After Germany’s tame effort against England, coach Joachim Löw bowed out; in August, former Bayern München manager and sextuple winner, Hansi Flick will take over the side.
BFW staffers, familiar with Flick, can perhaps do a better job of predicting what Flick’s XI will look like than other fans. As per a suggestion from antonl22, we will do exactly that,
Right to Left (4-2-3-1): Manuel Neuer (c) — Ridle Baku, Mats Hummels, Niklas Süle, Christian Günter — Joshua Kimmich, Leon Goretzka — Kai Havertz, Thomas Müller, Serge Gnabry — Kevin Volland
When Flick was assistant manager for Germany, he and Löw seemed to opt for a 4-5-1; when Flick was at Bayern, Bayern always played a 4-2-3-1 with almost no exceptions, sometimes switching to a 4-1-4-1 during the game. I think Flick will stick to the same formation. He seems to prefer a traditional #9 up front. Germany had Miroslav Klose and Mario Gomez during Flick’s tenure as assistant while Bayern had Robert Lewandowski and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting during Flick’s tenure. No matter what, Flick seems to go with a tried and tested option up front. Hence, I think he will stick Kevin Volland up top.
He prefers at least one of two fullbacks to be attacking if not both; hence, the somewhat conservative Benjamin Pavard did not always fit in (aside from a drop in form as well) in the 2020/2021 season for Bayern. I think he will convert Ridle Baku to a left-back and expect Kai Havertz to cover for Baku from time to time.
Flick’s love for Havertz is no secret by now and I think Havertz will start. This does not mean that he won’t go for Leroy Sané, a player whom he taught how to defend and who defends for the team as a result now, if Havertz does not do his defensive duties. While Flick likes Timo Werner, I doubt there is a way to fit both Havertz and Werner into the line-up and keep Germany dynamic. Also, I think Flick thinks of Gnabry as a reliable option as far as a goal-getter is concerned and he will play Gnabry more often than not. I doubt Flick will play Werner up front because Werner is not a traditional #9.
The rest of the line-up is self explanatory. Kimmich and Goretzka will be a dreamy double pivot; Kimmich will not be able to play right-back and hence, a traditional righ-tback in Günter will be handed the responsibility. Müller always plays and will continue to play for Flick in the hole behind the striker. Flick likes his center-backs to be good with the ball at their feet which means Hummels or possibly Jerome Boateng, depending on his future in the club game, will be part of the back-line. Süle is fast, especially when compared to Matthias Ginter, and I expect to see the big defender next to Hummels as a result.
I also expect to see Jamal Musiala come in depending on how regularly he plays for Bayern and how Havertz as well as Gnabry performs next season.
Right to Left (4-2-3-1): Manuel Neuer (c) — Niklas Süle, Mats Hummels, Antonio Rüdiger, Marcel Halstenberg — Joshua Kimmich, Leon Goretzka — Serge Gnabry, Thomas Müller, Leroy Sane — Kai Havertz
In goal, there’s no question who will play. Reports are coming out that Manuel Neuer is set to continue his international career under Hansi Flick, and Flick is sure to put his trust into his captain. Neuer has played all but five games during Flick’s tenure at Bayern, four of which were more or less dead rubber games. What’s more, Flick has piled nothing but praise on Neuer at Bayern, and it seems almost certain that he will continue to do so at the national team.
The defense is where it gets a bit hazy. The setup will likely depend on whether Mats Hummels retires or not. If he continues to play, his presence will be valuable in the back line. His partner will be either Matthias Ginter or Antonio Rüdiger, whom I chose because of his great form in the past season. At right-back, expect Niklas Süle to suit up, as he’s shown some excellent performances in that position for his club. On the other side of defense, Robin Gosens will likely lose his starting spot to Marcel Halstenberg, as Flick ditches the unsuccessful back three for his preferred and proven back four. Halstenberg’s Leipzig teammate Lukas Klostermann could also be an option at right-back, but I chose Süle because of the familiarity that Flick has with him already.
In midfield, the choice is clear. Flick will stick to his trusted pairing of Joshua Kimmich and Leon Goretzka, the duo that won him the sextuple. No more explanation necessary.
Should Thomas Müller decide to continue his international career, he’ll also be a mainstay in Flick’s lineup. No coach since Jupp Heynckes has used Müller as well as Flick, so he’d be a fool not to play him. Serge Gnabry will take one spot on the flanks, despite his rather poor showing at the Euros, since his performances under Flick have been amazing on his good days. The other flank remains a slight mystery — will Flick opt for Leroy Sané or Timo Werner? I chose Sane because, like with Süle, Flick has experience with him. However, as Flick has been an avid proponent of Werner, don’t be too surprised if he ends up starting.
Striker-wise, Germany’s talent is sadly bone dry at the moment. Flick will most likely go for Kai Havertz in a false 9 role, as he also has a big fan in the Germany coach. Havertz was also Germany’s top scorer at the Euros (although that’s not saying much), so he’d be the natural choice to spearhead Germany’s attack.
Right to Left (4-2-3-1): Manuel Neuer (c) — Ridle Baku, Niklas Süle, Mats Hummels, Robin Gosens — Joshua Kimmich, Leon Goretzka — Serge Gnabry, Kai Havertz, Timo Werner — [?]
I’ll start from the back and work my way up. Neuer seems like a lock for as long as he’s on his feet and healthy. Seeing as the World Cup is only a year away and not a few years away, I’ll say the now 35-year-old will stay between the sticks.
As for the backline, we know that Hansi loves his young talent. There’s not a better right-back in the German system than Ridle Baku at this moment, and I feel Flick knows that. The opposite wing back will be Robin Gosens. If we recall Alphonso Davies’ transition from right-winger to left side defense, we know that Hansi is able to bring the best out in people transitioning back. Given Gosens already plays what amounts to LWB at Atalanta, it’ll probably not come as a shock seeing him here. Considering Hansi also let Davies push up the field to his own desires, I imagine the same leniency will be given to Gosens. The center-back pairing speaks for itself. Hummels is currently the best center-back in Germany by a longshot (his performance in the Euros sans own goal confirmed it) and Süle is one of Hansi’s old Bayern guys.
When you find something that’s successful, it’s usually smart to stick with it until it proves you wrong. That’s why I was confused by the previous manager’s decision to not start Goretzka and Kimmich in a double pivot. It dominated both German and European football in the 2019-2021 club season — something Hansi will remember well. That’s why he’ll stick with them in the middle.
The toughest part of the lineup to predict is the midfield three. The easier decision was Gnabry on the right. Serge’s poor Euros performance could be chalked up to being played out of position and being asked too much of him. A return to right-wing will suit him and the team. I was going back and forth between playing Havertz or Thomas Müller in the central attacking midfield role. For now, I’ll put in Havertz considering he was Germany’s best player of the Euros. The only consistent thing about Timo Werner was his inconsistency. He’s not reliable enough up front to score goals (for now) and he’s not skilled enough to play on the wing, so where do you put him? A lot of you will say on the bench, but I feel like Werner will get a chance to succeed under Flick.
Which brings me to the easiest position to predict and the hardest one to put a name down for — no, that’s not a typo — the striker position; I put a question mark there on purpose. The biggest challenge facing Hansi Flick is finding a solution at the striker position. The Euros revealed the critical flaws in Germany’s plan to run with Werner and Gnabry at those positions. Simply put, they’re not good enough for what Germany needs. The team needs that presence in the air and through the middle that Mario Gomez and Miroslav Klose had. Without that, the attack is doomed from the start. There are candidates out there (Florian Niederlechner, Gian Luca Waldschmidt) who can fill in for the time being, but within the next five years, Hansi needs to get the clubs of the Bundesliga on his side and develop the next deadly German striker.
Right to Left (4-2-3-1): Manuel Neuer (c) — Lukas Klostermann, Niklas Sule, Mats Hummels, Christian Günter — Joshua Kimmich, Leon Goretzka — Kai Havertz, Thomas Müller, Serge Gnabry — Timo Werner
What we know about Flick is that he likes a reclamation project, he likes Werner and Havertz, he might not be such a big fan of Sane, he trusts Müller, and that he loves the double pivot of Kimmich and Goretzka.
Where I had problems in trying to read Flick’s mind were with the outside back positions. I would not consider it out of the realm of possibility for Flick to use Niklas Süle as the right-back and for Antonio Rüdiger to then slide back into a starting center-back role. Players like Ridle Baku, Christian Günter, and Marcel Halstenberg could also play bigger roles, but I feel like Flick will let Klostermann and Gosens take the first crack at starting. Gosens, of course, is not as defensive as Flick would like as an outside-back, but he can provide that dynamic offensive support that Flick craves from his full-backs. If Gosens cannot make the transition (and there is no guarantee that he can), I think we’ll see Günter or Halstenberg get a closer look pretty quickly.
Offensively, I think Flick will be on a mission to show everyone that Germany can win without a true No. 9. Flick already knows how to deploy Müller and Gnabry, while he had visions of how he wanted to roll out Werner and Havertz at Bayern Munich. I don’t think Flick overtly dislikes Sané, but there was clearly enough friction there that I think Sané will be a reserve — at least at the beginning of Flick’s tenure.
Neuer is a no-brainer.
So, there you have it! How do you think Germany will line up under Hansi Flick? Let us know your thoughts below and, as always, thank you for reading!