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Germany’s Antonio Rüdiger: “We’re back to zero”

Not good enough.

Costa Rica v Germany: Group E - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Photo by Pablo Morano/BSR Agency/Getty Images

Germany’s bitter exit at the FIFA 2022 Men’s World Cup has its players struggling to accept and to process. What has to change, after going out on tiebreaks to Spain? For Real Madrid’s Antonio Rüdiger, the answer is everything.

“We’re back to zero, that’s the harsh reality,” Rüdiger said to the media after the game (via @iMiaSanMia). “Lots of talent, that’s all well and good, but it’s not enough — there’s simply more to it. There are other factors as well: the ultimate desire, playing dirty sometimes — we lack that. We’re a very, very ‘nice’ team.”

The comments call to mind José Mourinho’s famous exhortation to his Tottenham Hotspur players in their All or Nothing documentary from the 2019/20 season. “We are too good guys,” Mourinho said in one of many occasions in which he called on them to develop a more aggressive side to their game.

Desire and attitude are maybe unusual things to question when it comes to this German side, though. There’s Bayern Munich’s ferocious Joshua Kimmich and relentlessly driven Thomas Müller, for starters. With Borussia Dortmund’s Niklas Süle and Rüdiger himself, they’re not short on a little bit of attitude in defense, either.

But with nothing to show for it, it really is back to the drawing board. The challenge now will be to ask the right questions, and to answer them in the right ways.

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.

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