DOHA, Qatar — There is a Nineteen Eighties Richard Pryor film known as “The Toy,” through which Jackie Gleason’s character delivers a speech to his son in regards to the distinction between “fact” and “actuality.” 4 a long time later, Germany boss Hansi Flick could need to do the identical factor.
The “fact” of their 2-1 defeat by the hands of Japan is that they dominated possession (74% to 26%), put collectively greater than 2.4 anticipated targets (plus a transformed penalty), pressured a pair nice saves from Japan keeper Shuichi Gonda, hit the woodwork twice and had their ending been higher, they’d have been residence free earlier than Japan’s rousing second-half comeback.
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The “actuality” is slightly totally different. For all of the dominance of the primary half, Germany solely took the lead as a result of Gonda gifted them a penalty. All these pictures — Germany had 26, Japan 11 — that add as much as a gaudy anticipated targets? Nicely, 10 of them have been from exterior the world, which is slightly sub-optimal. They have been undone by Japan’s athleticism, stamina, energy and self-belief, precisely these qualities which, traditionally, have been the key to Germany’s success.
And there is extra actuality. Germany’s central attacking gamers, Kai Havertz and Thomas Muller, mustered a single try on objective between them (and even that one was off beam). Flick had no solutions for Japan boss Hajime Moriyasu’s second-half substitutions and alter of techniques; in consequence, that is the second straight World Cup through which Germany misplaced their opening recreation.
Then there’s the harshest actuality of all. Subsequent up for Germany is Spain, who crushed Costa Rica 7-0. If Germany drop factors in Sunday’s recreation, they now not management their very own future and will exit of their second straight World Cup on the group stage. It is a prospect as unthinkable as Oktoberfest with non-alcoholic beer and Tofu Bratwurst.
The problem for Flick is making sense of what went fallacious in opposition to Japan. He knew his entrance line was about sq. pegs in spherical holes, however he felt — maybe understandably — that he needed to put his finest guys on the market. The consequence was a puzzle the place all of the items did not match collectively.
Havertz at center-forward mirrors how he performs together with his membership, Chelsea. Regardless of being a supremely expert participant who suffers greater than he ought to in tight areas (and Japan did pack the penalty space), Havertz appears to be like like he is nonetheless studying the place. That is how he finally ends up with video games have been his contribution is sort of impalpable, like this one.
The 33-year-old model of Thomas Muller, lined up behind him, did little apart from clog area — area his teammate, the younger and electrical Jamal Musiala, might have used. It is in all probability why the younger Bayern star ended up exploring the suitable flank and getting in Serge Gnabry’s manner as a substitute. With a number of time and work, you may in all probability make this entrance 4 match collectively in a manner that is smart, capitalizing on the wealth of creativity supplied by Ilkay Gundogan and Joshua Kimmich in midfield. Flick does not have that luxurious; he has two extra video games to get it proper and qualify for the spherical of 16.
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Nonetheless, Flick most certainly does not have many different choices, both, as a result of the Plan B off the bench, along with being qualitatively inferior (apart from, maybe, Jonas Hofmann) is just so totally different from his starters. Take a look at the blokes he introduced on in opposition to Costa Rica: Youssoufa Moukoko, who turned 18 on the day the match began, Mario Gotze, whose profession has stalled since scoring the objective that gave Germany the 2014 World Cup, and Niclas Fullkrug, 29, who was successful solely his second cap. It is a far cry from the times when Germany had confirmed center-forwards like Miroslav Klose or Mario Gomez.
The problem is tips on how to climate the inevitable media storm that comes with dropping three out of your final 4 World Cup video games and tips on how to cease this Spanish juggernaut.
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If there is a silver lining, it is that Spain will look nothing like Japan. Their possession recreation lends itself to being countered with urgent and transition — German bread-and-butter they did not get to make use of aginst Moriyasu’s low block. If it does flip right into a midfield battle of preserve away, Gundogan and Kimmich can definitely maintain their very own in opposition to Spain’s midfielders. And if it comes right down to physicality and set items, nicely, Germany has the sting there too.
So Flick can take solace in understanding there isn’t any everlasting injury to Germany’s World Cup hopes, just a few badly bruised egos. At the very least till Sunday once they sq. off in opposition to Spain. Then we’ll discover out simply how a lot actuality bites.