DOHA, Qatar — There is a Nineteen Eighties Richard Pryor film referred to as “The Toy,” wherein Jackie Gleason’s character delivers a speech to his son concerning the distinction between “fact” and “actuality.” 4 many years later, Germany boss Hansi Flick would possibly need to do the identical factor.
The “fact” 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 few nice saves from Japan keeper Shuichi Gonda, hit the woodwork twice and, had their ending been higher, they’d have been dwelling free earlier than Japan’s rousing second-half comeback.
– Response: Germany shocked by Japan in newest World Cup shocker
The “actuality” is quite completely different. For all of the dominance of the primary half, Germany took the lead solely as a result of Gonda gifted them a penalty. All these photographs — Germany had 26, Japan 11 — that add as much as a gaudy anticipated objectives complete? Properly, 10 of them had been from outdoors the world, which is quite suboptimal. Germany 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 purpose between them (and even that one was off beam). Flick had no solutions for Japan boss Hajime Moriyasu’s second-half substitutions and alter of techniques; because of this, that is the second straight World Cup wherein Germany misplaced their opening recreation.
Then there’s the harshest actuality of all. Subsequent up for Germany are Spain, who crushed Costa Rica 7-0. If Germany drop factors in Sunday’s recreation, they 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 nonalcoholic beer and tofu bratwurst.
The problem for Flick is making sense of what went improper in opposition to Japan. He knew his entrance line was about sq. pegs in spherical holes, however he felt — maybe understandably — that he needed to put his greatest guys on the market. The outcome was a puzzle the place all of the items did not match collectively.
Havertz at centre-forward mirrors how he performs together 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 the place 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 in all probability why the younger Bayern star ended up exploring the best flank and getting in Serge Gnabry’s means as a substitute. With a whole lot of time and work, you may in all probability make this entrance 4 match collectively in a means that is smart, capitalizing on the wealth of creativity offered by Ilkay Gundogan and Joshua Kimmich in midfield. Flick would not have that luxurious; he has two extra video games to get it proper and qualify for the spherical of 16.
– Stream on ESPN+: LaLiga, Bundesliga and extra (U.S.)
Nonetheless, Flick more than likely would 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 in opposition to Costa Rica: Youssoufa Moukoko, who turned 18 on the day the match began, Mario Gotze, whose profession has stalled since scoring the purpose that gave Germany the 2014 World Cup, and Niclas Fullkrug, 29, who was successful solely his second cap. It is a far cry from the times when Germany had confirmed centre-forwards like Miroslav Klose or Mario Gomez.
The problem is the way to climate the inevitable media storm that comes with shedding three out of your previous 4 World Cup video games and the way to cease this Spanish juggernaut.
– World Cup fixtures and options
If there is a silver lining, it is that Spain will look nothing like Japan. Their possession recreation lends itself to being countered with urgent and transition — German bread-and-butter they did not get to make use of in opposition to Moriyasu’s low block. If it does flip right into a midfield battle of keep-away, Gundogan and Kimmich can actually maintain their very own in opposition to Spain’s midfielders. And if it comes all the way down to physicality and set items, properly, Germany have the sting there, too.
So Flick can take solace in understanding there is no everlasting injury to Germany’s World Cup hopes, just a few badly bruised egos. At the very least till Sunday, after they sq. off in opposition to Spain. Then we’ll discover out simply how a lot actuality bites.