After their shocking 2-1 loss to Japan in their Group E opener, Germany will be facing a second straight World Cup first-round exit when they play Spain on Sunday. Coach Hansi Flick will be working extra hard to get his team back up and running.
The four-time winners lost in the first round of the 2018 competition, which was their quickest tournament exit in more than 80 years. In Qatar, they now risk a rematch of that situation.
After dominating the first half and leading 1-0, Germany lost its composure after the break, giving Japan two goals late in the match thanks to a series of individual errors, including one from center back Niklas Suele for the second.
Germany’s backline has long been a source of concern, and recent results emphasize the need for quick improvement. While the majority of the discussion previous to their first game had concentrated on whether Flick would employ a natural centre forward like Niclas Fuellkrug from the outset.
Germany have given up six goals in their last four international contests, but they now need to find a means to stop Spain after they defeated Costa Rica by seven goals in the group stage.
However, in addition to dealing with their first-ever defeat to Japan, Germany’s players are also facing criticism at home for how they handled the controversy around the diversity armband after FIFA threatened to penalize them if they wore it.
Despite having only 48 hours until their game, Germany reneged on their agreement to wear it. On the other hand, Spain is not under the same pressure as its European peers.
Spain started the tournament with less pressure on them than in previous years, thanks to coach Luis Enrique, and they have already broken records.
After scoring in their 7-0 victory over Costa Rica, Barcelona’s Gavi, 18, became the nation’s youngest World Cup player and the youngest scorer since Brazilian legend Pele in 1958.
Although they weren’t one of the pre-tournament favorites that included included Brazil, Argentina, and France, their victory over Costa Rica will have whetted their hunger for more.
Luis Enrique has committed to make adjustments to the starting lineup.
We won’t use the same starting lineup again, he assured. “I don’t know who is going to play,” he stated. “We won’t take 11 players for seven games.” I’ll definitely change.