‘Too much drama in buildup’: Germany spreads blame for World Cup loss | World Cup 2022

The result was surprising, but the pain was familiar. As Germany digested Wednesday’s shock 2-1 loss to Japan, many fans and commentators recalled the country’s World Cup opener four years ago, when the world champions of at the time had lost their opening game against Mexico. “It looks like Russia have recharged,” a supporter told broadcaster ARD as they left the stadium.

Now, as then, there were those who blamed events off the pitch for messing with the heads of German players. In 2018, it was the controversy around the two internationals of Turkish descent, Mesut Özil and Ilkay Gündogan, who had their picture taken with the strong man of the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, approaching the tournament. .

This time it was fury around Fifa’s threat to sanction the OneLove captain’s armband, which the German football association backed down on but its players commented on while covering their mouths in the photo of the team before kick-off.

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“There was too much drama in the build-up, too many issues that were more important than football, a bit like four years ago,” never-shy international Lothar Matthäus told tabloid Bild. “That sort of thing disrupts your concentration, it distracts you – and therefore means you may miss crucial 5 or 10 percent.”

Germany challenge Fifa in their first World Cup game – video

The sobering result was swallowed up by columnists who had found the World Cup debate dominated by judgmental posturing. “The German defeat against an average opponent was like a cold shower for the kind of German smugness that has leaked from every pore of our media in recent weeks,” the conservative Die Welt newspaper wrote.

Berlin tabloid BZ echoed the same sentiment on its front page, with one image showing the players covering their mouths and the next a group of fans covering their eyes: “You will…we will…” he read.

On German television, former international Thomas Hitzlsperger was not convinced. Blaming debates off the pitch was “too easy”, he said. “They [the players] didn’t take it in the game, they played too well for that in the first 60 minutes.

Most of the sport-focused criticism has focused on German coach Hansi Flick, who has won three of the last 10 games and whose substitutions – or lack thereof – have puzzled several commentators.

“Flick first removed the excellent Ilkay Gündogan, then he replaced the young genius Jamal Musiala”, writes Der Spiegel. “And from one minute to the next, the flow, the purpose, the confidence was gone. It’s easy to say the coach brought about his own defeat, but in this case it’s true.

If there had been any cautious hope in the prospects of this German side, it was because their spine had shown under the spell of Flick at Bayern Munich two years ago that they could beat Europe’s best to win the Champions League. Some commentators were even more perplexed by the manager’s starting line-up, which included the relatively inexperienced Nico Schlotterbeck in central defense and left Bayern midfield engine Leon Goretzka on the bench.

Die Zeit remembered Germany at their home World Cup in 2006 as “a mix of potential future stars and a B team”. “Meanwhile, the Champions League winners have been left on the bench,” said the newspaper, which asked why Flick had revamped its attack but was sticking to a defense that had started to look unhappy in the premiere. half time. “You can call it experimental. Or just randomly.

Some thought Germany’s lack of responses on the pitch oddly reflected their half-hearted political gestures off the pitch. “The Germans could have put a sign – but they should have risked something for that,” said the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, which was unconvinced by the team’s statement before kick-off. “His helpless gesture only shows that they politely shut up when it really matters.

“Their belief that they were back to world class was the other deception of the Germans,” the newspaper added wryly.

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