Thanks to Niclas Füllkrug, the German national team can continue to hope for a place in the World Cup round of 16. Still, she needs help.
Niclas Füllkrug could hardly save himself from well-wishers. National coach Hansi Flick hugged his “super joker”, not a teammate who didn’t high-five the German national team’s knight of fortune after the final whistle or hearted his late heroic deed.
The dream of the fifth star is alive thanks to the Werder Bremen striker’s equalizer – but the fate of the DFB selection is hanging by a thread after the 1-1 (0-0) against feared opponents Spain. “It’s gigantic what the team did today,” said Flick nonetheless.
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“We really wanted to play this game, it’s important that we got a point. We can go into the last game with a good feeling and hope that everything will turn out well,” said Füllkrug, who scored the final score in the 83rd minute met. In the last group game against outsiders Costa Rica next Thursday, the German team must win in any case – and at the same time hope for support from the Spaniards. But: “The most important thing is that we’re still alive,” said captain Manuel Neuer.
The substitute filling jug made sure that the situation is not worse. The goal was the well-deserved reward for the passion with which the DFB selection braced itself against a second preliminary round defeat. Previously, Alvaro Morata (62nd) had taken the lead for the mostly superior Spaniards – in a phase in which Germany had just fought at least at eye level. And so the way to the round of 16, despite the support of Costa Rica against Japan (1-0), is like a calculation with many unknowns.
“We can live with the result and the performance. We knew beforehand that the Spaniards would have more possession of the ball. We defended it well and in the end we had the better chances,” said Ilkay Gündogan – and praised the man who was a great relief in the German camp: “You can tell from Niclas’ goal what qualities he has. That was a brutally important goal. We got the chance to progress. That’s the most important thing.”
Flick makes changes in the starting XI
However, one thing is also clear: three points against Costa Rica are a must. It would be ideal if the Spaniards, who almost certainly qualified for the round of 16, won against Japan at the same time. If the two teams draw, the DFB selection must have a better goal difference than the Asians in the end. If Japan wins, the goal difference is compared to Spain, which, however, then has an almost unassailable advantage thanks to the 7-0 win against Costa Rica.
After the embarrassment against Japan (1: 2), Flick had made changes to his starting lineup as expected – exactly two: Thilo Kehrer moved into the team for Nico Schlotterbeck, Kai Havertz had to give way for Leon Goretzka – Thomas Müller moved to his position in the center of the attack. Kehrer “made a good impression, so it was obvious,” said the national coach on “ZDF” about the change in defense. As a result, Niklas Süle slipped inside.
Rüdiger hits the goal from offside
However, the Spaniards only needed up to the seventh minute to spread fear and terror in the German defense. Goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, who caught up with the previous record holders Sepp Maier and Claudio Taffarel (Brazil) with his 18th World Cup appearance, was able to direct a shot from Leipzig’s Dani Olmo to the crossbar with a brilliant save. The already recognizable superiority of the “Red Fury” did not decrease after that.
A defender of all people provided the most exciting moments on the offensive: Antonio Rüdiger headed the ball into the goal after a free kick by Joshua Kimmich (40th), but the jubilation was suddenly interrupted – the video referee had recognized an offside position. Shortly thereafter, Rüdiger tested goalkeeper Unai Simon with a shot from a tight angle (45′). On the other hand, excitement was much more common up until then.
Filling jug rewards the courage to go on the offensive
What had already been indicated towards the end of the first half became more obvious after the break: the Spaniards’ vigor was a little gone, the German team were increasingly on an equal footing, and Gündogan in particular was now better in the game. Kimmich even had the opening goal on his feet (56th), but Simon parried. Shortly thereafter, Kehrer was unable to prevent a cross from Jordi Alba, Süle canceled the offside – Morata scored.
Flick reacted – by substituting the attackers Leroy Sane and Füllkrug. The man from Bremen could have become a hero right away, but Jamal Musiala, the best German player, preferred to shoot himself instead of aiming across at the well-positioned goalscorer (73′). Ten minutes later, Füllkrug rewarded the courage to go on the offensive.
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