Nadine Angerer analyzes the World Cup in Qatar for 90 minutes. In her second column, the world champion from 2003 and 2007 looks back on the first two group games of the DFB team and ventures a prognosis for the duel against Costa Rica. She also reveals why there are no clear favorites at this World Cup and how she rates goalkeeper performance at the World Cup so far.
The World Cup is only ten days old, the preliminary round isn't over yet - and yet the German team has already had a little emotional roller coaster ride. The 2-1 draw against Japan at the start was not only a sporting setback, but also a major mental one. Manuel Neuer and Co. hadn't yet found the tournament mode against the Samurai Blue and in the end couldn't complain, despite a wealth of chances, were left empty-handed.
The DFB team showed a completely different face against Spain. Will to win, commitment, team spirit - suddenly I found all the classic German virtues on the pitch that I had been looking for in vain against the Japanese. The fact that in the end, Niklas Füllkrug, the player who best embodies these virtues, scores the equaliser, fits into the picture.
In the decisive duel against the low-lying Costa Rica, Hansi Flick will most likely bring the beefy center forward from the start. The filling jug deserves it. However, I'm still unsure whether he can have the same influence on the game in the starting lineup as as a joker.
Regardless of personnel issues, I believe that we can make it through to the round of 16 against Costa Rica. Of course, the team must approach the game with the same concentration as against Spain and must not take the Central Americans lightly. The Japanese can sing a song about it - and the DFB, let's think of South Korea four years ago, too. But this time our team will withstand the pressure and win the decisive group game.
Overall, I believe that Germany doesn't have to hide from the other nations. So far no nation has blown me away, be it Brazil, France or the other usual suspects. On the other hand, I'm positively surprised by the African teams, who all make a good impression, and by the Canadians. The team around Bayern star Alphonso Davies has to pack their bags early after two defeats. Nevertheless, it was fun to watch this squad and their active approach to the game. The Belgians seem completely different to me, who have so far not lived up to their role as secret favourites. From the outside it looks as if there is a lot of rumbling going on in the Red Devils dressing room - that's obviously how difficult it is to survive at a World Cup.
It's still difficult for me to look at the World Cup from a purely sporting point of view and to ignore the political circumstances. Even though I love football and the tournament is slowly picking up speed, it's difficult for me to root for it with the same emotions as usual. Even in my circle of friends, the euphoria is limited. About half of my acquaintances have decided to boycott and don't watch a single game. And the ratings also show more than clearly that a World Cup in Qatar is just not fun.
In the USA, my second home country, things are a little different. The fans don't let the political circumstances stop them from standing behind their team as one. It's the same in all sports and of course doesn't mean that the Americans aren't interested in politics. I was able to convince myself of this after the German "mouth closed" protest against Japan. My American friends told me in dozens of messages how much they were impressed by German courage. I found that amazing, especially since the DFB-Elf was criticized in their own country.
A note on an area that I follow particularly closely, of course: goalkeeping. After only two matchdays it is clear that the trend towards goalkeepers who play along is continuing. In almost all nations, the goalkeepers are treated as eleventh field players and consistently involved in the game. This approach is particularly evident with the Spaniards, where Unai Simón has to keep calm even under the greatest pressure and bring the ball to the man in a controlled manner. Honestly, when I think about my active time, I sometimes catch my breath.
Nadine Angerer (44) made 146 appearances for the German national team in her career and won the World Cup in 2003 and 2007. In addition, she was European champion five times in her career and received the award for World Player of the Year and Europe's Player of the Year in 2013. Today, the two-time German champion works as Director of Goalkeeping for the Portland Thorns in the US National Women's Soccer League (NWSL).
This article was originally published on 90min.de as "WM mood: So-so" - The World Cup column by Nadine Angerer.