When Germany takes on England at Wembley Stadium later today, former Bayern Munich manager Hansi Flick will have yet another chance to evaluate where his team is at ahead of the World Cup.
While Flick’s tenure as head coach of the German national team has been successful so far, Friday’s 1-0 defeat at the hands of Hungary has some fans feeling on edge. Here are three key storylines to keep an eye out for during the match.
Can the attack be more dangerous — and efficient?
Germany had 72% of the possession against Hungary, but only managed seven total shots with only three on target per Tribuna. For all of the talent available, those are abysmal numbers.
Even with the limited amount of shots, Germany should have come away with something considering the quality of some of those chances. Regardless, it is a new match and Flick will be looking to get his squad on the scoreboard early and often against a suspect backline for England.
There is absolutely some intrigue as to who Flick will start. We do know that Jamal Musiala will be in the lineup, but it is unclear if he will play as a forward or a midfielder. Either way, the former English youth international will be looking to make an impact.
As for Bayern Munich star Thomas Müller, the veteran looks like he is running on fumes and could use some downtime. Let’s hope that happens. Leroy Sané should get the nod again, while Serge Gnabry is a question mark.
A new backline
Flick will be without Antonio Rüdiger, so Niklas Süle and Nico Schlotterbeck are the most likely duo to get the call at center-back, but Matthias Ginter and Armel Bella-Kotchap could also get a look. At the outside-back positions, Flick will likely go less heavy on offense after using Jonas Hofmann (RB) and David Raum (LB) against Hungary.
We could see Robin Gosens get the call at left-back, though he is also more known for his attacking ability than his defensive prowess. Thilo Kehrer is looking like the most likely option at right-back, though Ginter could also get the nod at that position as well.
Players like Gosens, Ginter, and Bella-Kotchap could be on the bubble for a World Cup roster slot, so if any of them get the nod to start, they will have to perform well — or risk exposing themselves to an unkind cut in the coming weeks.
After a flat and uninspired performance — and in a match today that really means nothing — Germany’s focus and resolve will be tested. Will the squad respond to Flick’s call for improvement or will it just go through the motions ahead of returning to club play.
Should Germany lack energy once more, Flick is going to have to start to worry about the mental makeup of this group. There has to be an inherent desire to achieve even in the most mundane of matches. While England as an opponent and Wembley Stadium as a setting should be enough to draw out the fire in any team, Germany can ill-afford to look ahead to the flight home.
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