Hansi Flick smiled. Most national players were already in the middle of training when the great hope of the badly battered DFB selection entered a side pitch on the Frankfurt DFB campus.
A little exchange, a little fun at the reunion - and then triple champion Ilkay Gündogan started preparing for the important football showdown in Warsaw.
Even if the Champions League winner from Manchester City does not play against Poland and star kicker Robert Lewandowski from the start on Friday (8.45 p.m. / ARD) after deserved party days: the return of the 32-year-old should be a sign to the fans who have become skeptical definitely represent.
"I hope that after the successes I can bring some momentum into it so that we can end the season well with the national team," said Gündogan according to the "Bild" newspaper when he arrived at the DFB team headquarters. As captain of the Cityzens, he lifted the silver handle pot into the Istanbul night sky last Saturday - an extremely rare celebration for a German international.
Gundogan is just in time
After the disappointing 3: 3 in Bremen against Ukraine, the one who won everything comes just in time for Flick, who failed to change the mood a year before the home European Championship 2024 kicked off. "Many players are not in their best form right now," said striker Niclas Füllkrug after the first of three test games with some alarming individual mistakes. Outside player Robin Gosens, who had lost the final of the premier class with Inter Milan, was already training with the team on Thursday. The 28-year-old could be the left alternative to the disappointing Leipzig David Raum.
Flick will have to change something. It's about delivering results, said Jonas Hofmann from Gladbach. After the trip to Poland, the season for the DFB selection ends next Tuesday in Gelsenkirchen against Colombia. And in theory, football seems very simple again: With two wins thanks to convincing performances, Flick can breathe before the EM warm-up in September against World Cup horror Japan and EM favorite France continues. Another error festival like against Ukraine - and Flick's second chance after the World Cup debacle in Qatar was more likely than ever.
Steinmeier also speaks out
The fact that even Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier commented on the thought games of a change of national coach (he is against it) made clear the overall situation, which was also complicated for the German Football Association. The home tournament has to work for the association, which is also struggling financially, and for that you need an intact national team. "We know that we have the players who can inspire people," said DFB sports director Rudi Völler, who had put himself in front of the national coach after the draw on Monday - had to put himself.
Against Bremen, Flick did without the two 20-year-old youngsters Musiala and Florian Wirtz in the starting XI, as well as Havertz, who is still only 24. "After training performance" he left, the national coach explained understandably. Not after the potentially big fan favorites could be in the shop window at the rare family-friendly kick-off time of 6 p.m.
At least Musiala and Havertz should have a very good chance of playing from the start in Poland's national stadium in Warsaw. Gündogan is - if at all - more of a candidate for a substitution. "It was hard to celebrate, but I'm more of a cautious person," said the midfielder, who, given the form he's had over the past few months, would be one of the seeded players in practically every team.
Critical moment Kimmich
Interim captain Joshua Kimmich and especially Bayern colleague Leon Goretzka are currently far away from this in midfield, which is actually the most heavily occupied part of the team. Harsh public judgments like that of record national player Lothar Matthäus in the "Sport Bild" about Kimmich ("The people next to him have recently been constantly worse") do not contribute to the calm. Instead of Goretzka, Flick could rely on Dortmund's Emre Can in Warsaw, who interprets the role of the clearer in front of the defense more defensively than the Munich player.
"We can improve in every part of the team," said Lukas Klostermann, who could be preferred to Nico Schlotterbeck in the next three-chain test. In several video sessions, Flick showed his professionals the mistakes. Every national player is "here because they have the mentality of wanting to win every game," said Klostermann.
The possible lineups:
Germany: Ter Stegen (FC Barcelona/31 years/32 internationals) - Klostermann (RB Leipzig/27/22), Ginter (SC Freiburg/29/51), Rüdiger (Real Madrid/30/58) - Can (Borussia Dortmund/ 29/39) - Wolf (Borussia Dortmund/28/3), Kimmich (FC Bayern Munich/28/77), Musiala (FC Bayern Munich/20/21), Gosens (Inter Milan/28/14) - Füllkrug (Werder Bremen/30/7), Havertz (FC Chelsea/24/35)
Poland: Szczesny (Juventus Turin/33 years/72 internationals) - Bereszynski (SSC Napoli/30/50), Wieteska (Clermont Foot/26/2), Bednarek (FC Southampton/27/48), Kiwior (FC Arsenal/23 /11) - Frankowski (RC Lens/28/32), Linetty (FC Torino/28/44), Zielinski (SSC Napoli/29/80), Kaminski (VfL Wolfsburg/21/9) - Swiderski (FC Charlotte/26 /21), Lewandowski (FC Barcelona/34/140)
Referee: Orel Grinfeeld (Israel)