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Football: The state of Germany one year ahead of EURO 2024

Olivia Gerstenberger
June 14, 2023

The 2024 European Championship is set to kick off in Germany a year from now. The situation is quite different than the 2006 World Cup, the last time Germany hosted a major tournament.

Germany's team photo ahead of their international friendly against Ukraine
Germany have a lot of work to do before EURO 2024Image: Anke Waelischmiller/SVEN SIMON/picture alliance

What are Germany's biggest problem areas?

Ongoing issues resurfaced in Germany's 3-3 draw with Ukraine on Monday, the 1,000th game in the history of the men's national football team. There were several mistakes, lost challenges and gifted goals, while the players struggled to find their confidence.

The most significant problem area is the defense, a persistent weakness. Germany's defenders are just as unable to cope with counterattacks and long balls over the top as they were during the 2022 World Cup in Qatar and their 3-2 loss against Belgium in their last international friendly. These issues have stemmed from players making shocking individual mistakes.

Going forward things haven't been much smoother. Against a well-organized Ukrainian defense, Hansi Flick's charges were awkward and rarely created clear-cut chances. On top of that was just a general lack of effective finishing.

A broader problem is that the squad is not as well stocked in defense and lack a world class No9 that other top football nations boast. But even in a midfield considered to be of high quality, something isn't clicking. Against Ukraine, head coach Flick relied on Leon Goretzka, Joshua Kimmich and Julian Brandt in midfield, but they failed to provide consistent penetration.

Flick has yet to find a system and the right players as he continues to carry the burden of Germany's group-stage exit at the Qatar World Cup. The team needs more structure, self-confidence and an absolute will to win.

Ukraininan national team players celebrating behind German midfielder Leon Goretzka
Germany's mistakes led to Ukraine scoring easy goalsImage: Federico Gambarini/dpa/picture alliance

This is also reflected publicly as the national team's performances aren't getting anyone emotionally invested — if anything, quite the opposite. Germany are, therefore, well away from an elite level and there is no sign of any European Championship euphoria at home.

"Football is and remains based on results, and we have to get a grip on the results as quickly as possible," said Kimmich, Germany's captain, on Monday. "We need victories."

What is working well for Germany?

Flick announced after the World Cup that he wanted to change some personnel. He has already given some new faces a chance to prove themselves, but with no structure, no one can feel assured of their spot in the team. The positive is that Flick still has a whole year to tinker with his system and find the right players for it.

German striker Niklas Füllkrug standing mouth agape with his left arm outstretched
Niclas Füllkrug has been Germany's lone bright spot in recent monthsImage: Anke Waelischmiller/SVEN SIMON/picture alliance

A small bright spot is striker Niclas Füllkrug, who has regularly put in good performances and scored goals. His opener against Ukraine put him in an elite group of German internationals who have scored in five consecutive games. If he scores in Germany's next game in Poland, he would become the first German national team player to register in six consecutive games.

Young talents like Florian Wirtz, who recently recovered from a knee injury, and Jamal Musiala also provide potential for improvement. And while Bayern Munich players recover from a humbling season and Borussia Dortmund's German internationals digest their missed chance at a Bundesliga title, Ilkay Gündogan can provide some necessary confidence as a freshly minted treble winner with Manchester City.

What have Germany coaches and executives said?

One year ahead of EURO 2024, National team coach Flick appears to be feeling the effects of the lousy mood surrounding the national team. Nonetheless, he wants to stick to his plan.

"These are mechanisms that need games and training. We will work on that," Flick said after Monday's draw with Ukraine. "We have a few players who came in with tremendous confidence."

Flick has drawn parallels to the 2006 World Cup, which also took place in Germany. "In March 2006, we lost 4-1 to Italy and there was an incredibly negative atmosphere. But it still became a summer fairy tale," he said, referencing the Sommermärchen nickname that was associated with Germany's semifinal run at their home tournament.

Flick has received the backing of Germany sporting director Rudi Völler.

"There is still a year to go until the European Championship in our own country, and it is absolutely right that Hansi Flick uses it to try something out as well," Völler said. "Regardless of the system, the most important thing is that we must be more uncompromising and focused in challenges."

National team coach Hansi Flick stand in training among his coaching staff
National team coach Hansi Flick still has a year to figure out his systemImage: Jürgen Kessler/dpa/picture alliance

What is Germany's path forward to EURO 2024?

Two international friendlies remain in June, and three are planned in September and October. The Germany squad only has a short break before an even tougher test: facing Poland in Warsaw on Friday. Four days later, the Germans will host Colombia in Gelsenkirchen to end the football season.

Germany then have a rematch with Japan, who defeated them in their opening World Cup match in Qatar, in Wolfsburg on September 9. Three days after that, they face World Cup runners-up France in Dortmund. In October, Flick's squad will head across the Atlantic to play the United States in Hartford, Connecticut.

Germany has yet to decide on where their main headquarters will be for EURO 2024. The national team was mainly based in Herzogenaurach, a German town near Nuremberg in southern Germany, during EURO 2020.

In November, 21 of the 24 participating nations for EURO 2024 will be determined. The last three entrants will be determined in a qualification playoff in March 2024. The group stage draw is set to take place on December 2, with Germany being put in Group A automatically as the hosting nation. The German national team's three group-stage games will take place on June 14, 2024 in Munich (the tournament's opening game), June 19 in Stuttgart and June 23 in Frankfurt.

This article was adapted from German.