DOHA: Perhaps the most damning indictment in the inquest into Germany’s second consecutive exit from a World Cup at the group stage came from 23-year-old forward Kai Havertz, who said simply, “I don’t think we’re a tournament team anymore”.
With four World Cups and three European championship wins, Germany’s reputation for turning up when it truly matters was once so well-earned, there is a word for it in German: Turniermannschaft, or “tournament team”.
After Hansi Flick’s team crashed out in Qatar, having never really recovered from a stunning opening 2-1 defeat to Japan, that reputation is in tatters. Germany crashed out four years in Russia and also went out in the last 16 in last year’s European Championship.
So just 18 months away from hosting the next Euros in 2024, they are in the unfamiliar position of being outsiders for a tournament held on home soil. The 4-2 win against Costa Rica on Thursday was too little, too late. Germany needed Spain to at least draw with Japan but the Spanish went down 2-1 and Germany lost out on goal difference.
As the dejected squad boarded a plane from Doha back to Frankfurt on Friday, German Football Association (DFB) President Bernd Neuendorf refused to guarantee that Flick’s job was secure, while hinting that the root cause of the problems ran much deeper.
Neuendorf announced a series of inquiries into “the development of the national team and our football since 2018”. The DFB would “look ahead” with a focus on “developing perspectives (for) the Euros in our own country.” Flick, who said on Thursday he wanted to stay in his job but knew “it isn’t up to me”, called for an overhaul of the junior development system.