With no more time left to prepare, Germany face Japan in their opening game of the 2022 World Cup. Memories of 2018 will still linger in the minds of this new-look German side, many of whom never experienced the highs of the 2014 triumph in-person. Hansi Flick, signed from Bayern Munich by the DFB to lead his country to redemption, has a number of problems to solve ahead of kickoff. How will the Germans fare?
The plan was to start all seven Bayern Munich players and have them work their magic. That’s now been derailed because of an injury to Leroy Sane. We don’t have many details, but he will definitely miss the Japan game due to a knee problem. Where does that leave the lineup? Well, it should theoretically be quite simple.
Hansi Flick can field a standard 4-2-3-1, with Niclas Fullkrug up top, flanked by Jamal Musiala and Serge Gnabry with Thomas Muller playing behind in the attacking midfield position. If Muller isn’t fit, then Kai Havertz and Julian Brandt can be alternate options for the attack.
In midfield, Leon Goretzka and Joshua Kimmich would be the obvious choices given their performances for Bayern this season. They have the rhythm and the chemistry you want in an international quality midfield, and they’re already familiar with the demands of Hansi Flick’s system. Gundogan would be the main alternative off the bench, unless the coach thinks he prefers the Manchester City midfielder’s ability to provide control over Goretzka’s more physical approach.
The backline is a totally different story. David Raum is probably going to start at left-back, though he hasn’t been in good form at club level this season. Niklas Sule and Antonio Rudiger are the main candidates to start in central defense, with Thilo Kehrer usually favored by the coach at right-back. There has been some suggestions that Sule could take Kehrer’s spot on the flank, but that would leave the other CB spot empty for either Nico Schlotterbeck or Matthias Ginter — not an ideal situation. Frankly, the defense is Germany’s main headache in this tournament.
If all else fails, there’s Manuel Neuer in the keeper role. He’ll need to be on his A game versus Japan and the rest of the tournament. Here’s what the starting XI could look like:
Well that’s that then. If you’re interested in a pessimistic take on why Germany could be in trouble this World Cup, then why not check out our podcast? We also tackle the Neuer armband issue and a question about Thomas Muller’s legacy. Listen to it below or on Spotify.
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Hansi Flick provides an optimistic outlook for Thomas Muller in tomorrow’s game.
Flick on Thomas Müller: "He's definitely an option for tomorrow. He did a very good job in training today. We're happy with him. He gives us one more option." pic.twitter.com/4V18HOHp9b— Bayern & Germany (@iMiaSanMia) November 22, 2022
Bild predicts that Kai Havertz will start. But ... why?