On September 10, the German national team officially fired Hansi Flick from his position as head coach. This dismissal occurred after Germany’s humiliating defeat at the hands of Japan with a score of 1-4 in a friendly match 1 day earlier. After that, Germany was successful in beating France with a score of 2-1 in the hands of interim coach Rudi Voller, but Germany will certainly look for a replacement coach as soon as possible, especially since Euro 2024 is less than a year away. Who is the right replacement for the German national team?
Hansi Flick’s performance with the German national team has not been very convincing since the 2022 World Cup. With a record of 4 points, Germany was eliminated again in the group phase of the 2022 World Cup. Apart from that, Germany was only able to achieve 1 victory against Peru in the first friendly match in 2023. After that, Germany was no longer able to win. The results achieved by Germany were a draw against Ukraine and defeats against Belgium, Poland, Colombia and most recently Japan.
From these matches, there were 3 things that were the main problems for the German national team and could be improved ahead of the upcoming Euro 2024 tournament. Moreover, at Euro 2024, Germany will act as host. Of course, as hosts, Germany doesn’t want to appear embarrassing, especially if they are eliminated in the group phase without being able to put up a fight. So, several sectors that must be improved by the German national team include the defense line, front line and the selection of players by the coach.
Germany’s current defense line is not as tough as it used to be. The main problem with the German national team at the moment is the lack of awareness of the holes in the back line and the lack of a leader in the German defense. If we look back at the goals experienced by the German national team, there are many incidents where the back line posts appear empty, especially in the wing-back position.
Moreover, the German national team is a team that relies on high pressing which makes the defense more easily exposed to opponent attacks. High pressing is indeed a risky tactic because if players have low positional awareness and are unable to immediately return to their respective positions, it will be easier for the opponent to break through the defense line.
Apart from that, Germany also lacks a leader in the back line. Germany used to have Philipp Lahm who was able to act as a leader and player with a high vision who guarded the German national team’s back line. After Lahm retired, there was no longer a defender who could replace his role in the back line.
Neuer is indeed a leader, but Germany still needs a defender who can act as a kind of coordinator for the players in the back line. This weakness is visible because the majority of goals against Germany occurred due to the defender’s lack of awareness of the whereabouts of the opponent and the ball. In fact, often the goals that occur could have been avoided if the defenders were more aware of their position.
Germany’s front line has had one big problem since the loss of Miroslav Klose. They don’t have a predator on the front lines. The striker that Germany currently has is not a pure goal-scoring striker who can provide a sense of security on Germany’s front line.
Germany’s main strikers currently are Timo Werner and Kai Havertz. These two players are players who are plotted as strikers but do not act as strikers. Timo Werner is indeed quite productive in scoring goals for the German national team, but he is more suited to moving wider and being an additional winger. Meanwhile, Havertz could be said to have completely failed to play the role of German striker.
Havertz is not a striker. Havertz is a figure who should have the freedom to move in the team’s midfield to make maximum contribution. Restricted movement up front will limit Havertz’s potential. This should be a note for Mikel Arteta as his coach at Arsenal and future coach of the German national team.
In fact, currently Germany has a pure striker who is able to pose a threat to the opponent. This name is Niclas Fullkrug who currently plays at Borussia Dortmund. So, this is what will be the discussion on the current problems of the three German national teams.
Hansi Flick is indeed an extraordinary coach. Flick was able to win all the trophies available to Bayern Munich in 2020. However, Flick has one fatal weakness as a coach, especially in the German national team, namely his stubbornness, especially in selecting players.
One thing that seems clear is how Hansi Flick continues to impose Havertz’s position as main striker when Germany has Niclas Fullkrug. In fact, it is clear that Havertz was unable to make any contribution when playing in that position. In fact, during the 2022 World Cup, Germany’s victory over Costa Rica was inseparable from the inclusion of Fullkrug as the spearhead of the team and Havertz who played a little more down in the mid-front line. Not playing Fullkrug as a forward and forcing Havertz as the spearhead is an action that wastes the potential of these two great players.
Another problem is at the back. In terms of quality, the German defense line is no longer as good as before, especially in the wing-back sector. Big German clubs such as Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund do not rely on German wing-backs. Bayern used Alphonso Davies (Canada) and Noussari Mazraoui (Morocco) as the main wing-backs and Dortmund relied on Ramy Bensebaini (Algeria, previously Raphael Guerreiro from Portugal) and Julian Ryerson (Norway) as wing-backs.
In the wing-back sector, Germany actually has David Raum and Benjamin Henrichs who appeared at RB Leipzig. However, only Raum is able to become a player in the German national team. Raum also had a problem where he was often late in returning to his position so it was not surprising that many of the opponent’s attacks came from the empty gaps left by Raum on the left side of the German defense.
Another name who fills this sector is Nico Schlotterbeck, whose original position is as a center back. Schlotterbeck seemed overwhelmed in filling the left back position because he was not used to that position. In the right-back sector, Henrichs, who is Leipzig’s mainstay, is not relied on at all. Flick has more confidence in players like Jonas Hofmann, Lukas Klostermann and Thilo Kehrer. Tragically, Klostermann was Henrichs’ back-up at Leipzig and neither Hofmann nor Kehrer were pure right-backs.
In the next few weeks/months it will certainly be an interesting story regarding which coach will take control of the German national team coaching chair. There are several candidates for this position, one of which is Jurgen Klopp.
However, Klopp himself has dismissed rumors of him joining the German national team and chose to focus on and honor his contract with Liverpool. It will only be possible for Klopp to join the German national team after the 2026 World Cup when his contract with Liverpool expires (that is, if it is not extended).
Other names rumored to be in charge of the German national team are Julian Nagelsmann. However, the biggest challenge in getting Nagelsmann’s signature is the coach’s contractual ties with Bayern. So any team/club that wants to sign Nagelsmann has to dig into their pockets to pay the remainder of Nagelsmann’s contract. Another name is the Dutch coach, Louis van Gaal, who no longer serves as coach of any team after resigning from the Dutch coaching chair.
There are several other interesting names, namely the coach from Austria, Oliver Glasner. Glasner is the coach who led Eintracht Frankfurt to win the UEFA Europa League in 2022, so a coach of Glasner’s caliber is an interesting figure for the German national team, especially since this coach currently has no contract with any team.
An interesting name is the emergence of Rudi Voller and Matthias Sammer as short-term candidates. Voller, who was appointed as caretaker, showed good performance after beating the French national team with a score of 2-1. However, the biggest problem with Voller and Sammer is that these two figures have not dealt with strategy on the field for a very long time.
Both Voller and Sammer last acted as coaches in 2005. Then, both of them played more roles as team directors. Rudi Voller as director of the German national team and Matthias Sammer as director of the Borussia Dortmund team.
Whoever is appointed as coach, that person will have the tough task of bringing the German national team out of its downturn ahead of the Euro 2024 tournament. Another problem that awaits the new coach is the lack of competitive matches for the German national team.
While other teams have to go through qualifying events and have competitive matches, the German national team does not have that schedule because of Germany’s status as host. As hosts, Germany can only rely on friendly matches against several European teams that do not have scheduled matches in the Euro qualifying round and teams from the North American and Asian zones.