Germany fans are probably pretty apathetic about this World Cup, if not pessimistic. After all, many Bundesliga fans have already made it clear that they would boycott the controversial tournament in Qatar, and judging from the national team’s recent results, a good run in the competition wasn’t really expected. Low expectations became reality when Germany suffered a 1-2 defeat to Japan in their opening game, leaving them with an immense mountain to climb to even stand a chance of getting out of the group, and condemning this writer to a few days’ worth of headaches.
The German national team now faces a do-or-die match against giants Spain, who blew Costa Rica away 7-0 in their opener. Defeat would effectively doom Germany to a second consecutive group stage exit. Judging from the collapse against Japan, it would take a miracle for Germany to keep their chances of progress alive. It wouldn’t be too surprising if the morale in the team was at an all-time low.
However, judging from the released photos from Germany’s latest training session, that does not seem to be the case. Rather, the team seemed to be in quite good spirits.
Coach Hansi Flick was all smiles as he conducted the session, even tackling some of his players in big hugs. The players were seemingly affected by his mood, as they gave each other piggyback rides, for some reason. Maybe it was a test to see just how much pressure the team can take? Lord knows they must be under a lot.
While Thomas Müller seemed quite comfortable carrying Joshua Kimmich on his back, the same could not be said for Niclas Füllkrug, who struggled under the weight of captain Manuel Neuer. Oh, and thoughts and prayers go out to Christian Günter, who had the refrigerator weight of Niklas Süle on his shoulders. But even the laboring Günter didn’t look displeased with his predicament, which probably attests for the good vibes in the team.
Of course, one cannot judge how good team spirit is based on a few photos. But training photos can’t really be staged — they’re mostly action shots, which means they have at least some degree of authenticity to them. If that is the case here too, then there is no reason to suspect that the team is in a bad mood.
It is very encouraging to see that the team is at least seemingly in good spirits. Keeping morale up is very important, especially ahead of the biggest game of the tournament. It has to be hard to maintain good vibes in light of the Japan defeat, but it is reassuring to see that it doesn’t look like the team has let it get them down. Some credit must go to Flick, as he must have had at least some part in getting the team fired up for the crunch match on Sunday.
Realistically speaking, Germany will find it very hard to defeat a high-flying Spain. However, if the team gives it their all and performs with pride and passion, then they will be applauded regardless of the result. If Kai Havertz’s words at today’s press conference are anything to go by, the team is now fully focused on getting the job done. The crisis meeting after the Japan game was apparently an eye-opener, and the team is ready to put 100% on the pitch against Spain. They did it for 70 minutes against Japan, now they just have to do it for the whole 90+ minutes.
To make matters even better, Leroy Sané, who missed the Japan game due to knee problems, returned to team training and completed parts of the unit. A return against Spain is definitely possible, the decision will be made after tomorrow’s final session. If Sané does return, Flick will have his entire 26-man squad at his disposal, which is good, since he needs all the help he can get as he gears up for the biggest match of his career since the Champions League final in Lisbon.