Sun | Jan 29, 2023

FLOW Qatar Spotlight | Failing German engineering, Asian enterprise and African ingenuity

Published:Thursday | December 1, 2022 | 6:06 PMDaniel WheelerPaul-Andre WalkerOrane Buchanan
Germany's players leave the pitch after the World Cup group E football match against Costa Rica at the Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor, Qatar today.
Morocco's Youssef En-Nesyri (left) celebrates with teammate Sofiane Boufal after scoring his side's second goal during the World Cup group F football match against Canada at the Al Thumama Stadium in Doha , Qatar today.
Japan players celebrate after defeating Spain 2-1 in a World Cup group E football match at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha, Qatar today.
Belgium's Romelu Lukaku reacts after missing a chance to score during the World Cup group F football match against Croatia at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Al Rayyan, Qatar, today
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Das Reboot 2.0?

Daniel Wheeler

Hansi Flick will have a lot to answer for but Germany have been too complacent since winning it all in 2014. His contract lasts through to the next Euros but does he make it there? After their Euro 2000 exit, Germany began the process known as Das Reboot which led to that 2014 title run. Two successive World Cup tournaments out at the group stage? A Das Reboot 2.0 may be necessary.

Graveyard of the expected

Paul-Andre Walker

I can’t say I am surprised. You get a sense from the first game, which ‘big’ teams are not quite ready. And there was a time when these big teams could not be at their best and could use their pedigree to find ways of getting through the group stages before turning up the throttle. That is not true in 2022, and perhaps hasn’t been true for a lot longer than the footballing kingpins want to admit.

Belgium and Germany are out and I’m sure their performances will be analysed to death. I won’t do that.

Rather, I would like to look at the performances of the ‘minnows’. I put those in quotation marks because the term doesn’t apply to anybody at this World Cup. Japan, disciplined at the back but full of belief on the rare occasions they do go forward. Morocco, silky smooth attackers and no walkovers without the ball. It may be a surprise to many that the two topped groups with Croatia, Belgium, Spain, and Germany. For me, that surpise is pleasant. I’ve been waiting for these minnows to make world football truly global. Now to see if Ghana and by way of a miracle, Cameroon, can make it four African teams in the round of 16.

Lukaku and the Golden flops

Orane Buchanan

Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard, Dries Mertens, Leandro Trossard, and Romelu Lukaku should be names that drive fear into opponents. As 2018 third-place finishers, Belgium, sporting many of the same names were a shoo-in for at least the round of 16. Or so I thought. Boy, was I in for a shocker. The team seemed disjointed from the first whistle to the last and while there was some improvement against beaten finalists, Croatia, they rightly bowed out at the group stage.

The failure of Belgium’s golden generation may very well be placed at the feet of Lukaku, who was wasteful against Croatia. Now jobless coach Roberto Martinez may shoulder some of that blame. Or maybe the blame lies with a tired-looking Kevin De Bruyne. Still, there is also the misfiring (maybe a spent force) Eden Hazard. Whatever the answers, Belgium needs a reset. Maybe ‘another’ golden generation.