Disillusionment instead of EM euphoria: The German national football team suffered a bad setback when it restarted. Hansi Flick’s team suffered their first home defeat against their neighbors in 113 years in a 2-3 (1-2) win against Belgium in Cologne and were still well served with the result.
The first half hour was like a bitter lesson for the four-time world champion. Record national player Lothar Matthäus spoke on “RTL” shocked by a “two-class difference” compared to the fourth in the world rankings with coach Domenico Tedesco. Director Rudi Völler, not in the stadium because of kidney colic, must have been terrified.
Yannick Carrasco (6th) and star striker Romelu Lukaku (9th) ensured the fastest 0:2 deficit for the DFB team since the 1:4 in Italy in 2006, the outstanding Kevin De Bruyne added the third goal (78th). . Crowd favorite Niclas Füllkrug (44′, penalties) made the connection with his sixth goal in the sixth international match, the 2:3 through Serge Gnabry (87′) came too late.
In the second half, the DFB selection braced itself vehemently against the impending defeat. She finally showed the virtues that Flick or Völler had called for after the World Cup defeat. But she was unable to avert her first defeat in a test since June 2018 in front of 42,910 spectators (sold out).
The biggest German winners were sitting at home: the rested defense chief Antonio Rüdiger, Nico Schlotterbeck who left ailing and Niklas Süle. They are all expected back in June when a peace signal is due to be sent in the 1000th international match against Ukraine in Bremen.
Horror show in the first few minutes
“WILLE leads to success – let’s go to the new summer fairy tale 2024!” said the fan choreography in the stands. But the first few minutes were like a horror show. Flick wanted to see “the next step” from his team defensively against top players like Lukaku and De Bruyne and warned: “We have to be ready for the duels!” But he was disappointed.
Before the 0:1, the central defenders Thilo Kehrer and Matthias Ginter lost direct duels in his 50th international match. Marius Wolf, still a strong debutant against Peru (2-0), was duped by goalscorer Carrasco. At 2-0, Leon Goretzka let De Bruyne go, Ginter was shot in the leg and David Raum was flagged for offside.
Goretzka also played for the 50th time in the DFB jersey and was preferred to “mentality player” Emre Can. “It’s a magical brand and something very special for every player,” said Flick, who was forced to make two other changes: Kehrer played for the ailing Schlotterbeck, Serge Gnabry for the sick Kai Havertz.
Captain Joshua Kimmich and Goretzka had no access in midfield, and De Bruyne in particular was difficult to control. Herthan’s Dodi Lukebakio missed a free-standing counterattack after a German corner, as did Lukaku, who hit the bar with his head (21′).
Flick reacts early
The angry Flick reacted to the blatant inferiority with an early double change: Can replaced Goretzka, who had pain in his left leg, debutant Felix Nmecha the weak Florian Wirtz (32nd). In addition, the national coach switched to 4-3-3, coached more intensively, pushed on when the ball was lost (“Go on, go on!”).
Above all, Can stabilized the German game. The reward was the goal: Lukaku fended off a header from Füllkrug with his hand, Bremen scored confidently from the point against Wolfsburg’s Koen Casteels in the Belgian goal.
After the change of sides, the Germans supported each other better against a weakening opponent who had also failed in the preliminary round at the World Cup. Gnabry (53′) or Kimmich (70′) almost used this before De Bruyne completed a counterattack. After a fine solo, Gnabry hit the outer post (84th) and a little later to make it 2:3.