Eighteen months. That’s the distance — more of a sprint — between the end of this year’s FIFA Men’s World Cup and the next Men’s European Championships, to be hosted by Germany. For a national team with wounded pride and recent stumbles, everything will be on the line. They must change — but not too much, and not in the wrong direction.
National team coach Hansi Flick is therefore trying to talk a calm approach. His predecessor Joachim Löw famously axed a Bayern Munich trio from the national team — Thomas Müller among them, as well as now-alums Jérôme Boateng and Mats Hummels — to usher in a future that never came. By the time the next Euros did roll around, a year belated at that, Löw was asking Müller and Hummels to rejoin for another go.
Now it’s Müller again in the crosshairs. The venerable Raumdeuter’s comments after Germany’s group stage exit sounded an awful lot like goodbye, and 36-year-old keeper Manuel Neuer’s broken leg sustained in a ski accident puts another veteran in a difficult spot. Sky Sports asked Flick if retirement was on the minds of either national team mainstay, but for now, it sounds like they’re still welcome to make a return.
“I’ll try to talk to every player in calm over the next few days,” Flick told Sky this week (via @iMiaSanMia). “I’ll talk to Thomas Müller about that too. We’ve spoken briefly, but not in detail yet.”
On the injured Bayern keeper, Flick expressed sympathy.
“Manuel is injured for now. I’m very sorry for him because after the World Cup it’s another situation that’s not easy for him. The most important thing for him now is that he gets fit again and gets back to his old form. That’s the focus,” Flick said.
Without either player, Germany would have to fill giant shoes, at least in terms of experience and vocal on-field leadership. Time will tell if they’ll be ready to go again after this latest debacle, but a summer home tournament at EURO 2024 would be a fitting send-off for these two legends. Here’s hoping they’ll be back.