Germany face 'turning point' in Japan and France friendlies

football08 September 2023 04:57| © AFP
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Hansi Flick © Getty Images

Hansi Flick's attempts to get his flailing Germany team back on track face a tough double test in the next week, with just nine months to go before they host Euro 2024.

Germany face Japan on Saturday, one of the teams that beat them on the way to a group stage exit at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

Then, on Tuesday, Germany take on France, who were finalists in Qatar and world champions back in 2018.

Even though the two games are friendlies, Flick needs to turn around current dire form with his job on the line.

Failures in the past two World Cups and Euro 2021, have eroded Germany's "tournament team" reputation.

With his side already qualified for Euro 2024 as hosts, Flick has used friendlies to try line-ups and formations.

The experimentation has not worked.

Since Qatar, Germany have won just one of five matches – against Peru.

At home they lost to Belgium, drew with Ukraine and suffered a first-ever loss to Colombia. Germany also lost to Poland in Warsaw.

Flick said when he announced his squad that the coming matches were a "turning point".

"From now on we will play our core team," he said.

The crisis could deepen with the release on Friday of Amazon Prime's 'All or Nothing', a German FA-commissioned documentary on the team's failed World Cup campaign.


The film reportedly shows infighting, concerns about wearing the 'One Love' captain's armband amid a Fifa ban and Flick adopting a siege mentality, telling the players "no-one in Germany trusts us to do anything" at the tournament.

The Frankfurter Rundschau newspaper's review called the documentary an "oppressive story of failure", saying it "provides depressing insights into the inner workings of an elite football team on the path to self-destruction."

Injuries have added to Flick's woes.

Thursday's withdrawal of star midfielder Jamal Musiala, along with the absence of striker Niclas Fuellkrug, prompted the return of veteran Thomas Mueller for the first time since Qatar.

A further complication for Flick is that the man who replaced him as Bayern manager, Julian Nagelsmann, has been jobless since March.

Despite a surprise sacking at Bayern, Nagelsmann, still just 36, remains highly regarded in Germany.

Fortunately for Flick, the German football federation has historically been reluctant to part ways with coaches.

Flick's predecessor Joachim Loew was given three years after Germany's disastrous exit at the 2018 World Cup, despite a string of poor results including a 6-0 hammering by Spain seven months ahead of Euro 2021.


On Thursday, Germany midfielder Julian Brandt told a press conference that Flick had "taken a beating in recent months", saying the coach "was doing a sensational job".

"He communicates clearly and knows exactly what he wants".

The midfielder, who did not make it off the bench in Qatar but has grown into a leadership role at club side Borussia Dortmund, added "of course from the outside, what's most important is what happens on Saturday and Tuesday."

Kai Havertz, of Arsenal, said the two friendlies presented the perfect chance to "put the long negative period behind us."

Havertz, who has performed consistently for Germany despite criticisms at club level, said the side "viewed the matches not as friendlies but very, very seriously."

"We will do everything we can so that the fans and the whole country can be happy and proud of us again."