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Five questions about Flick's Germany after perfect start

November 14, 2021

Germany's 2022 World Cup qualifying campaign ended with a 4-1 win in Armenia. After seven straight victories under Hansi Flick, DW's writers answer the five biggest questions about Germany under their new head coach.

Germany celebrate a goal against Armenia
How good is Flick's Germany team?Image: Hayk Baghdasaryan/Photolure/REUTERS

What grade would you give Hansi Flick so far?

It might be a bit much to give Flick top marks given the level of Germany's opponents, but turning a Germany team bereft of confidence into a dominant force full of fun in half a year is still noteworthy. Big wins, set-piece goals and a real flowing attack have solidified Germany's return. A. Jonathan Harding

Beating lower quality opposition is one thing. Scoring 31 goals, conceding just twice and dominating lower quality opposition is another. You can only beat the teams in front of you, and Germany look similarly impressive as Bayern Munich did when Hansi Flick took the reins there in 2019. If Flick's success in Bavaria is anything to go by, look out. A+. Davis VanOpdorp

Flick came in with plenty of credit in the bank and a favourable run of fixtures and has done what was expected of him, despite a bit of a stuttering start. It's clear that his time at Bayern has forged strong relationships with the core of the national team, a formula that's worked out well for others in the past. It's hard to judge whether he's solved all of the issues that emerged under Joachim Löw due to his opposition, so it's hard to award him full marks. B. Matt Pearson

Who is Germany's most important player right now?

Yes, Leon Goretzka and Joshua Kimmich, but Leroy Sane, spending a bit more time centrally, is back to his sensational, elusive best. In an attack full of quality, his ability to unlock opposition defences now feels key to the success of this team. Jonathan Harding

The team operates differently when Leon Goretzka is in midfield. He brings a grace and physicality that no one else in Germany's squad can. It's also hard to argue with the numbers: Goretzka has seven assists in six games since Flick took over. Davis VanOpdorp

His brilliance is often taken for granted but Manuel Neuer has re-established himself as the best goalkeeper in the world. His experience and leadership are crucial but, as he's shown at Bayern, he can also bail out a wobbly defense when it matters. Matt Pearson

Who do you want to see more of in Germany colors?

Ridle Baku. He offers a genuine goal threat down the right and while Jonas Hofmann appears to be Flick's favorite in the right-wing back position, a player who offers more going forward and has more defensive experience deserves a run of games. Jonathan Harding

Christian Günter. Both fullback positions in Germany's defense have been a work in progress for years. Why not give an experienced Bundesliga veteran a shot? With Sane in form up front, you may only need a steady pair of hands further back anyway, and Günter is the consummate professional Flick and Germany covet. Davis VanOpdorp

It was disappointing to see Lukas Nmecha named in the squad but not handed a start. It's too early in his career to know if he's up to scratch but as a man in form, and with these games largely meaningless, it seems a missed opportunity that we saw so little of him. Matt Pearson

What will Flick's biggest challenge be?

Getting the right man to lead the line will be a pretty big decision for Flick, but given the sporting success so far perhaps it's off the field that the bigger issues lie. How Flick handles a World Cup clouded in human rights issues will impact both the team and the image around it. Jonathan Harding

Who is the right pairing in central defense? Antonio Rüdiger appears to have one of the spots locked down, but it's unclear who should complement him. Is it Mats Hummels, who will turn 34 during the World Cup next year? Niklas Süle? Matthias Ginter? Flick needs to find out. Davis VanOpdorp

Selection issues around fullbacks and forwards aside, striking the right balance could be key. Recalls for Müller and Hummels and staying power of Neuer, Ginter, Reus and Gündogan mean there is a familiar feel to a period marked as a new era. Finding a way to mix young with old will require all his tactical and emotional acumen. Matt Pearson

What about a way-too-early-prediction for Germany's World Cup chances?

I think Germany are back among the favorites to win it. Flick's recent past at Bayern Munich shows he is an expert at short-term success, and with the spine of this team from the Bavarian club it's easy to feel optimistic about this high-intensity Germany team winning it all next winter. Jonathan Harding

Germany's floor is much higher with Hansi Flick in the fold, in my opinion. There are a lot of interesting teams, but Euro 2020 showed that any team can make a run. Germany has as good a shot as any to reach at least the semifinals, and another finals appearance wouldn't shock me. Davis VanOpdorp

They will be better than at the last World Cup. Other than that, it's very tough to tell really. Though the new broom seems to have lifted the mood it won't have magically resolved the issues mentioned above. I don't have them as winners just yet but minimum quarterfinals, maybe last four. Matt Pearson

Re-live on page two: Germany's win vs. Armenia: 


Armenia 1-4 Germany, Republican Stadium, Yerevan
(Mkhitaryan 59' — Havertz 15', Gündogan pen. 45+3', 50', Hofmann 64')

Full time

That's it, for tonight's game, and Germany's World Cup qualifying campaign. A straightforward win, with the odd touch of sloppiness rather sums up their performance in Group J. Havertz' early goal was well taken and fully deserved while Gündogan's double consisted of a penalty and a goalkeeping gaffe. Hofmann's low strike settled any nerves that may have crept in after Mkhitaryan scored for the spot.

85' - Near miss for Nmecha

Germany's latest stab at finding a productive striker, Lukas Nmecha, is quickly on to a ball down the right channel, but his snap shot flies just wide, with Volland unable to get on the end of it. You feel those two strikers are competing for one World Cup spot at the absolute maximum.

75' - Time for Volland

Kevin Volland enters the fray, as the fringe players continue to get their chance. His last, and only, goal for Germany came five years ago against San Marino. He's not had a lot of minutes since then, but it feels overdue.

64' - Hero to villain

Mkhitaryan gives away the ball with a sloppy pass in his own final third, between the posts, Hofmann is on to it in a flash and restores Germany's three goal cushion with a low finish.

59' - Familiar face gets one back

The referee rules that Terteryan was caught by Neuhaus while receving a pass from Mkhitaryan. The former Borussia Dortmund man, and Armenian talisman cooly waits for ter-Stegen to dive and strokes it home. Armenia had enjoyed a decent spell before that and deserve something. That goal is the catalyst for a triple change from Flick. 

50' - Goalkeeping gaffe gives Germany goal

Oh dear. Stanislav Buchnev has waited until the ripe old age of 31 to make his debut for his country only to drop an absolute clanger. Gündogan's shot from the edge of the bos is a dribbler straight at the keeper but he somehow spills it while failing to get his body behind it and it trickles in for Germany's third.

Second half begins

We're back up and running. Expect plenty of substituions this half and, my prediction, one more Germany goal.

Half time - Double up before the break

Germany regained a little more control towards the end of that half, and after a long VAR review, get their reward. Voskanyan chopped down Neuhaus after a smart one-two and Gündogan casually rolls the penalty to the keeper's left. After that brief Armenian flurry, that looks like game over.

40' - Germany living dangerously

The visitors haven't really capitalized on their early dominance and Armenia are just starting to think they might be able to nick something here. Spertsyan bursts free after an error of judgement from Tah leaves him out of position. But he dwells too long on the ball and a brief 3 on 1 situation slips away. Is this a touch complacent from Flick's side? It'd perhaps be surprising if it wasn't, given the circumstances.

30' - Armenia have a shot!

This is not a test, the hosts have a crack at goal. It flies harmlessly over but Spertsyan had the Germans worried there, just for a second, after some decent buildup play. 

25' - Warning signs from Sane

The Bayern winger has looked lively so far and could have scored twice in the last couple of minutes. First he runs on to a perceptive pass from Gündogan but can't bring it under his spell before bringing a save from the Armenian keeper with a left-footed curler.

15' - Germany lead through Havertz!

What was I just saying? A nice one two on the right sets Hofmann free and Havertz turns in his low cross to open the scoring. Armenia can't get out of their half, and this could be another big score for Germany.

10' - Woodwork!

Germany have started on the front foot and almost took the lead twice in the first five minutes. Müller has a slight brain fade before Havertz rattles the post after some fine work from Sane down the left. It already feels a matter of when, not if.

1' - Kick Off!

And we're up and running in Germany's last game of qualification for World Cup 2022. They're already through, but can Hansi Flick's side put a further gloss on their campaign?

Starting Lineups

Armenia: Buchnev — Voskanya, Calisir, Haroyan, Terteryan — Margaryan, Spertsyan, Udo, Bayramyan — Mkhitaryan — Adamyan

Germany: Ter Stegen — Raum, Tah, Ginter, Kehrer — Neuhaus, Gündogan — Sane, Havertz, Hofmann — Müller

Thomas Müller to captain side

Thomas Müller will wear the armband for the visit to Armenia, as Hansi Flick intends to mix things up for the visit of Albania. 

Manuel Neuer and Marco Reus will be given a rest. In Neuer's case the reason is "load management." That means Marc-Andre ter Stegen and possibly Kai Havertz will start, with the latter returning from suspension.

Leon Goretzka picked up a knock and won't play, with Flick hinting that Ilkay Gündogan and Florian Neuhaus are an option. Beyond the goalkeeper swap, further defensive changes are certain with Antonio Rüdiger suspended and Thilo Kehrer a doubt with a calf injury. 

Niko Süle remains out after contracting COVID-19, with his Bayern Munich teammate Joshua Kimmich isolating.

Flick aims to end year on a high

Hansi Flick is focused on Germany ending a year that saw him take over as coach on a high.

With several key players to be rested or unavailable through injury, Flick will field a team that includes a couple more peripheral players than featured in the 9-0 crushing of Liechtenstein.

"I always consider the team that is there has earned our absolute confidence," said Flick.

"We want to end the international year 2021 with a victory, especially as we have also shown in the last games what mentality and quality our team has."

Germany's Leon Goretzka
Leon Goretzka, who has picked up a knock, is one of several first-choice players unavailableImage: Markus Gilliar/GES/picture alliance

Dead rubber?

Germany had booked their place at Qatar 2022 long before a 9-0 win in front of old boss Joachim Löw added a little gloss to a campaign that has been straightforward enough, despite a shock loss to North Macedonia on Löw's watch.

The campaign isn't mathematically over for their oppoenents just yet, but Armenia require highly unlikely results elsewhere and a minimum 12-goal swing (as well as a win) to have a chance of staying alive. In short, it ain't going to happen.

But for some of the fringe members of Germany's squad, every opportunity counts now, with the likes of Lukas Nmecha, Ridle Baku and Nico Schlotterbeck presumably desperate to impress Hansi Flick.

Likely line-ups

Armenia: Yurchenko — Hambardzumyan, Terteryan, Calisir, Hovhannisyan — Udo, Mkhitaryan — Barseghyan, Zelareyan, Vardanyan — Briasco

Germany: Ter Stegen — Hofmann, Ginter, Tah, Günter — Neuhaus, Gündogan — Baku, Havertz, Sane — Müller