“The worst day of my career,” he would proceed. The maximum attempting and constant performer for Germany right through their quick keep in Qatar right here, Kimmich would raise on within the style of the shell-shocked, telling somebody who cared to pay attention. “I joined the national team in 2016 and since then, we have lost twice in groups. I haven’t been able to help my team. I have failed.
Germany not only fell once to the defending champions’ jinx, failing to advance from their group in Russia four years ago. In Qatar, they did an Italy, exiting in the league phase for the second time after being crowned world champions two tournaments previously. Remember Italy have failed to qualify for two consecutive World Cups since first round exit in Brazil 2014.
While such tame early exits for a team and nation of Germany’s caliber and history are hard to accept, their continuing ordinariness can be gauged by the obvious decline of Thomas Mueller, once heralded as a modern-day great when he burst upon the scene in 2010. To install South Africa.
Mueller scored 10 goals in his first 12 World Cup matches (from South Africa 2010 to Brazil 2014). He played seven more games in Russia 2018 and Qatar here, but did not find the net even once. The writing was on the wall, they were too blinded to see it.
Against Costa Rica on Thursday, it was Mueller’s replacement, Kai Havertz, who got two goals and saved the former four-time world champions some blushes, after a Manuel Neuer own goal gave the South Americans the lead.
German manager Hansi Flick said later: “If there is one positive we can take, despite all this disappointment, it’s that we fought back. It was really Kai who turned the game around. He gave us a bit more pep, and at least we got a win before we go home,” he said.
More specifically, Flick, with that quiet, resigned look of a suburban father forever running late to drop his teenaged kids to Zumba sessions or ‘soccer’ practice, was asked if Germany were actually world class anymore?
“It’s not great for Germany right now. It wasn’t great before either, the atmosphere in Germany. Those who know me know that I will review it very soon,” Flick said.
What is your personal realistic perception of the team, someone asked?
“The results and the outcome from the World Cup must be taken into account. That’s the direction that it has to go in,” answered Flick. “Despite that, we have players that play at top clubs and, as I say, we have quality. I think it’s important for the future of German football that we do things differently in our training. We’ve been talking for years about our need for a No. 9 or strong fullbacks… talking about a lot of things.
“What has always made German football has been our ability to defend. These are elements that we need in our youth systems, we need to do the basics. The basics which teams like Japan and Spain have. Knowing how to handle the ball, well drilled in tactics and so on. I think that is incredibly important for the future, for the next 10 years.”
Then Flick was asked about Jamal Musiala.
“It’s really a pity that a player like Jamal won’t play again at this World Cup. He’s simply fantastic… but we have to see what comes after that in Germany, in terms of youth development”. Because, Flick reminded us, “Jamal wasn’t educated in Germany, however in England.”