Dhe national coach was the only German representative on the podium at the press conference in Doha’s media center. Next to Hansi Flick was only one official from the International Football Association (FIFA), who led through the question and answer session. The left side next to the national coach unexpectedly offered as much space as the German defense in the 1:2 in the opening game against Japan.
Actually, a German player should have filled this space in Doha, that’s even a requirement of FIFA. But the national coach decided to ignore rule 44 of the tournament regulations, according to which a player should appear at the final press conference. As well as an impending fine. The Spaniards, who were in front of the Germans with their media appearance in Doha, behaved like all teams behave at this World Cup: They started with a full squad, with coach Luis Enrique and the Leipzig professional Dani Olmo.
The fact that the Germans did not cut a good figure on the international media stage on the eve of the World Cup game against Spain (8:00 p.m. CET in the FAZ live ticker for the soccer World Cup, on ZDF and on MagentaTV), which may already be decisive for them, did not seem to the national coach disturb. On the contrary. Flick was disappointed with FIFA instead, although the DFB had disregarded the usual customs. To his incomprehension, the international association, with which the DFB is already at odds with this World Cup, apparently did not respond to the DFB’s request to move the press conference to the German quarters in the north of the country.
From the DFB logic it followed: Flick drove alone from the district, which was far from the shot, to the capital. “We don’t want to expect any player to drive that long. We’ve been in the car for almost three hours with an important game ahead of us. All players are important, from number one to number 26. They should prepare for training in this important phase,” said the national coach in explanation. And added to the address of FIFA: “We are already disappointed. We have a really good media center, that would certainly have been possible. We have to accept that, like so many things.”
At least that much seems certain before the duel with Spain this Sunday: Germany and the World Cup in Qatar will remain a complicated relationship, probably without a happy ending. The national coach gave an evasive answer to the key sporting question that came up at the international press conference, whether Germany was still one of the top favourites. “The game on Sunday will show that,” said Flick. “We’re looking forward to this game.”
The national coach didn’t say anything specific about the team’s line-up before the second group game, in which a draw may not even be enough for his team to be able to hope for a place in the knockout stages in the last game against Costa Rica. Flick only said this much about the difficult starting position after the defeat against Japan and his own attitude towards it: “We will see a team that knows what is at stake. And who is willing to do everything to ensure that we leave the door to the round of 16 open.”
His colleague Enrique spoke of the four-time world champion with great respect. “At a World Cup you look at how many stars are on a jersey,” said the Spanish national coach. “If a team is ready to change their dynamic at this World Cup, it’s Germany. The German team has some world-class players. But we have the belief that we can beat them.”
It is not unlikely that after Niklas Süle’s poor performance at right-back against Spain Thilo Kehrer could return to this position. The West Ham United professional had the most playing times of any player during Flick’s tenure until the start of the World Cup.
Nico Schlotterbeck, on the other hand, who not only showed weaknesses in the goal to make it 1:2, could give way to Süle as central defender. Does he already have his starting XI against Spain in mind? “I’ll sleep on it one more night and watch the final training session,” said Flick in Doha. “I’ll be a bit smarter tomorrow morning.” We’ll all be then on Sunday evening.