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Germany and Hansi Flick's magic number 7

Hecko Flores
March 25, 2022

With the 2022 World Cup still months away, there are high expectations for coach Hansi Flick and his revamped Germany squad. The team sailed through World Cup qualifying, but without facing the strongest of opponents.

Hansi Flick
So far it's been nothing but good news since Hansi Flick took over as Germany head coachImage: Arne Dedert/dpa/picture alliance

If Germany coach Hansi Flick were to play the lottery, seven would probably be his lucky number. 

When he took the reins at Bayern Munich, he was initially given seven Bundesliga matches as a caretaker, but Flick exceeded all expectations — and the "interim" was eventually removed from his title. 

In less than two years in charge, Flick won a total of seven titles — including the treble of Bundesliga, German Cup and Champions League titles in 2019-20 — while losing only seven matches in all competitions. 

One of the players who benefited the most from Flick's appointment was Thomas Müller, who had fallen out of favor with previous Bayern coach Niko Kovac and dropped from the national team by Joachim Löw following the catastrophic 2018 World Cup in Russia. 

Hansi Flick with six trophies
Hansi Flick won so many trophies with Bayern, it almost became routineImage: Sven Simon/imago images

"I know Hansi Flick very well as a coach," Müller said at a press conference ahead of Germany's first two matches of 2022 against Israel and the Netherlands. "What's expected of me [under Flick] is even clearer than it was before. I know what I have to do and that's why I feel very good here." 

Cruising through qualifying 

Flick has hit the ground running since being appointed Germany boss in August 2021. 

The coach has convincingly won all games at the helm — a total of seven World Cup qualifying matches, leading Germany to become the first team aside from the host nation Qatar to qualify for the tournament. 

However, facing opponents like Liechtenstein, Armenia and Romania isn't necessarily the best gauge with which to establish where the national team is really at.  

"It should be said that we didn't face top-class opponents during our World Cup qualifiers," Müller said. 

Thomas Müller
Hansi Flick's spells in charge at Bayern and now Germany have brought back the smile on Thomas Müller's faceImage: Markus Gilliar/GES/picture alliance

"But at the moment we feel very good because we've taken that momentum with us. We scored 31 goals and only allowed 2. It doesn't matter who the opponents were, those statistics give us a boost." 

High-caliber test

Although only a friendly, the game against the Netherlands next Tuesday will be the first of at least seven crucial tests against high-caliber opposition in 2022. 

Germany is to face both Euro 2020 finalists Italy and England as well as Hungary in the Nations League in the summer. The tournament will give Flick his last good opportunity to test and tweak his squad ahead of the World Cup, which kicks off in November. 

"Of course you want to show your best when you play against the top teams in Europe," said Müller. 

Finding the right starting XI 

Striking the right balance in time for Qatar will be key for Flick's success. The mix of young talent and established veterans was fundamental in Germany's 2014 World Cup-winning campaign. 

Matthias Ginter, who is regarded as one of the best defenders in Germany, was only 20 years old and had just played 91 minutes with the national team before being named to the World Cup for Brazil. 

"I was by far the youngest in the squad at the 2014 World Cup. I was just happy to be a part of it,” said the Mönchengladbach player who received a winner's medal, even though he didn't see a minute of playing time. 

"There were about eight or nine other players that played less than one half but that didn't matter. We all put our egos aside, as should always be the case. Of course, winning the title at such an early age was the icing on the cake,” said Ginter. 

Matthias Ginter battles Timo Werner for the ball
In Qatar in 2022, Matthias Ginter (left) is hoping to finally see some action in a World Cup matchImage: Markus Gilliar/GES/picture alliance

Four years later, a more seasoned Ginter was also named to the 2018 World Cup squad. Despite having over 170 Bundesliga matches under his belt at the time, the defender watched on from the bench as Germany crashed out at the group stage. 

So Ginter, who still hasn't made it onto the pitch in a World Cup match, could be in a position to become Flick's main man in Germany's back line in Qatar. 

"2018 was a disappointment for the whole team but especially for me as I was a bit older and more experienced. Going home after only three matches was very disappointing so I hope to play my first World Cup in 2022," said Ginter. 

Seven matches in Qatar 

Despite the dreadful performance in 2018, Germany remain one of the most successful national teams in the history of the World Cup, and expectations for Qatar are high, particularly among the players themselves. 

"I know that I will probably not get to play many more World Cups so after crashing out in 2018 in Russia and our exit against England [at Euro 2020,] it's important that we show a new version of ourselves and visualize success," said goalkeeper and captain Manuel Neuer. 

Germany's goal at the 2022 World Cup must be more ambitious than simply making it out of the group stage. And although this might be getting ahead of things; you have to wonder whether Flick's lucky number has crossed his mind when he thinks ahead to Qatar — when it will take seven matches to win the World Cup. 

Edited by: Chuck Penfold