Monday March 20, 2023

Flick's restart after WC: humility instead of title aims

Published : 13 Mar 2023, 22:14

Updated : 13 Mar 2023, 22:19

  By Arne Richter, dpa
Germany's coach Hansi Flick attends a press conference for the German national soccer team ahead of Thursday's FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group E soccer match against Costa Rica. File Photo: Federico Gambarini/dpa.

Germany coach Hansi Flick is seeking a turnaround after a group stage exit at last year's World Cup in Qatar but won't name his team title contenders for next year's European championships on home ground.

Speaking in interviews in Monday's edition of Kicker sports magazine and daily Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ), Flick admitted to personal mistakes but also insisted that lessons must be learnt from off the field distractions such as the debate around the One Love armband.

Flick starts preparations for the Euros with friendlies against Peru on March and Belgium three days later but his keeping expectations in check.

"It this stage I am not naming the European title as the aim. There is no guarantee for it. We can only guarantee to do everything so that we enter the tournament prepared in the best way," Flick told Kicker.

"Of course we do sport to be successful. And I have high aims in general. But a little humility does us good now. First of all we must do our basic tasks."

Flick will nominate his first post-World Cup squad on Friday. He said he plans to experiment in the March and June friendlies before fine-tuning for the Euros starts from the September fixtures onwards.

He said he has told veteran Bayern Munich forward Thomas Müller he would not pick him for the two upcoming international breaks but hasn't closed the door for him to return at a later stage, and hinted that the same could apply to Manchester City midfielder Ilkay Gündogan.

Flick has not named any potential newcomers but it is clear that he will expect more from the generation around Joshua Kimmich (28), Leon Goretzka (28) and Antonio Rüdiger (30) while at the same time having high hopes in Kai Havertz (23) along with youngsters Jamal Musiala (20) and Florian Wirtz (19).

Looking at Chelsea forward Havertz, Flick said: "Kai is an outstanding footballer, very reflective and very mature in his personality. It is our job to help these players take the next step and take over responsibility in the national team."

Flick is aware that good results on the pitch are needed to get over the Qatar debacle and reconcile fans who have turned their back on the team for several reasons ranging from modest results and over-commercialisation to the human rights debate on hosts Qatar.

"The most important thing is that we play good football, passionate football. When the fan realises that we are giving our all for Germany and play with a lot of heart the mood can quickly change again," Flick said.

Flick admitted he only managed to explain the defensive scheme in a theoretical way for the World Cup and that this will now be part of "clear priorities" in the Euro 2024 build-up.

At the same time he said that football must be the priority again after the World Cup was overshadowed by political debates and the One Love armband - to be worn by some teams in support of diversity but then banned by the ruling body FIFA - which affected the team.

"There must never be so much pressure again - neither on individual players nor on a team," Flick told the SZ. "That was simply not good and I hope that we learn from this situation. All of us."

Former Germany striker and coach Rudi Völler could help in this respect as he has been appointed national team director in succession of Oliver Bierhoff and is to serve as a buffer for Flick in these and other areas.

"Rudi was a fixture in German football over the past decades. He has experience, he knows which levers to use," Flick told Kicker. "I enjoy the exchange with him, we are on the same wavelength."