One would love to see a sports betting provider setting its odds for the World Cup in Qatar these days. For once, the bookmaker will have to do this by gut feeling, without the help of software and data mining, because football is going crazy at the moment. World champion France loses to little Denmark in the Nations League, Spain is defeated by Switzerland and the Germans are the most enigmatic team ever. 0:1 against Hungary in Leipzig on Friday and now a 3:3 against England in Wembley – after a 2:0 lead.
No algorithm in this world can currently grasp and seriously evaluate the German national team, because many different groups are hidden behind the label "DFB-Team": The brilliant Germans, who rushed from victory to victory in the 2021/22 World Cup qualifiers, seemingly effortlessly . The ensemble of the despondent, which cannot beat the playfully limited Hungarians in two games. The fearless outclassing European champions Italy 5-2. And finally the fickle ones who outplay the European Championship finalists England in their own stadium for 25 minutes and then suddenly collapse for no apparent reason.
The World Cup in Qatar begins in just under eight weeks, and seldom before has a German team presented such a confusing and contradictory picture as it has these days. The DFB team is caught in a kind of random play mode: Sometimes they play a hit (rarely), sometimes a B-side (often), sometimes a weird medley of both (very often).
The only problem is that eleven months after taking office, national coach Hansi Flick still doesn't know which buttons to press to at least issue the medley. The crew itself can no longer hear this melodramatic piece. Giving away a 2-0 lead against England, "that must worry you," said Kai Havertz with raised eyebrows and dark eyes. Joshua Kimmich said that the opponent's race to catch up was "inexplicable, because the English didn't even play with the ball."
That's probably true. It was the Germans themselves who encouraged their opponents to try scoring goals. Already in midfield they defended half-heartedly, apparently with the good feeling that they could somehow bring the 2-0 lead over time. The scene that made it 1-2 in the 72nd minute was significant: when England's Luke Shaw scored the goal, he was alone in the open, with central defenders Süle and Schlotterbeck behind him. The wingers would have to help out defensively in such a situation, Flick later complained, "but that wasn't the case."
Germany currently lack a center-back duo of international caliber if Antonio Rudiger (suspended against England) is out. Nico Schlotterbeck, who replaced him, has strengths in building up the game, but he still lacks the feeling for timing in a duel. Schlotterbeck's botched tackle against Jude Bellingham, his team-mate from Dortmund, was followed by a penalty whistle. Harry Kane meanwhile gave England a 3-2 lead. It wasn't Schlotterbeck's first serious blunder in his short international career.
Niklas Süle, Schlotterbeck's partner in central defence, is more experienced and controlled in man-to-man duels, but he lacks the pace. England winger Raheem Sterling kept surpassing him, it just takes too long for Süle to get his muscular body up to speed.
Another problem area: the left flank. There, David Raum ran up and down like a pit bull, but his runs mostly produced imprecise crosses. Last season, Raum was the discovery of the Bundesliga; during the summer break he moved from Hoffenheim to Leipzig for 26 million euros. There he is now looking for the form of bygone days.
National coach Flick has little time to close the many construction sites. His team is only meeting for a short training camp in Oman a week before the World Cup; on 11/23 she then denies her first group game against Japan. It will be interesting to see which team will perform at Doha's Khalifa International Stadium: the despondent, the fearless - or again the melodramatic medley players.