AAs the winner, Hansi Flick and his national team could not leave the glowing orange Johan Cruijff Arena in Amsterdam on Tuesday evening, but it would suit this national coach if he weren’t so wrong in this case. There were no points to be awarded in the 1-1 friendly in the Netherlands, it was all about gaining knowledge.
“I’m happy that we got the chance to try it out,” said Flick, who used this international break like an engineer in a test laboratory full of exciting equipment. After that first game against a high-class opponent, he can continue to work as the team’s head coach with a large package of fresh insights.
However, in many moments both teams could already see how unfinished they are. The players worked, discussed, looked for potential and limits. Flick was later happy about “a very good game by two teams who want to play football” and above all praised his team’s first 60 minutes. “We have good character, are self-confident, if you draw a line under it, we’re on the right track,” said Manuel Neuer. But eight months before the World Cup, neither the Germans nor the Dutch have top-class spectacle football to offer.
Müller scores just before the break
For a long time, little happened in front of the gates, it was better defended than attacked. The German back four, whose left half was formed by the internationally inexperienced Nico Schlotterbeck and David Raum, looked stable, even if Raum contributed to the Dutchman’s equalizer with a too hesitant header duel. But both are stuck in Flick’s plans for the time being.
Thilo Kehrer was less convincing on the right, the injured Jonas Hofmann has a good chance of returning to the front row straight away after his recovery. Exactly such impressions the national coach had hoped for. And he now also knows that the offensive remains a sensitive area of work.
Thomas Müller scored well just before the break to make it 1-0 (45 minutes), but many of the Dutchman’s actions around the penalty area lacked ease. Leroy Sané did some good things but once again played with the charisma of a player who can’t really fulfill his enormous potential. And Kai Havertz and Timo Werner worked hard, but could hardly assert themselves against the back three that Louis van Gaal established against Dutch tradition.
“The game was pretty good for assessing your own performance,” said Müller, considering that the team had only played against significantly weaker opponents since the European Championship. Now he has noticed that a “good team with good players” is emerging here who “can also dominate”.
Flick was able to gain the most interesting insights from his experiments in midfield, where Ilkay Gündogan played together with Jamal Musiala, whose performance inspired the coach. The 19-year-old from Munich was the dominant figure on the pitch, repeatedly freeing the team’s game with clever moves from the Dutch press.
“When in possession, it was already clear that he always knows how to assert himself very well,” said Flick, but it was less well known how strong this rather slender footballer is when he is supposed to disrupt the opposing game. “What he did on defense today was outstanding,” said Flick, who was no longer satisfied with the last half hour of the game.
A period after the break, in which the Germans had perhaps given themselves a little too much to their sense of their own strength, was followed by a small slump. Steven Bergwijn scored to make it 1-1 (68′), the 50,000 spectators in the stadium were loud and the DFB team faltered. But Flick is probably even happy that his experimental setup also led to the kind of stress that winning teams in major tournaments always have to deal with at some point.
In those minutes, Thilo Kehrer almost paved the way for the Dutch team to win when he fouled Memphis Depay in the penalty area. But the English referee annulled the penalty kick that was initially imposed, according to the TV images, because Kehrer had also touched the ball – a dubious decision.
Perhaps the referee felt that this draw not only fitted into the game, but also into the plans of both coaches. No one is tempted to exuberance after this test, at the same time everyone can be satisfied in some way – maybe apart from the German substitutes.
Because people like Julian Draxler, Florian Neuhaus, Christian Günter and Julian Brandt were not able to use this international window during their minutes on the pitch to substantiate their claims to a place in the World Cup squad. There was no stimulating impetus from the bench either against Israel or in the Netherlands. But that will change when Kimmich, Hofmann, Goretzka, Reus, Adeyemi and maybe even Florian Wirtz return to the team at some point.
#DFB #team #Netherlands #Flicks #exciting #results #test #laboratory