DOHA, Qatar — There is a Eighties Richard Pryor film known as “The Toy,” wherein Jackie Gleason’s character delivers a speech to his son concerning the distinction between “truth” and “reality.” 4 a long time later, Germany boss Hansi Flick could need to do the identical factor.
The “truth” of their 2-1 defeat by the hands of Japan is that they dominated possession (74% to 26%), put collectively greater than 2.4 anticipated objectives (plus a transformed penalty), pressured a pair nice saves from Japan keeper Shuichi Gonda, hit the woodwork twice and had their ending been higher, they might have been dwelling free earlier than Japan’s rousing second-half comeback.
The “reality” is reasonably completely different. For all of the dominance of the primary half, Germany solely took the lead as a result of Gonda gifted them a penalty. All these pictures — Germany had 26, Japan 11 — that add as much as a gaudy anticipated objectives? Properly, 10 of them had been from outdoors the realm, which is reasonably sub-optimal. They had been undone by Japan’s athleticism, stamina, energy and self-belief, precisely these qualities which, traditionally, had been the key to Germany’s success.
And there is extra actuality. Germany’s central attacking gamers, Kai Havertz and Thomas Muller, mustered a single try on aim between them (and even that one was off track). Flick had no solutions for Japan boss Hajime Moriyasu’s second-half substitutions and alter of techniques; consequently, that is the second straight World Cup wherein Germany misplaced their opening sport.
Then there’s the harshest actuality of all. Subsequent up for Germany is Spain, who crushed Costa Rica 7-0. If Germany drop factors in Sunday’s sport, they now not management their very own future and will exit of their second straight World Cup on the group stage. It is a prospect as unthinkable as Oktoberfest with non-alcoholic beer and Tofu Bratwurst.
The problem for Flick is making sense of what went flawed towards Japan. He knew his entrance line was about sq. pegs in spherical holes, however he felt — maybe understandably — that he needed to put his finest guys on the market. The end result was a puzzle the place all of the items did not match collectively.
Havertz at center-forward mirrors how he performs along with his membership, Chelsea. Regardless of being a supremely expert participant who suffers greater than he ought to in tight areas (and Japan did pack the penalty space), Havertz seems to be like he is nonetheless studying the place. That is how he finally ends up with video games had been his contribution is almost impalpable, like this one.
The 33-year-old model of Thomas Muller, lined up behind him, did little aside from clog house — house his teammate, the younger and electrical Jamal Musiala, might have used. It is most likely why the younger Bayern star ended up exploring the suitable flank and getting in Serge Gnabry‘s means as an alternative. With quite a lot of time and work, you possibly can most likely make this entrance 4 match collectively in a means that is sensible, capitalizing on the wealth of creativity offered by Ilkay Gundogan and Joshua Kimmich in midfield. Flick does not have that luxurious; he has two extra video games to get it proper and qualify for the spherical of 16.
Nonetheless, Flick most certainly does not have many different choices, both, as a result of the Plan B off the bench, along with being qualitatively inferior (aside from, maybe, Jonas Hofmann) is just so completely different from his starters. Take a look at the fellows he introduced on towards Costa Rica: Youssoufa Moukoko, who turned 18 on the day the event began, Mario Gotze, whose profession has stalled since scoring the aim that gave Germany the 2014 World Cup, and Niclas Fullkrug, 29, who was profitable solely his second cap. It is a far cry from the times when Germany had confirmed center-forwards like Miroslav Klose or Mario Gomez.
The problem is the right way to climate the inevitable media storm that comes with dropping three out of your final 4 World Cup video games and the right way to cease this Spanish juggernaut.
If there is a silver lining, it is that Spain will look nothing like Japan. Their possession sport lends itself to being countered with urgent and transition — German bread-and-butter they did not get to make use of aginst Moriyasu’s low block. If it does flip right into a midfield battle of preserve away, Gundogan and Kimmich can actually maintain their very own towards Spain’s midfielders. And if it comes right down to physicality and set items, nicely, Germany has the sting there too.
So Flick can take solace in realizing there isn’t any everlasting harm to Germany’s World Cup hopes, just a few badly bruised egos. At the very least till Sunday once they sq. off towards Spain. Then we’ll discover out simply how a lot actuality bites.