AL KHOR, Qatar (AP) – Early exits following the World Cup German coach Hansi Flick wants to get back to basics.
The four-time champions were once again knocked out of the group stage, four years after their embarrassing performance as defending champions in Russia.
Something has to change, Flick said after a 4-2 win over Costa Rica on Thursday was still not enough to secure a place in the round of 16.
“I think for the future of German football we need to do things differently in training,” said Flick, who took over as coach after the European Championship last year. “For years we have talked about new goalkeepers and wingers, but Germany have always been able to defend well. We need the basics.
“For the future, for the next 10 years, it is very important to focus on the new generation of players.”
It was only eight years ago that Germany won their fourth World Cup title, beating an Argentinian side led by Lionel Messi in their prime in the final at the Maracana Stadium. With this victory, Germany became the only European team to win a World Cup in North or South America.
In Qatar, it was a first loss against Japan that set the stage for a disappointing finish this time around. Germany were beaten 2-1 in this match last week, and followed that up with a 1-1 draw against Spain.
It gave the Germans a chance in their final game at Al Bayt Stadium, and for a few minutes in the simulcast final group matches on Thursday, that was enough. At half-time, for example, Germany beat Costa Rica and Japan lost to Spain – results that would have put the Germans in the round of 16.
It was Japan’s 2-1 victory over the Spaniards it basically cost the Germans a chance to play at least one more game in Qatar.
Flick cited Spain as an example for his country to follow.
“Spain are very good in defence,” he said, although the 2010 World Cup champions ultimately lost to Japan at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha. “He focuses on training young players. They know tactics well.
It all started so well for Germany on Thursday with Serge Gnabry scoring a 10th-minute header and Spain taking an early lead against Japan.
Both games were turned upside down in the second half.
Yeltsin Tejeda equalized the score in the 58th minute and Juan Vargas netted another in the 70th, putting Costa Rica ahead 2-1 and suddenly on target to advance.
“There were a lot of individual errors and those are things that make me very angry,” Flick said.
But German substitute Kai Havertz made it 2-2 in the 73rd minute and then restored Germany’s lead in the 85th minute. Another substitute, Niclas Füllkrug, added the fourth.
Costa Rica had lost their opening match against Spain 7-0. The team then put on a much better performance and beat Japan 1-0.
“We are not what we saw in our first game,” Costa Rica coach Luis Fernando Suarez said. “We had to go back to what allowed us to qualify for the World Cup.”
The match was also notable as French referee Stéphanie Frappart became the first woman to referee a men’s World Cup match.
Manuel Neuer played his 19th World Cup game to set a record for a goalkeeper – overtaking German great Sepp Maier and Brazilian goalkeeper Cláudio Taffarel.
Matthias Ginter was taking part in his third World Cup, but before the match against Costa Rica he had not yet played a single minute at any of these tournaments. Everything changed when he came on in the 89th minute.
James Robson is on https://twitter.com/jamesalanrobson
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