Germany deserved to miss out. Germany deserved to go home.
I’ve always loved German football and supported Germany because my favourite players have been German and since most people in England loathed them and were jealous of their success, I decided to support the underdog.
And these days they are very much the underdog.
Ignore the fact that Werner and Wirtz and Reus were injured or that Draxler and Goosens were deemed surplus to requirements and concentrate on what we know about what happened.
Neuer, the often hailed keeper, is a poor shadow of what he once was. Yes, he can make some astonishing saves but they fall in between increasing errors (Costa Rica’s first) and a general lack of commitment. Some of the goals he concedes are embarrassing.
Defensively, Germany are terrible. Rudiger is still a class act but he shares defensive duties with Sule, the lumbering 6’6″ sometime right back or centreback who is average in both roles. Then there is David Raum, an immobile left back and Schlotterbeck, another lumbering centre-half who just isn’t very good. Or else there’s Ginter (who is okay) and Tah (also okay but not selected). There’s a real lack of presence there and Rudiger apart, I wouldn’t have any other of those named defenders in my squad.
In midfield we have Gundogan. Great for Manchester City but far too cautious and slow when in German colours. Then there is KImmich, who also fills in at right back, as ineffective player as I have ever seen. Raved about, apparently world-class, but totally anonymous and unable to stamp his authority on anything. I do like Goretzka because he’s box to box and looks committed but why Julian Brandt, a dynamic young player never got a look in is quite beyond me.
Up front, Flick got it horribly wrong. Havertz was anonymous against Japan but is a talent. Muller, on the other hand, has been a great servant but is past it and well past it. He missed a huge chance against Costa Rica and that was all he did of note. Fullkrug scored goals but did he get a start? Of course not. There was barely any room for Moussoko bar a few minutes vs Japan and Adeyimi, another fleet-footed attacker, never kicked a ball in anger. Why they bothered to travel is beyond me.
The one shining light was Musiala. In all three matches he showed skill, composure, work ethic and desire sorely lacking in several of his team mates. He really looked the part.
I don’t rate Hofmann or Klostermann that highly and it is clear that Germany is now suffering from a dearth of talent beyond a small pool of players who will take Germany on. They still have Gnabry and Sane, Werner, Havertz, Moussoko, Adeyimi, Nmecha, Musiala, Wirtz and Fullkrug, at least for the next couple of years but they need to find a midfield and defence to complement their attacking options. They need the next Neuer, the next Lahm, the next Mertesacker and the next Kroos.
I can’t see them. I can’t see them in their under 21s or under 20s. Players who I have watched and liked in the past seem to have vanished, their races run, their abilities found wanting.
I am sure Germany will rise again and in their place we will look to a golden age of English talent to dominate the next 4-6 years. But watch this space, Germany can’t get much worse and one day, just when we think it’s all over, they’ll be back.