Germany’s World Cup exit has been labelled a ‘disgrace’ back home after they crashed out at the group stage for the second time in four years on Thursday night. Having only picked up one point from their opening two games in the tournament, Germany needed to beat Costa Rica and hope other results went their way.
They managed to emerge victorious 4-2, but with Japan coming from behind to beat Spain 2-1 thanks to a highly-controversial goal, Hansi Flick’s side went out on goal difference. Fellow German outlet Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung weren’t in a forgiving mood either, as they wrote: ‘German football is at rock bottom again, four years after a historic first-round exit.’
Meanwhile, the Hamburg and Dresden Morning Posts both referenced Germany’s dismal showing in Qatar with the headline ‘Katarstrophe’. Germany conceded five goals in their three matches, and national team legend Lothar Matthaus has hit out at the team’s defence for their displays in the tournament.
Bild have laid into the team, insisting ‘it is a disgrace’ that they have failed to make it to the knockout rounds once again, while also describing their opening-game defeat to Japan, which went some way to sealing their fate, ’embarrassing’.
‘It was down to the defence, that was too easy for the opponent, against Japan, also against Costa Rica. Don’t be surprised if you make mistakes like this,’ he told Bild. Creating chances was not an issue for the side, but they failed to make the most of their opportunities, and Matthaus was also critical of the attack for their lack of ruthlessness in front of goal.
‘It was also due to the conversion of chances, that was bad luck, but also inability. It would have been possible to score a lot more goals,’ he added. German national team director Oliver Bierhoff agreed with Matthaus’ comments, admitting the four-time world champions must return to being clinical if they want to get back to the top of international football.
Bastian Schweinsteiger, who played a key role in that tournament, feels Antonio Rudiger is the only top-level defender in the current team and that led to their demise in Qatar.‘Very, very bad. In defence, we only have one player who plays at a high level and that’s Toni Rudiger. The others – that’s normal Bundesliga level and we have to get back to having a good defence,’ he said, as quoted by Der Westen.
‘I’ve said that before. We lack the German efficiency that we always had,’ he conceded when speaking to Bild after Thursday’s match. Matthaus and Bierhoff both won major trophies with Germany, but the team’s only triumph in the 21st century came in the 2014 World Cup.
When a team fails at a major tournament, the finger is often pointed at the manager. However, World Cup winner Sami Khedira and Thomas Hitzlsperger both agree that Flick must be given time to turn things around, although they admitted he did make a number of mistakes throughout Germany’s World Cup campaign.
‘He’s already proven it (his quality) at Bayern. He’s very clear, has a great team and a good game idea. He’s strict, but at the same time a people catcher. I’d like Hansi to stay.’ Hitzlsperger concurred, and questioned the quality of the squad that Flick is working with, telling ARD: ‘It was his first major tournament with primary responsibility. Are we really that good? Do we really have such great players?
‘He has to get the chance to learn from these mistakes, which are now being revealed in the analysis. I think it’s absolute nonsense to kick the coach out now.’ Others were less willing to back Flick, though, with Bavarian Football Works claiming the manager should offer his resignation if he has ‘any dignity’ after watching his side fall at the first hurdle.
‘Kimmich started high on the right side. If you already put Kimmich up high, then you need someone in the middle who uses it. He wants to be in the middle, he wants to play the game. Leon Goretzka is not a connection player, not a combination player. Flick gambled a bit on that,’ Khedira told Eurosport.
They also stated that Thomas Muller, who admitted he may retire from international football, has tarnished his reputation with his performances at the last two World Cups, and said an entire generation of players had been wasted.