In the 69th minute, cheers erupted in the Leipzig Arena. It could not be determined without a doubt whether it was intended for Timo Werner. If so, it was to be understood as an encouraging greeting, after all, the attacker had been involved in lawn ball sports in the arena quite inconspicuously before national coach Hansi Flick asked him to be substituted along with Ilkay Gündogan.
Maybe it was also the hope that Kai Havertz and Jamal Musiala would now do better than their colleagues in the German national jersey, it was 0-1 against Hungary on Friday evening after Adam Szalai scored in the 17th minute. But all efforts were in vain in the end. The result was also valid after 90 minutes and deservedly so.
For Flick it meant the first defeat in his 13th game as national coach. For 45 minutes, what his team showed in Leipzig was more like hibernation than the Winter World Cup. After the break, efficiency was a German topic again, nothing countable could be got from half a dozen opportunities, although there weren't any crystal clear opportunities either. In any case, that couldn't be argued away, higher demands at the World Cup are not an issue for Flick and his team, and the increase after the break didn't change that.
An evening to forget
On Monday, the Nations League round at Wembley Stadium will end against England (8.45 p.m. in FAZ live ticker for the Nations League and at RTL). It is also the last important test before the World Cup, the game against Oman in the course of the short training camp there will hardly serve to gain knowledge. In any case, the targeted first place in the Nations League group is already a thing of the past – Hungary is ahead by four points – and with it participation in the Final Four in June next year. Flick and national team director Oliver Bierhoff had given it as a valuable goal, since the German team is not playing any qualifying games for the 2024 home European Championship. In short, from a German perspective, it was an evening to forget in Leipzig.
He started with a jump start. Werner's zest for action had him sprinting off the Hungarian kick-off before the ball was released. He had to go into reverse again. After that the Germans searched in vain for a clear path, and Werner was nowhere to be seen for a long time. Gündogan collected ball contacts in the center, but that did not lead the Germans into the dangerous areas. As in the 1-1 draw in Budapest, the Hungarians proved to be well-rehearsed shifting and blocking artists – but this should not be misunderstood as destructive. Finally they searched for their own way to the gate.
How they then found him at 0:1 was worth seeing, but also unpleasantly cheap from a German point of view. Szalai steered a short kicked corner kick in the direction of the far corner, Marc-André ter Stegen couldn't do anything, but how half-heartedly Müller accompanied Szalai could not have been written like that on any tactics board. The Hungarian captain, who is also well known from the Bundesliga, had announced his retirement from the national team a few days earlier, and at least his penultimate game will be fondly remembered.