Former Bayern Munich and Germany defender Holger Badstuber believes that Germany are no longer a top footballing nation after their elimination from the World Cup.
“It is a debacle. Weak, embarrassing, unworthy, disappointing. I have heard and seen many reactions after the match of the German national team against Costa Rica. All of them are somehow right, all of them are justified,” began Badstuber.
“It starts with not implementing the basics well. These include tackling, defending together, anticipation, concentration and the greed in each individual to force himself to give a top performance. These virtues have brought us success in the past, now they are very weakened.
“It goes on with poor education and there are many characteristics that are carried from the bottom to the top: Now there is a generation in the national team that simply no longer has that certain something, that no longer makes that certain extra metre, that doesn’t have enough bite. That was the case in 2018, at the European Championships and now. These are three tournaments that were a sporting disaster.
“We are no longer hard workers, instead I only see spoilt players without bite and the willingness to focus only on football. It’s all about improving yourself every day, exceeding your own expectations! Individual development is no longer the top priority. That is frightening.
“The focus must now move away from any systems, away from possession football, away from the offensive, towards a basic defensive structure. How do I behave in one-on-one situations? How do I defend as a team, how do I defend in the individual lines? We are conceding too many goals!”
Badstuber also delivered a stinging rebuke of Germany’s current level, saying the defence was not even European class.
“Our defence no longer has anything to do with world class, not even with European class,” he added. “It starts in the youth, not only in the last chain, but also with the behaviour in combination against the ball. It starts at the front and continues to the back. Defence wins titles! This old saying has not changed at all.
“Hansi Flick has to question himself, of course. I think he sees what’s going wrong. At the press conference, he already addressed the deficiencies in the training of the defence, but the basic structure of the national team also needs to be questioned hard.
“In the end, it was no longer about pure football, it was no longer about this game itself, about the association, not about the elite of German football. Germany is no longer elite. Germany is definitely no longer one of the top nations in world football. We are no longer a top nation!”
It is just eight short years since Germany won the World Cup, but a root-and-branch investigation and some harsh decisions are required to arrest their slide, adds Badstuber.
“To change this again, everyone at the German Football Federation (DFB) has to be tough on themselves. Improvements are urgently needed in the training of players. Above all, with hard training, the idea of a new basic structure must be consolidated. This is a process that has been missed in recent years.
“For some national players, it’s obviously about having a good time in the national team. But that is the wrong way. It’s about inspiring people, arousing emotions and confirming again and again that being called up to the national team was the right choice by the national coach.”
A dejected Thomas Muller of Germany waves to the fans at full time after both teams are knocked out the FIFA World Cup in the group stages during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group E match between Costa Rica and Germany at Al Bayt Stadium on December 1,
Image credit: Getty Images
Badstuber, capped 31 times by his country, lamented the circumstances of what could be last World Cup appearances for Thomas Müller and Manuel Neuer, and reserved special praise for Jamal Musiala.
“I feel sorry for Thomas Muller and Manuel Neuer, they will probably have played their last World Cup game,” he added.
“They are real legends, they helped shape the successful years and represented the values that matter until the end. But they will think carefully about their steps and probably also realise that it will take years before the DFB team will be at a decent level again.
“I would like to exclude Jamal Musiala from my criticism. At 19, he is already a brutally good player.
“I have to hold back, because I’m usually sparing with superlatives for such young players like him. But it’s just pure pleasure to watch him. The way he moves, wriggles out of difficult situations – with the ball, without the ball. He is incredibly stable and always ready to work on the defensive side as well. It’s great to have him in the team, he will bring a lot of joy to Germany’s football.
“With its disastrous performance in Qatar, the German team has not only lost ground to the top nations, but also more fans.”
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