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Five observations from Germany’s pointless 4-2 win over Costa Rica at the World Cup

Germany leave the World Cup on a win. Another tournament disaster from them.

Costa Rica v Germany - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Photo by Serhat Cagdas/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Hansi Flick didn’t have a clue

If Flick has any dignity, he should probably offer his resignation. For a man who won the treble with Bayern Munich, he has shown none of the intensity or tactical acumen that took the football world by storm in 2020. Germany floundered, and the coach was heavily responsible.

Right from the opener versus Japan, the decisions made by Flick turned a straightforward game into an almost Sisyphean task. He refused to keep it simple, instead opting for baffling experiments and lineup combinations that made no sense.

Niclas Fullkrug, the man in form and the only real striker on the team, did not start a single game at this World Cup. Joshua Kimmich and Leon Goretzka, the midfield pairing used by Nagelsmann to amazing success at Bayern Munich, got only a single game versus Spain. Thomas Muller and Kai Havertz, players who are not strikers by trade, were asked to play up top. We can go on and on.

When Joachim Low got knocked out in the 2018 group stage, he took the brunt of the criticism. Well, Flick must take the blame here. His decisions crippled Germany from the start, and this group stage knockout was the only viable outcome.

Thomas Muller’s legacy tarnished

Thomas Muller has had two horrendous World Cups in a row. What a fall from grace for a man who won the Golden Boot over a decade ago. Now he’s exited the national stage, probably never to return.

This is so sad to see. What will people remember when they think of Thomas Muller the national team footballer? Will they remember the good early years, or the bad later ones?

Then again ... maybe it’s for the best. He can focus on club football now, win some more Champions League titles with whatever little bit his body can still offer him. Then, when he’s ready to hang up his boots ... a coaching position? Maybe? Germany could use a decent coach.

A whole generation of players wasted

People will say that this German national team side lacks talent, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Look at the players that Flick had at his disposal. Not only were there veterans like Thomas Muller, Manuel Neuer, and Ilkay Gundogan, guys like Joshua Kimmich, Leon Goretzka, Leroy Sane, Niklas Sule, Antonio Rudiger, and Serge Gnabry were all available and in their prime years.

This is the kind of talent that coaches dream of having. Yet, Germany couldn’t do anything with it. Now, a chunk of that talent will be well into their thirties when the next World Cup rolls around. Can they recover from this setback?

Besides, in terms of the next generation, who does Germany have? Jamal Musiala and Kai Havertz? Maybe Florian Wirtz and Youssoufa Moukoko? That’s just not enough. The Germans might have missed a window of opportunity here. Talent like this doesn’t just grow on trees.

The Bayern Munich core was rendered pointless without defenders

When Germany won the World Cup in 2014, the core was made up of players from Bayern Munich. Muller, Schweinsteiger, Gotze, Kroos, Lahm, Boateng and Neuer all contributed heavily to that triumph, and they all played for the same club at the time. Coming into this tournament, the same recipe was present. Hansi Flick had a core of seven Bayern players coming into this tournament, but he failed to leverage it

The real problem was the defense. In 2014, half the defense (and the keeper) was from Bayern, with Philipp Lahm marshaling the backline. This year, Germany’s defense was a hodgepodge from different clubs across Europe, and none of them had the leadership capability of the 2014 group. So when put under pressure, they crumbled. It’s where the dominoes began to fall.

Maybe it says something that Bayern Munich no longer think that Germans are good enough to play in defense for the club. Look at France and what Dayot Upamecano is doing there. That’s what a top quality defender is capable of. Germany do not have that kind of talent, and that gap was never addressed by the coach. Hence the “Bayern core” of this generation were rendered ineffective (among other reasons).

Germany do not deserve Jamal Musiala

Jamal Musiala was probably the lone bright spot in this dismal World Cup campaign for Germany, even though he didn’t manage to score. This kid is a superstar and he deserved better. If only Flick didn’t handicap his team with such terrible lineups, if only his teammates could provide him support, if only ...

We could go on and on. Frankly, after this World Cup and the Euros, you wouldn’t blame Musiala for regretting his decision to choose Germany. Imagine saying that a few years ago. It’s sad to see how far this national team has fallen. Will it sink even further?

And in case you haven’t listened to it yet, here’s a special edition postgame + weekend warm up podcast to get you ready for the weekend! We look at Germany’s shortcomings, Hansi Flick’s approach, Japan’s wonderful run ... and close out with some classical music talk! Listen below or on Spotify.

As always, we appreciate all your support!

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