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Hansi Flick defends his Germany substitutions in loss to Japan

Not easy being in the coach’s chair!

Germany v Japan: Group E - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images

Time is running out for Germany to make good on their intent to make amends for their shock group stage exit in the FIFA 2018 Men’s World Cup. Hansi Flick’s side look like they have a long, long way to go to make the adjustments needed. And Spain are terrifying.

Late in Joachim Löw’s tenure, it was easy to blame a coach losing touch with both his players and the game on Germany’s poor run of form. Now, Flick finds himself under fire for many of the same ills on display over these past four years — from line-up and call-up decisions to tactics and substitutions.

There’ll be lots of time to dissect it all. For now, Hansi defended and explained some of the bigger change-ups he made — like Jonas Hofmann on for Thomas Müller in the 67th minute — in the face of suggestions that it disrupted the team’s rhythm.

"We just wanted to bring in fresh energy. Thomas hasn't played for a long time, so that was the right thing to do,” Flick explained (via @iMiaSanMia) while alluding to individual errors as the primary cause of the loss.

Germany’s full list of subs in Flick’s first World Cup game in charge:

  • 67’ — Jonas Hofmann for Thomas Müller
  • 67’ — İlkay Gündoğan for Leon Goretzka
  • 79’ — Mario Götze for Jamal Musiala
  • 79’ — Niclas Füllkrug for Kai Havertz
  • 90’ — Youssoufa Moukoko for Serge Gnabry


Frankly, this doesn’t look too bad to me — but I welcome your rejoinders. If anything, subs might have come earlier in a game that Germany was controlling but not killing off.

Müller has barely played for Bayern Munich over the last month plus; it’s a bonus that he was able to start and go as long as he did today. The other earlier substitution was logical to rotate in central midfield, and might have come even earlier. Manchester City’s Gündoğan also gets a little more stick than he deserves, and Goretzka will likely be fresher to start vs Spain.

Germany’s next round of subs came late and with the score knotted. At that point, what is there to do but try different attackers for your tired legs up front? Musiala is extraordinary, but he had nearly eighty minutes.

My main gripe here — if anything, Füllkrug could have come on a lot earlier to try to bring in the dimension to create a 2-0.

But this is a Germany team that didn't have Timo Werner or Leroy Sané as options today. Those losses are being keenly felt. As was, in the end, a lax and lackluster phase in the second half from a talented bunch of players that absolutely should have done better.

Interested in a more in-depth (and miserable) review of the game and what went wrong? Then why not check out our postgame podcast? We talk about Flick’s selections, underperforming players, tactical issues, and more! Listen to it below or on Spotify.

As always, we appreciate your support!

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