The first international break of the new season sees Germany facing a double-header with Japan and France. First up in a potentially vital week for the Nationalmannschaft is a meeting with the side that punctured a hole in their World Cup campaign in Qatar at the Volkswagen Arena in Wolfsburg.
The pain of the World Cup disaster could and should have been eased by a new and fresh start as the Germans looked to build ahead of next summer’s European Championships on home soil, but instead the mood of pessimism has merely increased after a series of poor displays and more importantly, defeats.
The record since the World Cup is very un-German with defeats to Belgium, Poland and Colombia and a scraped draw with Ukraine, The only bright spot was a win over Peru. The defeats hurt, but the manner of the performances were worse with a seeming lack of all that usually makes Germany such a threat.
Hansi Flick has come under increasing scrutiny for his continuing failure to restore Germany to where they should be and his tinkering with tactics (a back three) have clearly confused the players and failed. His officially has the backing of the DFB, but if things don’t take a turn for the better in these two upcoming friendlies, the tide of opinion may turn completely against him and force those in charge into a change of trainer.
In contrast to Germany, Japan enjoyed the World Cup in Qatar making it to the last-16 before they succumbed to Croatia- which is nothing to be ashamed of. Their historic win over Germany in the group stage set them up and it shouldn’t be forgotten that they also beat Spain in group E. They then held the Croats to a 1-1 draw before going out on penalties in the first knock-out stage.
Unlike Germany, they have enjoyed success in their recent friendlies in June with a 6-0 win over El Salvador and a 4-1 win against Peru. They will face Germany in full confidence knowing that they have beaten them already and will be keen to repeat their World Cup heroics before they take on Turkey in their second friendly of the international break.
Jamal Musiala and Niclas Füllkrug are unavailable to coach Hansi Flick. Reports emerged on Thursday claim the team played a mini practice match against the U-20 side and experimented with a back four with Joshua Kimmich at right back and Ilkay Gündogan partnering Emre Can in the centre of midfield, so it will be very interesting to see if that is the plan against Japan.
Kai Havertz should lead the attack in the absence of any real alternative with Florian Wirtz given another chance to carry his Bundesliga form into the national team.
Possible line-up: ter Stegen – Kimmich, Süle, Rüdiger, Gosens – Gündogan, Can – Gnabry, Wirtz, L. Sané – Havertz
Coach Moriyasu has plenty of Premier League and Bundesliga stars to call upon with Borussia Mönchengladbach’s Ko Itakura and Stuttgart’s Hiroki Ito set to feature in the back four. Both Daichi Kamada and Wataru Endo both recently departed the Bundesliga, while the goal scorers from the World Cup clash Ritsu Doan and Takuma Asano may have to settle for a place on the bench.
Possible line-up: Schmidt – Sugawara, Itakura, Taniguchi, H. Ito – W. Endo, Morita – Kubo, Kamada, Mitoma – Ueda
What they’re saying:
Hansi Flick: “We have changed a lot in terms of the idea of how we want to play football. We conveyed that to the team. We are convinced of the way. The game against the U20s was important. It’s difficult when you only play eleven against eleven among yourself because everyone knows what you’re up to. The goals we scored will give us confidence. These are things that are important.
“Life is always about learning from past mistakes. We wanted to test, try. It’s been over since June. We have now agreed on a playing philosophy and conveyed this to the team. The training sessions were good. We are satisfied. We want to see an active team, intensity. We want to gain confidence through a good game. That’s the bottom line.
“Japan have an interesting team that inflicted the decisive defeat on us at the World Cup. I like football, Japan is very variable, has very well-trained players, plays attacking and beautiful football. The team has developed very, very well in recent years. I’m looking forward to the game and hope we do well in it.”
Hajime Moriyasu: “Germany are still among the world’s best, regardless of the last result. We have always been there in the last seven World Cups, but other countries are much stronger.
“Of course we want to defeat Germany, that’s our main goal. It will be a good opportunity to see what we are missing. Many Japanese play in the Bundesliga. Every player has learned something there”
20/06/23 Colombia (h) 0-2 L (Friendly)
16/06/23 Poland (a) 1-0 L (Friendly)
12/06/23 Ukraine (h) 3-3 D (Friendly)
28/03/23 Belgium (h) 2-3 L (Friendly)
25/03/23 Peru (h) 2-0 W (Friendly)
20/06/23 Peru (h) 4-1 W (Friendly)
15/06/23 El Salvador (h) 6-0 W (Friendly)
28/03/23 Colombia (h) 1-2 L (Friendly)
24/03/23 Uruguay (h) 1-1 D (Friendly)
05/12/22 Croatia (n) 1-3 L (World Cup)
The opening fixture in Germany’s World Cup campaign in Qatar didn’t exactly go according to plan as the pre-tournament malaise surrounding the national team turned into a full-on meltdown as they lost to Japan at the Khalifa International Stadium.
The match started well with Germany taking a 1-0 lead in the 33rd minute when Ilkay Gündogan kept his cool from the penalty spot. A disallowed goal in first half stoppage time from Kai Havertz, while annoying, didn’t indicate what was to follow in the second 45 minutes.
Japan didn’t get despondent and caused a nervy Germany problems. The equaliser when it came in the 75th minute from Freiburg’s Ritsu Doan was highly deserved. From then on Germany were very un-Germany-like and the next goal for the Samurais proved the winner. It was painfully another Bundesliga player to strike the fatal blow with Bochum’s Takuma Asano firing home on 83 minutes.
Players to watch:
If reports Joshua Kimmich are to be believed Hansi Flick is planning to shift Joshua Kimmich into a right back role when facing the ball, which will switch to him moving into midfield when Germany are attacking. The tactic is one copied from Pep Guardiola at Manchester City, where John Stones has successfully implemented the role. It will be fascinating to see if the tactic bears fruit for the Nationalmannschaft.
Brighton Kaoru Mitoma was one of the stand-out players in the Premier League last season as the Seagulls qualified for Europe for the first time. His attacking threat is something the Germans will have to be incredibly wary of. At least they will have some insider information with his Brighton team mate Pascal Groß called-up into the German squad for the first time.