Just when you think it can’t get any worse for the German national team, it does just that. After a lucky 3-3 draw with Ukraine and defeat to Poland, the Nationalmannschaft were defeated again on Tuesday against Colombia. After the abysmal World Cup, some said that Bundestrainer Hansi Flick was lucky to not be replaced, but has he now used up his second chance?
The team were whistled off at the Veltins Arena and there were the first calls for the coach to be fired after a third highly disappointing performance and result in the space of nine days. Flick was backed after the World Cup debacle in Qatar with team manager Oliver Bierhoff the one who ultimately paid the price for failure, but if the public were anticipating a fresh, new start, they have been sorely mistaken.
With the 2024 European Championship finals less than twelve months away on home soil, the job of the Bundestrainer is to engender a positive momentum to take into the finals (as both Italy and Argentina did in the last Euros and World Cup). Flick seems to be doing the opposite with the team lacking self-belief, not looking happy with the formation and with no settled first-choice XI emerging.
Indeed Flick sent out a 21st different defensive back line against Colombia in the last 24 matches. The experiment with a back-three is not working and the quality available in the wingback areas is lacking. The attack is not flowing, and the decision to keep playing Kai Havertz as a ‘false nine’ baffles when it clearly isn’t working.
In Flick’s defence, the quality of players at his disposal is not in the same league as previous coach Jogi Löw enjoyed, but it still should be sufficient to progress from a World Cup group and beat the likes of Ukraine, Poland and Colombia.
One thing to work in Flick’s favour is the lack of options available to replace him should the decision to make a change come about. Jürgen Klopp is the obvious figure who would be able to unite the entire nation behind the team, but he is not about to leave Liverpool anytime soon. Julian Nagelsmann has been mentioned, but again club football is where his priority lies right now. Other names such as Lothar Matthäus, Philipp Lahm or Bastian Schweinsteiger are just big names being thrown about without much seriousness.
Germany face both Japan and France in September, before a trip to the USA in October. Unless there is a big upswing in both performances and results, the pressure is only to ramp up on Hansi Flick, but the DFB have to decide very quickly at which point it becomes too late to make a change ahead of the Euros.
If Flick were a club coach, his record of five defeats and seven draws in his last sixteen matches with 24 goals conceded would have seen him turfed out without much question. He was given a second chance after the World Cup, but the question is now being raised as to whether he has used it up.