the second tournament in a row, the German front pages were read bluntly.
On paper, the exit from Germany was a marginal affair. A 20-minute loss of form and concentration in the opener against Japan, leading to two goals conceded in eight minutes. A ball that remained on the pitch by a few millimeters before Japan scored their winner in a 2-1 win over Spain, which made Germany’s result against Costa Rica meaningless. Had Dani Olmo equalized for Spain in the dying minutes of the side game, Germany would have qualified.
But this is not how the match was digested in Germany the next day. Whether the ball crossed the line in the Japan-Spain game was barely discussed in the televised autopsy and a secondary concern for most newspapers.
Instead, it was time to ask questions about the philosophy of German football since winning the World Cup in 2014, or lack thereof.
In the TV studio, Bastian Schweinsteiger said the German players didn’t seem to have the same “burning” desire for success as others, explicitly naming Costa Rica but appearing to imply his own exploits at the Maracanã. The DFB, the German football association, needed to train and produce more chief or “leadership actors,” he added.
Coach Hansi Flick eagerly ignored Schweinsteiger’s suggestions but acknowledged that the old certainties once attached to German football had evaporated. “We weren’t effective in this tournament,” he said.
Newspapers were less inclined to touch on national mythologies. “It had nothing to do with bad luck or incompetence, lack of focus or lack of desire for success,” Die Welt wrote. “A 7-0, which would have ensured the passage to the round of 16, would have been possible.
“What remains is an embarrassing World Cup exit from a group containing Japan and Costa Rica. The German national team is once again well below its own aspirations, it has arrived in gray mediocrity.
Süddeutsche Zeitung agreed: “Couldn’t we, maybe we shouldn’t, opt for an 8-0,” asked the large format. “That result would have been enough and after the first game there were a lot of chances.”
Flick and national team manager Oliver Bierhoff have been the central target of criticism, and calls for a fresh start ahead of Euro 2024 in Germany are set to become more vocal in the weeks and months to come.
“Flick’s most fundamental flaw,” wrote Die Zeit, was that he didn’t seem to know which players he really trusted. By replacing Ilkay Gündogan, “he incomprehensibly removed one of his best, and certainly the smartest player for the third time in three matches.
“That way the coach is practically getting in the way of the team in the process of developing hierarchies and responsibilities.”
Source : BBN NEWS