Fri | Feb 3, 2023

Back to basics for German coach after another early exit

Published:Friday | December 2, 2022 | 12:06 AM
Germany’s head coach Hansi Flick.
Germany’s head coach Hansi Flick.
Germany’s Thomas Mueller reacts after the World Cup Group E match between Costa Rica and Germany at the Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor , Qatar yesterday.
Germany’s Thomas Mueller reacts after the World Cup Group E match between Costa Rica and Germany at the Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor , Qatar yesterday.
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AL KHOR, Qatar (AP):

Back-to-back early exits at the World Cup have Germany coach Hansi Flick wanting to go back to basics.

The four-time champions were again eliminated from the group stage, four years after their embarrassing display as defending champions in Russia.

Something has to change, Flick said after a 4-2 victory over Costa Rica on Thursday that still wasn’t enough to secure a spot in the round of 16.

“I believe for the future of German football, we need to do things differently in training,” said Flick, who took over as coach after last year’s European Championship. “For years we are talking about new goalkeepers and wingbacks, but Germany was always able to defend well. We need the basics.

“For the future, for the next 10 years, it is very important to focus on the new generation of players.”

It was only eight years ago that Germany won its fourth World Cup title, beating an Argentina team led by Lionel Messi in his prime in the final at the Maracana Stadium. With that victory, Germany became the only European team to win a World Cup in either North or South America.

DISAPPOINTING FINISH

In Qatar, it was an opening loss to Japan that set the stage for the disappointing finish this time. Germany were beaten 2-1 in that match last week and followed it with a 1-1 draw against Spain.

That gave the Germans a chance in their last match at Al Bayt Stadium, and for a few minutes during the simultaneous final group matches yesterday, it was enough. At halftime, for example, Germany were beating Costa Rica and Japan were losing to Spain – results that would have put the Germans into the round of 16.

It was Japan’s 2-1 victory over the Spaniards that, essentially, cost the Germans a chance to play at least one more match in Qatar.

Flick cited Spain as an example for his country to follow.

“Spain are very good in defence,” he said, even though the 2010 World Cup champions ultimately lost to Japan at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha. “They focus on training young players. They know the tactics well.”

It all started so well for Germany with Serge Gnabry scoring a 10th-minute header and Spain taking an early lead against Japan.

Both matches were turned upside down in the second half.

Yeltsin Tejeda evened the score in the 58th minute, and Juan Vargas scrambled another in the 70th, putting Costa Rica ahead 2-1 and all of a sudden on target to advance.

“There were a lot of individual mistakes, and these are things that make me very angry,” Flick said.

But Germany substitute, Kai Havertz, made it 2-2 in the 73rd minute and then restored Germany’s lead in the 85th. Another substitute, Niclas Füllkrug, added the fourth.