Four-time World Cup winners Germany followed their beaten opponents in the 2014 World Cup final, Argentina, by suffering a shock loss at the hands of Japan on Wednesday. Despite the abundance of talent in the German ranks, particularly in midfield and out wide, they lack potency in front of goal. The shortage of firepower in the striker position currently shows how Germany are all bark, no bite.
Die Mannschaft registered more than double the amount of efforts on goal than the Japanese, with 9 of their 26 shots being on target. A decent return. However, the issue is that the forward players are not clinical enough. This is emphasized by the fact that although Germany had 9 efforts on target, their goal came from the penalty spot, converted by Ilkay Gundogan.
Chelsea forward Kai Havertz performed particularly poorly, rarely getting himself into threatening positions, despite being deployed as the side’s primary ‘striker.’ The former Bayer Leverkusen prodigy scored the worst rating among all the German players to have started the game, via WhoScored.com, not getting off a single shot at goal or completing a dribble the entire game.
Arsenal legend Ian Wright was very critical of the Chelsea forward, claiming he ‘couldn’t believe’ some of the things Havertz was doing during the game.
During the analysis for a disallowed goal for ITV, Wright was visibly annoyed and frustrated with Havertz’s positioning. “Havertz, just stay where you are,” called Wright.
“The ball is coming across there. You don’t need to go! If he just waits, just stay there you’ll be able to slide in and get it.
“The thing is you could see how much close he was to the goal. I can’t believe this is happening at this level!”
Hansi Flick’s men now have to beat Spain on Sunday, who thrashed Costa Rica 7-0 later on Tuesday evening, to stand any chance of progressing beyond the group stages.
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However, Germany do not have the best record under the current circumstances, given that they were in a similar situation 4 years ago in Russia. Having lost their opening game against Mexico, Die Mannschaft then beat Sweden thanks to that infamous last-minute Toni Kroos free-kick. But the pressure ultimately got to the then-World Champions, who lost their final group game to South Korea, crashing out at the first hurdle.
Given Spain’s form, winning 8 of their last 11 games, Germany run a real risk of back-to-back World Cup group stage eliminations. Furthermore, the current group of players are young and need to gain some valuable experience and confidence in this tournament ahead of EURO 2024, where they will be hosts.
If Germany are to stand any chance of progressing, their attack needs to step up massively, as it remains the standout weakness in their squad. It’s likely that we are to see a change in the German frontman ahead of Sunday’s fixture, with Werder Bremen’s Niclas Füllkrug being the player many believe Hansi Flick will give the nod to. The 29-year-old has 10 goals and 2 assists in 14 Bundesliga appearances this term, showing he could be a useful option in this year’s tournament.