The first international break of the new season was certainly eventful as Germany endured the ups and the downs. The nation’s poor post-World Cup run continued (got worse) with a 4-1 defeat at the hands of Japan on Saturday, before a much-needed win over France was secured on Tuesday. So just who were the German winners and losers of the international break?
The Bayern attacker had started the new Bundesliga season in fine form and he carried this forward with the Nationalmannschaft. Having scored three in three games for the Rekordmeister in the league, Sané emerged as one of the few players with any real credit from the Japan defeat having scored the equaliser in the first half with a well taken effort.
He carried on his goalscoring form in Dortmund against France with the second goal late on when he kept his cool to finish past Mike Maignan after getting beyond the French back line. In both games he was arguably Germany’s most potent attacker and he looks to be answering the age-old question about his consistency in the affirmative.
Hannes Wolf/ Sandro Wagner
The coaching duo were called in to assist interim Rudi Völler when he stepped into the breach for the French clash and their contribution to the massive improvement in Germany’s performance levels has been acknowledged by Völler and the players.
Such has been the positivity they engendered with Wolf’s tactical thoughts and Wagner’s motivational skill, that in some circles they are being touted as a potential Plan B should the more illustrious names being linked with the vacant Bundestrainer job not come to fruition.
Marc-André ter Stegen
Before the two friendlies the Barcelona keeper was vocal in his opinion that he was Germany’s number one keeper in Manuel Neuer’s absence and saw no reason to give up his position if and when the Bayern keeper does return to action.
His displays against both Japan and France seemed to back up his words with actions. He could not really be faulted for the four he conceded against Japan with only one of the efforts really bringing any slight blame. Against France he pulled of two saves to deny Aurelien Tchouameni and one to stop Antoine Griezmann. The conceding of the late penalty was the only blot on an otherwise spotless display.
The make-up of the back four has long caused much woe but based on form so far this season, the omission of Jonathan Tah against Japan was a little surprising. He was in the line-up against Japan and alongside Sané was one of the stand-out performers. Even in an unfamiliar right back slot, his was an assured, solid performance which has given him a much-needed boost in regards his place in the defensive hierarchy. Based on his league form and his display against France, he could well be a first-choice when it comes to facing Mexico and the USA in October.
In times of need Thomas Müller can be relied upon and on the eve of his 34th birthday, he proved once again that Germany still need him despite the plethora of younger talents coming through. His opener against France was a very well-taken effort- typical Müller you could say. He now has 45 goals for his country, moving level with Karl-Heinz Rummenigge.
The biggest individual to lose out this week was of course Hansi Flick who lost his job. Given a second chance after the World Cup debacle in Qatar, he came to the end of the line following the dismal display against Japan. He thus became the first Bundestrainer to ever be fired.
Whatever wasn’t working at the World Cup and afterwards showed no sign of improvement and something had to give as Germany builds up to hosting the European Championships next summer. He would have been watching on with bemusement at the massive improvement seen against France, but then that just highlights that the team was broken under him and the hard decision to sack him was justified.
The Dortmund centre back had a nightmare against Japan playing at left back. Nearly all of the Japanese attacks were down their right with their opening two goals coming down his flank with Junya Ito enjoying too much space and time. A disastrous back pass to Antonio Rüdiger very nearly led to a third goal. He was taken off after 64 minutes and deservedly so. He didn’t appear against France.
In the absence of Niclas Füllkrug through injury, it was Kai Havertz who once again was chosen to spearhead the German attack against Japan. It was yet another poor display from Havertz as he looked to lead the attacking line. His start at Arsenal has been disappointing and this was too. Little threat was posed and his display once again highlighted the need for a ‘real’ striker to spearhead the attack for Germany. He can ‘do a job’ there, but as Thomas Müller showed when replacing him against France, Havertz is not the best man for the job.
If Jonathan Tah did bring his Bayer Leverkusen club form to the international stage, team mate Florian Wirtz did not. The mercurial talent continues to disappoint in a German shirt and his huge promise just isn’t making the leap at the moment to the Nationalmannschaft. Whereas Bayern’s Jamal Musiala has made the leap, the Leverkusen youngster it seems needs more time to find himself.