Aside from Manchester City’s Ilkay Gundogan converting his penalty in the first half, nothing really seemed to go right for Germany in their shock 2-1 loss to Japan in the opener of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. It’s the last way Hansi Flick’s side would’ve wanted to start the group stages, especially having to play Spain second, but they have no one to blame but themselves for the performance they put forth and the were simply not good enough against an inspired Japan side.
There were five Bayern Munich players in Flick’s starting eleven in the loss to Japan; Manuel Neuer, Joshua Kimmich, Serge Gnabry, Jamal Musiala and Thomas Muller. Leroy Sane was out with a knee problem and Leon Goretzka came on as a substitute in the second half. No one really stuck out as incredibly effective during the loss but Bayern and Germany legend Lothar Matthäus feels that there should be some changes to the lineup to take on Spain, and he notably chose to leave out Muller.
Matthäus cited his concern with Muller coming back from a considerable injury layover and said that it’s holding the Raumdeuter back from playing to his full potential. He feels it was too much to thrust him right into the German starting lineup after missing a decent chunk of time with Bayern.
“Thomas Müller reminded me of my last tournament, Euro 2000. Back then I came back from a 2-week injury and never found my game. Now I have the impression that Thomas is not 100% fit. He was not in the game,” Matthäus told Bild (via @iMiaSanMia). For Matthäus, it’s more of a matter of feeling someone else that’s fully fit might be better served being out on the pitch to be able to help the overall performance more than Muller might be able to right now without being fully fit.
For his particular preferred lineup against Spain, Matthäus made four changes to the side that Flick fielded against Japan in Doha. He chose to bring in Werder Bremen’s Niclas Füllkrug, Goretzka, SC Freiburg’s Christian Günter, and West Ham United’s Thilo Kehrer, relegating Muller, Kai Havertz, David Raum, and Nico Schlotterbeck to the bench.
Let us know how you feel about this proposed starting eleven from Matthäus in the comments section what changes YOU would like to see Flick make!