DFB team: Doubts about Flick’s old companions – Sport
If the word bitter expression hadn’t already been invented, Matthias Ginter would have prompted it when he left the Al Bayt Stadium on Thursday evening: there was so much grief and displeasure written on his face. He made his way in silence, tactfully nobody asked him for comment.
Who could blame him for his mood? Ginter had arrived with the mortgage of two World Cup participations without playing time, and even on the third attempt he was threatened with the tragic supporting role of the forgotten. Thanks to Ginter, no one has been talking about the historic parade of the world champion who was only present – Bremen’s Günter Herrmann, silent partner in the 1990 World Cup triumph. He has finally made his first appearance at the biggest football festival on earth, but it was not obvious from his face that Hansi Flick did him a favor by coming on as a substitute in the 93rd minute of the third and final group game against Costa Rica.
In the context of the German failure and his private World Cup history, Ginter had to see the maneuver as a macabre joke. At the next epochal meeting of nations, in 2026 in North America, he would be 32 years old. If Christian Streich is still training him, nothing should stand in the way of his fourth World Cup. But maybe Ginter also secretly resigned from the national team in Qatar. Couldn’t blame him.
Retirement from the national team? That sounds very different with Müller later in the evening
There won’t be a comprehensive generation change in the national team in the near future. Apart from Ginter, there were only three Rio world champions in the German squad in Qatar. Mario Götze, 30, didn’t get the opportunities he had hoped for and expected in Qatar, but his big comeback may yet come. In the case of Manuel Neuer, 36, and Thomas Müller, 33, on the other hand, the question of age is as natural as it is currently justified. While Neuer responded to rude questions at the Al Bayt Stadium that resignation was out of the question (“As long as I’m invited and show my performance, I can rule that out”), the case with his Munich teammate was different.
The reporters in the stadium reported that Müller had left the service after speaking on television and uttering a meaningful sentence: “I did it for love.” When Müller appeared in person in front of the media a while later, it sounded completely different again. He “let his emotions run free and described what’s going on inside me,” he put it into perspective. The wording could be understood as a retreat from retreat. As far as his future is concerned, he would give himself a few days and also talk to his wife Lisa and the national coach, the Munich resident said.
Before Hansi Flick comes up with the idea of persuading his esteemed Müller to stay, maybe he should go into isolation too. Loyalty is honorable, but Flick’s loyalty in Qatar was a misunderstanding and a betrayal of his own plans. Not only in Germany, but also in the rest of the galaxy, nobody understood why number 13 was on the starting list again instead of Niclas Füllkrug or Kai Havertz.
As a centre-forward, Müller had his potential spark moment, but when he missed the lonely free-standing header in the ninth minute, it was just a telltale moment: On a night when the Germans should have scored eight goals, Flick chose the central striker who – the Newspapers have been reporting about it for a long time – no longer applies. With as many early goals as possible, Flick wanted to put “pressure” on the Spaniards in the parallel game. The necessary pressure on the direct opponent Costa Rica only came when Füllkrug and Havertz played and Müller stopped playing.
In football there is no reason to exclude players because they are statistically approaching middle age and parts of the audience might want to see someone else. Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini demonstrated the virtue of experience and maturity when they became European champions a year ago in footballing old age. The 39-year-old Portuguese Pepe still looks as grim as his ten-year-old version at this World Cup.
On the other hand, one should not leave players with monumental merits, such as the players mentioned, alone in deciding on the right farewell. The point in time at which the reporters labeled Müller as “controversial” had already been reached at the World Cup in Qatar. Manuel Neuer also experienced moments, not only against Costa Rica, in which the uniqueness of his goalkeeping genius could be questioned. Would Neuer still come to the DFB team if Hansi Flick no longer unconditionally declared him number one, but instead sent him into a competition with the eternal deputies? In Qatar, the unconditional trust in the old companions brought no luck to the national coach.