Accustomed to playing the big roles on the international scene, Germany hopes to reach the heights again, after a chaotic last World Cup.
Unrecognizable, Germany approaches the world Cup on tiptoe and in the unusual outsider costume, with a first match against Japan on Wednesday (2 p.m. French time) to clear up his many doubts, symbolized by striker Thomas Müller.
“I won’t say that we are the favorites of the tournament, but there is not a team completely above the lot, like in 1994 with Brazil and Spain in 2010“, noted the former German center forward Oliver Bierhoff.
The manager of the German selection, however, has good memories of this status of second knife, when in 1996 Germany won the Euro in England, without being in the shoes of the favorite.
“However, we have a high quality team. It is important that we enter the tournament well and that we acquire confidence. If we start well, anything is possible with this team“Added the hero of Wembley, author of a double, including the golden goal, in the summer of 1996 in the final against the Czech Republic.
Far from the hustle and bustle of downtown Doha and its close surroundings, where most of the selections have established their quarters, Germany has chosen to isolate itself at the northern tip of Qatar.
A good hour’s drive from Doha is the Zulal Wellness Resort at Al Ruwais, and a few hundred meters away is the impressive fortress-like training ground of Al Shamal. Further north is the sea and the Persian Gulf.
A calm all in contrast to the base camp in Russia in the summer of 2018 in the south-west of Moscow, where Germany had only remained for the first round, eliminated to everyone’s surprise after three matches.
For the first time in its post-war history, Germany missed the quarter-finals of a major tournament twice in a row (World and Euro), a sign of a gradual decline and which also explains the caution German staff.
A declining yield
Regaining this confidence has been one of the key words within the Nationalmannschaft for several weeks, after two League of Nations matches against Hungary (1-0 defeat) and England (3-3) which highlighted the limits of an undefeated team so far under Hansi Flick, successor to Joachim Löw as coach since 2021.
Injured in the back and hip back for many weeks, Thomas Müller alone embodies these German doubts. Top scorer in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa with five goals, the Bavarian only resumed collective training a few days ago, after missing the Bayern Munich matches in October and November.
In selection, the performance of the fifth most capped German (118) has dropped in recent years as he passes his thirties (currently 33), far from his golden years 2010-2014.
His role as leader of the German group remains essential, however, he who is one of the last four players to survive the 2014 coronation in Brazil with the captain and still indisputable N.1 in goal Manuel Neuer, defender Matthias Ginter and the returning midfielder Mario Götze.
With his low playing time for almost eight weeks at the club, Thomas Müller saw his starting place against Japan greatly falter, but Leroy Sané’s knee injury and his last-minute package finally reopened the door for him. behind center forward Kai Havertz.
Alongside Müller, Hansi Flick will be able to count on the attacking armada of in-form players from Bayern Munich, in particular the young Jamal Musiala (19 years old). Enough to thwart pessimistic predictions?