Rediscovering their form under Flick

Words by Nick Bidwell

Overview

Germany, the first European country to punch their ticket for Qatar 2022, were victorious in nine of their ten qualifiers, though they did suffer the embarrassment of losing 2-1 at home to North Macedonia in March 2021. The unexpected loss in Duisburg was only the Nationalmannschaft’s third-ever defeat in a World Cup qualifier and the first since 2001 (when losing 5-1 in Munich to England).

After the setbacks of the latter part of Joachim Low’s long reign as Bundestrainer – notably the dismal exits from World Cup 2018 and Euro 2020 – Hansi Flick has successfully righted the ship, reinstalling a winning mentality, collective togetherness and more attacking slickness.

To complement the experienced players already at Flick’s disposal, a crop of talented youngsters have also broken through in the form of Karim Adeyemi, Nico Schlotterbeck, Jamal Musiala and – injury permitting – Florian Wirtz.

Tactics

As was his wont during his fruitful spell at Bayern, Flick swears by a 4-2-3-1 formation, a system in which his players – especially those in attack – have the freedom to use their initiative and rotate positionally. In possession, the template changes to a 3-2-5 or even a 3-1-6.

Star man
Thomas Muller
As hungry to contribute as ever. A fine attacking-third operative, full of guile and Johnny-on-the-spot opportunism.

Coach
Hansi Flick

An astute, rational team-builder with a bold, pro-active approach and excellent man-management skills.

Talking points

Who would be the best choice as back-line director of operations?
Antonio Rudiger appears to be the ideal candidate, a stopper just born to inspire with his ferocious will-to-win, muscular physicality and limitless energy. Another possibility would be Niklas Sule, who’d do the job in a more restrained way.

In which position do Germany have the most strength in depth?
Undoubtedly the number ten slot, where the likes of Thomas Muller, Marco Reus, Ilkay Gundogan and Kai Havertz all are made of the right stuff. Luckily for Flick, each of these players are versatile and able to slot into alternative roles.

How highly does Flick rate Chelsea flop Timo Werner?
Ever since taking over as head coach in August 2021, Hansi Flick has steadfastly stood by Werner and probably will continue to do so. There is no German Lewandowski and, in any case, Flick loves Werner’s pace and directness.