Everything is supposed to get better in 2023. And with Hansi Flick. Despite the Qatar hangover. And despite the bad experience with Joachim Löw's continued employment after the World Cup disaster four years ago in Russia. This DFB plan stands. In addition, a good four weeks after the next World Cup preliminary round, which was both unnecessary and self-inflicted, at the turn of the year, a lot is still open for the national soccer team.
A group of experts led by Bayern boss Oliver Kahn is intensifying the search for a successor to manager Oliver Bierhoff, who has resigned after 18 years with the DFB. On the other hand, there are no signs of a large-scale upheaval in Flick's squad of players and the supervisory staff. And before the last day of 2022, it was not even clear which opponents the DFB selection would play in the first international matches after the winter break at the end of March.
Flick's new benchmark is June 14, 2024
"We coaches have certain wishes. Now we're seeing if they can be fulfilled," said Flick of the German Press Agency before Christmas about the international match planning for 2023. The DFB President had that the 57-year-old was allowed to continue despite the botched Qatar tournament Bernd Neuendorf and DFL supervisory board chairman Hans-Joachim Watzke, on the other hand, decided in a round of three shortly after the World Cup. Flick made a lot of calls afterwards. He wanted to get in touch with his World Cup players in order to "complete" the Qatar analysis before the turn of the year, as he said.
Looking ahead in the new year. Flick's new fixed point is June 14, 2024. On this day, the national team will play the opening game of the European Championship in Munich, for which Germany, as the host, is automatically qualified. "It's a challenge for me to bring the European Championship to a good end," said Flick.
The national coach has declared the tournament in his own country to be his new "project". The nation should gather behind the national team again in the summer of 2024. Flick and his players missed that in Qatar. It was a lot about politics, human rights and the rejection of host Qatar - and little about football. Now the DFB is dreaming of a German summer fairy tale again, 18 years after the atmospheric home World Cup in 2006.
Neuendorf calls EM 2024 "a great opportunity"
However, a lot has to change for this to happen, on and off the field. International matches should again be successful evening entertainment for an audience of millions. Neuendorf wants a national team with the attributes "young", "inspiring" and "successful" for the home tournament. However, coaches, associations and players have to make advance payments. It is important to establish a new proximity to the fans, for example through public training. Association boss Neuendorf calls the EM 2024 "a great opportunity - which we must not miss".
No one should think that home field advantage is automatic; even though Germany became world champion in their own country in 1974 and reached the semi-finals at the 1988 European Championship and the second home World Cup in 2006. "We have a lot to make up for," admitted Flick after the World Cup flop. He spoke of "a debt to bring".
For him, 2023 will be the year of probation. The nimbus as the title coach from his time at Bayern has been consumed. Flick clearly missed the target "Back to the top of the world" in Qatar through his own mistakes. There was potential for more in the squad. Germany can't compete with top teams like Argentina and France at the moment.
Flick will have to draw the right World Cup conclusions. A tournament formation must be recorded long before an emergency occurs. Flick did not find his World Cup team in Qatar until he was eliminated. Efficiency is part of offensive football - and success in a tournament is based on defensive strength. "If you look at the defense, then we're average. We have to work on that," Flick recognized in the review of just three German World Cup games.
An era could end in goal
World champions Argentina, World Cup finalists France, but also Croatia or the Moroccans, who perform with a lot of passion, are points of reference. Flick will also have to act wisely in terms of personnel. However, he is not inclined towards a radical upheaval. "There's no reason to tell a player now, you're out, you're gone," was his announcement. That didn't sound like an end for Thomas Müller (33) or Ilkay Gündogan (32).
An era could end in goal: Manuel Neuer (36) faces an uncertain future after his skiing accident with a broken tibia and fibula. is he coming back again Marc-André ter Stegen and Kevin Trapp could "show what they can do" in the upcoming international matches, announced Flick. He sees "tremendous quality in the goalkeeping position".
The Qatar World Cup also revealed the importance of real leaders: Lionel Messi led Argentina to the title. Despite his youth, Kylian Mbappé was a leader with the French. And Luka Modric was Croatia's undisputed boss. After the fuss about the "One Love" armband, the focus is again on the captain's armband in the new year.
Who will be the new captain of the DFB selection?
Who does she give Flick to? The national coach could set an example by combining the start of the European Championships with the appointment of a permanent successor to long-term captain Neuer. Joshua Kimmich (27), the leader of the previously unfortunate generation in 1995/96, could promote Flick to the 75th international match in March. Or also Antonio Rüdiger (29)?
The Neuer successor could be the head of a team that is currently well equipped with young players like Jamal Musiala (19), Kai Havertz (23) or Florian Wirtz (19), who was injured at the World Cup. Flick will carry some position problems (full-back, center forward) into the new year. Nevertheless, his 2023 resolution is: "Do the right things with a view to the EM."