Dhe 2-1 against Romania on Friday evening was the fourth game under Hansi Flick, and in the end the new national coach won the fourth game thanks to a goal from Thomas Müller. But where the German national team will actually be in autumn 2021 cannot be said despite the initial successes.
There are several reasons for this, and one of them is largely hidden in the joy of the new national coach and the good mood in and around the team: that the real world leaders, to which the four-time world champion from yesterday and the day before yesterday at the 2022 World Cup, are only catching up again wants to literally play in a different league these days. In one to which the Germans have no access because they have been too bad for years, to be precise: to the final of the League of Nations, which is much maligned in this country.
You shouldn’t be fooled by victories over Romania, Iceland, Armenia and Liechtenstein 13 months before the World Cup. If the world champion (France) competes with the current number one in the world rankings (Belgium) these days, and the newly crowned European champion (Italy) has to admit defeat to the EM semifinal participant (Spain) in the other Nations League semifinals, the Germans only perform compulsory tasks against the second and third football class. While the top international challenges each other and thus advance each other in high-class duels, the German success against Romania is only a victory against the number 44 in the world of football, nothing more and nothing less.
And on this Monday (8.45 p.m. in the FAZ live ticker on the national team and on RTL), when the DFB selection in Skopje can qualify ahead of time for the 2022 World Cup, number 74 is waiting there with North Macedonia. Progress is difficult. But in view of the less challenging program, Flick has no choice but to keep a clear eye on his goal: “We want to get back to where we were once: to the top of the world, to the top of the world.”
Like polls before the election
In truth, however, any attempts to transfer Flick’s initial successes to the future are hardly worth more than opinion polls a year before the election. The national team has strayed too far from the world’s elite in recent years for the highest demands, which were based on a strong foundation between 2006 and 2018, to be simply extended into the future after the crash.
Even if many in German football do not want to admit that, the cut was so deep – after the botched World Cup 2018, the national team did not even qualify for the 2019 and 2021 Nations League finals – that the consequences will be felt for even longer. In view of the real international football conditions, it is no small matter that Germany only managed to win a single win in a total of seven games in its two finals at the 2018 World Cup and the 2021 European Championship. Flick immediately did a lot better than his predecessor, but despite all his efforts: Renewal is not available overnight for the Löw heir.