National team: There is still a long way to go for Flick’s team

DThe word “world class” was not mentioned, but Hansi Flick’s praise was aimed at the same category. Joshua Kimmich and Leon Goretzka are in the (shared) sixth position “one of the best midfield duos there are currently”, he said on Sunday, “absolute professionals who have an enormous will to win” can also be seen at 2: 1 against Romania on Friday, “we can be happy and proud to have two such top players in our ranks”.

With sentences like these, the national coach once again certified what can no longer be overlooked: that the heart of FC Bayern is also responsible for the pulse of the national team. At the same time, after four games under the new boss, it is the biggest and most tangible change compared to his predecessor. And even if Joachim Löw can be credited with the fact that Goretzka has not yet gone into the European Championship with full strength, it was not the best idea to think the structure of the team from Toni Kroos and not from Kimmich.

The extra portion of will, energy and commitment is not only noticeable in an invigorating way for the German game, it also helps to win over the audience for this team again. It is not just the change at the top as such that drove away the “dark clouds” that Oliver Bierhoff spoke of last November, but also the way in which the newcomer tackles things. The “fresh breeze” that the fan club national team put into the picture in a notoriously artificial way is a real “wind of change” that Flick breathed into German football.

Unevenly distributed quality

As atmospheric as the evening in Hamburg was, you have to keep in mind: The sporting progress lagged behind the atmospheric, even if Flick did not say so. But how he spoke of increasing “togetherness” and “for one another” in all areas in order to generate even more emotion – that is a different tone than in his Bavarian time. This is what the national handball trainer sounds like, who knows that what is lacking in terms of athleticism among the world’s best has to be compensated for by other means. It is true that there is a lot of quality in this team, but it is sometimes quite unevenly distributed, which makes Flick’s national mission a lot more complicated than in Munich.

He cannot eliminate the problem areas of German football by the laying on of hands, in external defense Thilo Kehrer and Jonas Hofmann are solid, but ultimately improvised solutions, the center is, despite all the force that Niklas Süle and Antonio Rüdiger embody, also narrowly cast, and In the storm, it takes some imagination to see Timo Werner as the decision maker of the future.

If you follow Manuel Neuer, it should soon be golden again, with the World Cup title next year, Serge Gnabry also joined the captain’s goal on the Sunday before the game against North Macedonia this Monday (8.45 p.m. in the FAZ live ticker for World Cup qualification and RTL) – “because we have the quality” and because of the “tradition of the national team to always have the title as an ambition”. That, however, had been heard in one way or another before the last two tournaments. The result wasn’t really world class.

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