Flick’s eleven learn the lesson
AWhen Emre Can hurriedly took off his training shirt next to the substitutes’ bench, it was clear: the German team was on red alert. 28 minutes had just been played, but because the national team was 2-0 behind against Belgium and had to be happy that they only conceded two goals, there was an acute need for action for Hansi Flick.
But that was not all. Even before Can could enter the square, Leon Goretzka sank onto it. He wasn’t the one who was supposed to be substituted, now Lukas Nmecha got an urgent order from the national coach. Goretzka signaled: He wanted to try again, but it was no use. Can also came for Florian Wirtz, Nmecha for Goretzka, who was supposed to give the all-clear later this Tuesday evening: He was confident for the top Bundesliga game of his FC Bayern against Borussia Dortmund on Saturday (6.30 p.m. in the FAZ live ticker for the Bundesliga and on Sky ) to be fit again. “My feeling is good. I twisted my ankle because I caught the ball on the toes. But it should be enough until Saturday.”
But at this point there was horror and turmoil in the Cologne stadium, the German team was a case of concern all around. But still: In the good hour that followed, things got much better again, before the break Niclas Füllkrug shortened the lead with a converted hand penalty (44th minute) after early goals from Yannick Carrasco (6th) and Lukaku (9th) for the trained by Domenico Tedesco and until then well adjusted Belgian team.
Hole in the center, exposed on the sides
And in the second half, Flick’s team tried everything against the now strangely lethargic Belgians and came close to equalizing a few times. But then a single well-played attack against the advanced German team was enough for the third goal, this time by Kevin De Bruyne (78th). With the 1: 3, the energy of the generally benevolent audience seemed to follow in addition to the tension, before Serge Gnabry provided another ignition (87th). But it stayed that way.
Despite the gasping after the break: Flick will not have imagined this test section on the way to the home European Championship 2024, which sporting director Rudi Völler missed due to kidney colic. The evening started like a nightmare from a German point of view. The team had just received a friendly welcome, cheers echoed from the ranks, and Goretzka played a promising ball to Gnabry.
But then the disaster took its course. The Belgians played a long ball from their own corner flag, after that it went very quickly, the ball came via Lukaku to De Bruyne, who saw Carrasco on the left and a lot of space, Marius Wolf had moved up the middle, the attempt Confronting Carrasco failed completely, the Belgian attacker knew what and where he wanted to go, inside, best shooting position – 0:1.
Only three minutes later, the Germans seemed to have the ball under control in the center, but that was deceptive, there was a lack of clarity and consistency, the beneficiary was again De Bruyne, who this time put Lukaku in the limelight – 0:2. And the Germans had to be glad that things didn’t get any worse.