Germany desperately needed a performance and a result to dispel all the pessimism surrounding the team after dismal World Cup and a poor run after the Qatar debacle, but they got neither against Japan in Wolfsburg. In fact, things got a whole lot worse with a shattering 4-1 defeat to Japan.
2-1 down at the break after Leroy Sané had answered goals from Junya Ito and Ayase Ueda, the Nationalmannschaft could not break down Japan in the second half and succumbed to two late goals to pile on the agony. Here are five takeaways from the latest disaster for Hansi Flick’s beleaguered side…
1- Is this ‘sayonara’ to Hansi Flick?
This was billed as a must-win for Hansi Flick after the dismal World Cup and the poor run of results afterwards. All the talk beforehand was of a new start and of the players being ready to make amends as the country builds up to the European Championships.
However, instead of a new start it was even worse and Japan were more than deserving of their win. With the pressure already mounting on trainer Hansi Flick, the question has to be asked as to whether he can survive this. His demeanour at the final whistle was of a man without an answer and in a results business, this is not going to be acceptable to the German football public.
2- The Joshua Kimmich experiment didn’t work
The tactical plan to deploy Joshua Kimmich as an inverted right back, while bold, simply didn’t work. Maybe Hansi Flick was too enamoured by the success of Pep Guardiola’s use of the tactic at Manchester City, but with so much at stake, was this really the time to tinker.
With only one small practice session against the U-20’s, Germany looked to use a brand new line-up against a well-drilled Japanese side. Kimmich can do a job at right back, but that robs the side of much of his natural talent in midfield. Why not use your best players in their best positions? Innovation is fine when it works, but was this really the time to tinker?
3- It actually could have been worse!
Losing 4-1 at home to Japan would have many observers taking a second look at the score to check they weren’t misreading things, but in all honesty, without Marc-André ter Stegen, it could have been a lot worse.
The fact that the Barcelona keeper was the German’s best player tells you a lot about the performance and he cannot be faulted for his display. He made at least three goal-denying saves to deny the Japanese.
4- There were too many MIA
With so much on the line for Germany (despite it officially being a friendly), they simply had too many players go missing in action for them to overcome a well-organised Japan. Florian Wirtz, Emre Can, Serge Gnabry and Kai Havertz will look at their highlights reel and be shocked at how short it is.
The much-needed drive and intensity was largely missing and the change of captain to Ilkay Gündogan had little effect. Individual mistakes led to some of the goals, but there was generally little indication that Germany could break down Japan once they reverted to a back five in the second half.
5- It could get worse with France on Tuesday
If Germany thought the World Cup loss to Japan was bad, this was a whole lot worse. A performance and reaction was needed and it didn’t happen. The fact that the next friendly on Tuesday is against World Cup runners-up France will not make the squad sleep easy based on this display. The question as to whether Hansi Flick is the man to lead them out at the Signal Iduna Park is one that will be heavily discussed in the coming days.