Rudi Völler takes on the unwanted role of emergency helper on the coaching bench with passion and full commitment, but only “as a one-off thing”. The DFB sports director made this clear 27 hours before the Herculean task against fearful opponents France with World Cup top scorer Kylian Mbappé.
“I know I can help out,” said the 63-year-old. And he also made a promise to the “wonderful fans” who will be in the Dortmund stadium on Tuesday evening (9 p.m./ARD). “I would love to promise a great result, but that’s not possible,” said Völler. But he could promise Hansi Flick for the first game that "the attitude will be right. The players are on fire."
Völler had already made an announcement to the team, which was still led by Ilkay Gündogan as captain, after the “embarrassing” 1:4 against Japan, when he had not yet spoken as interim team boss. “Nobody can have their pants full.” Meanwhile, Gündogan answered with one word whether Germany was an outsider against France: “Yes!” Nevertheless, it is “time to achieve a decent result.”
“We have to try to regain credit”
In his comeback to the DFB coaching bench 19 years after his resignation, Völler wants to stop the national team's decline and, ideally, bring about a change in the mood in the country. And for this, the former fan favorite places particular responsibility on the players who were no longer able (or unwilling?) to deliver under Flick. “We have to try to regain credit,” warned Völler. He believes that a team with many professionals who have proven themselves in Champions League games such as Gündogan, Marc-André ter Stegen, Antonio Rüdiger or Joshua Kimmich can and must do more than in the five international games without a win in the apocalyptic atmosphere under Flick.
“The players can do it too, they all come from top clubs and show their performance - and I expect that on Tuesday too,” said Völler. The DFB entourage traveled by bus from Wolfsburg to Dortmund on Monday. There, supported by U20 selection coach Hannes Wolf and ex-national player Sandro, Völler had to prepare the unsettled, but perhaps now freed of doubts and ballast, team for the French in just one training session. Local hero Niklas Süle, who left the team at least temporarily due to the impending birth of his second child, could miss out.
Völler does not want to change the team completely
In addition, some players who Völler did not name are injured. "One, two, three changes," he announced, he would not change everything. He spoke of "impulses" that he wanted to set with his helpers. "We have a game against the best team in Europe at the moment. That will of course be difficult," said Völler. But he added a sentence in the self-image of the 1990 world champion: "We are still Germany."
Völler wants to present a successor solution for Flick “relatively quickly” with the other DFB decision-makers around President Bernd Neuendorf: “That is the main task.” Names from Jürgen Klopp to Julian Nagelsmann are traded, no matter how true and, above all, how realistic they are. The group of candidates is not large shortly after the start of the season. Völler could give the association valuable time and take some of the pressure off with a bright spot in results and performance against France. The DFB team is going on a trip to the USA in October.
DFB team needs security and stability
What immediate measures will the former world-class striker take? First and foremost, Völler will try to give the team security and stability. In short: no further experiments. Back to the 4-2-3-1 system that has been tried and tested for years, possibly with Joshua Kimmich (80 international games) and Ilkay Gündogan (68 appearances) as experienced double sixes in midfield and DFB veteran Thomas Müller (122) in attack. After conceding 13 goals in the last five international matches, Völler named one main problem that annoys him: "The most important thing is that our defensive behavior has improved extremely."
It is now the players' turn, Flick is no longer an alibi. Gündogan spoke of “a mix of sadness, frustration, disappointment” in the team: “As a player, I have the feeling that I have let Hansi down,” said the 32-year-old. But the look is forward. With a view to the big challenge against the Équipe Tricolore, Kimmich denied fear ("Zero!") and instead gave the route: "It's not about us playing nicely and getting into the game via passing relays. It's important now that we Bringing other attributes onto the pitch, passion and so on. That's what it's all about now." Gündogan added: “First of all, we want to correct our individual mistakes.”
The French, with their well-rehearsed team and their numerous offensive experts such as Mbappé, Antoine Griezmann, Ousmane Dembélé, Randal Kolo Mouani, Marcus Thuram or even Bayern's Kingsley Coman, are certainly not suitable as building opponents. National coach Didier Deschamps' team started their European Championship qualifying group with a flawless five wins and 11-0 goals, including a 4-0 win against the Netherlands.
The last defeat and the last goals conceded came in the 3-3 draw in the thrilling World Cup final in Qatar against Argentina and Lionel Messi only lost on penalties. Even a Völler comeback won't be enough. “I wouldn’t have imagined that it would be so difficult in the last few weeks and months,” groaned the temporary coach.