Germany and Japan have no actual beef with each other, but that doesn’t mean this isn’t a high stakes game. Hansi Flick and the Germans need a win to justify the direction of the project, or else the entire thing will need to be thrown out and rebuilt before next year’s Euros.
While Bayern Munich may have started the season with a string of three wins on the bounce, there’s no guarantee that Germany will do the same. So what does Flick have planned to raise his chances?
Jamal Musiala was not able to join the team due to back problems, and stayed back in Munich — no other player was called up in his place. Meanwhile Niclas Füllkrug, the only elite level striker in a football-obsessed country of over 80 million people, got injured minutes after joining Borussia Dortmund and had to be replaced by Thomas Müller. That’s ... not a great start.
So, in terms of the lineup, reports indicate that Flick is planning to go with a 4-2-3-1, no back threes in sight. Arsenal striker Kai Havertz is set to start up top, possibly supported by Leroy Sane and Serge Gnabry on the wings, and Bayer Leverkusen’s Florian Wirtz in the center.
The midfield will likely be occupied by Ilkay Gündoğan and Emre Can, with Joshua Kimmich being moved to the right-back slot where he last played during the previous Euros under Joachim Low. Reports from the training ground indicate that Kimmich will be expected to invert and support the midfield while Germany are in possession, and take the role of a standard defender in a back four when his team loses the ball. It seems like a solid enough plan, but things may end up different when it comes time to execute on the pitch.
The rest of the defense is mostly up in the air, but Flick has confirmed he’ll go with Niklas Süle over Malik Thiaw in one of the center-back spots, with the other slot presumably going to Real Madrid’s Antonio Rüdiger. Nico Schlotterbeck is, for some reason, expected to start as a left-back and play somewhat conservatively on his flank, which is worrying, because that means the defense will be 50% BVB. FC Barcelona keeper Marc-André ter Stegen might have his hands full keeping a clean sheet with that backline in front of him, so we’ll have to hope he’s planning to make good on his promise to succeed Manuel Neuer.
Here’s what the starting XI could look like:
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