Löw says goodbye as Germany set new record under Hansi Flick
Germany 9-0 Liechtenstein Volkswagen Arena
(Gündogan pen. 11', Kaufmann o.g. 20', Sane 22', 49', Reus 23', Müller 76', 86', Baku 80', Göppel o.g. 89')
This was the goodbye that should have come years ago. Perhaps it was fitting though, that Germany finally gave Joachim Löw his send off on the night Hansi Flick made the most successful start to a Germany head coach’s career.
Flick’s sixth win in his sixth game came a lot easier than in his first, when the teams last met. A red card for Jens Hofer, who accidentally booted Leon Goretzka in the neck, set up a long night for Liechtenstein who crumbled after three goals in three minutes.
Germany emphatically dismantled their opponents, barraging Liechtenstein’s goal with a total of 39 shots. This was not an evening for grand conclusions, but it was one where Germany had a lot of fun and that very much appears to be the vibe for this team under their new head coach.
"Hansi [Flick] is the best coach this team could have," Löw told RTL before kickoff. The real truth of that statement will come next winter, but there’s no denying that Flick has restored a team that, six months ago, was bereft of ideas and confidence.
"It feels like there’s great cohesion in the team," Germany fan Sophie told DW even before kickoff. "It looks like they’re having more fun playing football again."
Löw must have had some fun watching on, but it must also have been a bit odd too. Despite admitting he was feeling better now after needing space away from football to work through the last tournament, being in the stands and not on the sideline watching a team you struggled to get going clearly in a much better place must have been an unusual perhaps even a bit uncomfortable feeling.
Then again, after 15 years and one World Cup, perhaps it wasn’t. As he walked through a guard of honor provided by a host of former players, including Lukas Podolski, Per Mertesacker and Sami Khedira, Löw wore the smile of a contended man.
The crowd applauded and a few chants of "Jogi" rang out. He clapped and smiled as Marco Reus tapped in and as he sat there in his red rollneck watching Germany score goal after goal, Löw’s transformation from lingering coach to former legend was finally complete.
"Jogi is a great guy, and I think all players who played under him can confirm that," Thomas Müller told RTL after the game.
"I’m grateful," Marco Reus added. "I think 90% of the players here today debuted under him, so he has played a huge role in their development. He's a great person. We had our ups and downs but I think tonight was a nice send off for him."
Germany’s transformation under Flick is well underway. Leroy Sane, who never could establish himself in the national team under Löw, has evolved his game under the new Germany coach. His two goals against Liechtenstein now give him four in six games under Flick.
"You can see the ease is back with him and the way he plays football is just fun to watch," Flick said of Sane. "He does a lot of work against the ball. He’s developed incredibly."
Lukas Nmecha, who was unfortunate not to get on the scoresheet, becoming the fourth debutant under the new head coach is proof of a man who knows he must explore every option in the little time he has before the World Cup next year. This week, COVID-19 has forced him to look even further.
Bigger challenges await, but to use Löw's own words, Flick is the best coach this team could have right now and on a night that was mostly about Germany’s past this was perhaps a reminder that their future looks pretty good too.
Relive the action on page 2
90' Final: Germany 9-0 Liechtenstein
Hansi Flick becomes the first Germany coach to win his first six games. The result is their biggest since 2006, when they beat San Marino 13-0.
89' GOAL! Germany 9-0 Liechtenstein (Göppel own goal)
When chipping the keeper is a bad thing! Trying to clear the ball from his own penalty area, Liechtenstein defender Max Göppel lobbed the ball over goalkeeper Benjamin Büchel.
86' Thomas Müller ties Michael Ballack with 42 Germany goals
8-0 for Germany and two goals for Müller — and what a goal it is.
With that strike, the Bayern Munich forward draws level with Michael Ballack for seventh all-time on Germany's all-time scoring list. Müller's next target is Uwe Seeler, who sits sixth all time with 43 goals.
80' GOAL! Germany 7-0 Liechtenstein (Baku)
What a way to score your first international goal! From the right side of the penalty area, Baku curled a shot with his weaker left foot into the top left corner.
Like Arnold and Volland, Baku was brought in after multiple players had to quarantine following Niklas Süle's positive COVID-19 test. He is seen as a candidate to become Germany's long-term solution at right-back.
77' GOAL! Germany 6-0 Liechtenstein (Müller)
Thomas Müller now gets in on the fun! He was perfectly placed to tap in a headed shot from Florian Neuhaus off of a corner routine.
The goal is Müller's 41st of his career, one behind Michael Ballack and two behind Uwe Seeler on Germany's all-time scorers list.
64' Maxi Arnold receives first cap since 2014
Hansi Flick makes two more changes, taking off goalscorers Ilkay Gündogan and Leroy Sane and replacing them with Maximilian Arnold and Kevin Volland.
Both Arnold and Volland were brought into the squad as replacements for the four players who had to quarantine after Niklas Süle's positive test.
For Arnold, this is just his second appearance for the German national team. His first was a 14 minute cameo in a friendly against Poland as part of Germany's preparations for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
Arnold won the under-21 European Championship with Germany in 2017, but never received a chance with the senior team. But he is an experienced Bundesliga midfielder who could break Wolfsburg's club record for appearances this season — he is 25 games off Olaf Ansorge's mark of 351 matches.
49' GOAL! Germany 5-0 Liechtenstein (Sane)
Leroy Sane gets on the score sheet again, his 11th Germany goal and his first two-goal game with the national team.
He now has four goals and an assist since Hansi Flick took the helm. Though his role in the national team has looked tenuous at times, Sane now appears to be one of the first names on the team sheet.
Sane is having a strong season for Bayern Munich as well in his second season back in Germany. He has eight goals and 10 assists for the Bavarians in 18 games in all competitions.
46' Lukas Nmecha makes Germany debut
With the game in hand, Hansi Flick has brought on Lukas Nmecha and Florian Neuhaus for Jonas Hofmann and Leon Goretzka respectively. Nmecha appears to be up top as Wolfsburg teammate Ridle Baku appears to have replaced Hofmann in Germany's defense.
For Nmecha, who won the under-21 European Championship with Germany in June, it is his first cap with the senior squad. He scored 12 goals in 20 games at the U-21 level under coach Stefan Kuntz.
The 22-year-old forward returned to Wolfsburg on a permanent transfer from Manchester City. He has six goals in 15 appearances in all competitions thus far for the Wolves and could finally fill the void up top for Germany.
45' Halftime! Germany 4-0 Liechtenstein
The statistics tell the whole story:
- Shots: Germany 17, Liechtenstein 1
- Possession: Germany 84%, Liechtenstein 16%
- Passing success: Germany 88%, Liechtenstein 56%
- Corners: Germany 6, Liechtenstein 0
40' Shot for Liechtenstein!
Aron Sele challenges Manuel Neuer with a shot from the right side of the penalty area, Liechtenstein's first shot of the game.
Sele plays for Chur 97 in the fifth tier of Swiss football. Chur, located in the Alps, was where the first snowboard big air event of the winter sports season took place.
29' Early substitution from Liechtenstein
Yanik Frick comes off in favor of Fabio Wolfinger as head coach Martin Stocklasa tries to gain control of the game.
That seems a tall task with 10 men. Germany have out-passed Liechtenstein thus far 241 to 22.
Frick did not look happy coming off, refusing a handshake from Stocklasa before going to the bench.
23' GOAL! 4-0 Germany (Reus)
This is going to be a long night. Leroy Sane receives a ball over the top in the box before Liechtenstein goalkeeper Benjamin Büchel deflects it away. Reus picks up the rebound and taps it into an open net.
That's three goals in five minutes for the Germans.
22' GOAL! 3-0 Germany (Sane)
And another one. Leon Goretzka, not feeling the affects of his collision with Jens Hofer earlier, plays Leroy Sane in before the Bayern Munich winger finds the back of the net.
That's three goals and one assist now from Sane for Germany since Hansi Flick took the helm.
20' GOAL! 2-0 Germany (Kaufmann own goal)
Oh boy. As if things couldn't get worse for Liechtenstein. Daniel Kaufmann attempted to clear a Leroy Sane cross from the left out for a corner, but he hit it into the back of the net instead.
10' GOAL! 1-0 Germany (Gündogan)
Ilkay Gündogan convernts from the spot to open the scoring.
The goal is Gündogan's fourth for Germany in 2021, the most goals he's ever had for the national team in a calendar year.
9' Penalty for Germany, red card for Liechtenstein
Liechtenstein defender Jens Hofer struck Leon Goretzka near his throat in the penalty area. Hofer was sent off for the incident and escorted Goretzka off the pitch.
For a team already with long odds to get a result, Liechtenstein will be hard pressed to contain Germany with 10 men.
Goretzka later returned to the field with red marks on his neck and blood on his shirt.
4' Liechtenstein parking the bus
As expected, the small European nation is not taking any chances with Germany. Forwards Yanik Frick and Dennis Salanovic are defending about 15 meters outside their own penalty area. German defenders Thilo Kehrer and Antonio Rüdiger are playing essentially as midfielders as a result.
Liechtenstein have just one point in eight World Cup qualifiers entering the game, scoring just two goals. Their last international win came against San Marino in September 2020 during Nations League play.
Germany's last home World Cup qualifier is underway in Wolfsburg.
Ivana Martincic is making history tonight, becoming the first woman referee to officiate a German national team game.
Joachim Löw honored pregame
Former German national team coach Joachim Löw was honored before kickoff.
His reception included shaking hands with several his former players including Benedikt Höwedes, Julian Draxler, Mario Gomez, Mats Hummels, Sami Khedira, Per Mertesacker and Lukas Podolski. The crowd could be heard chanting Löw's "Jogi! Jogi!"
Ahead of the ceremony, Löw told German broadcaster RTL that he is leaving his coaching career open.
"One normally takes a half a year to process things," he told German broadcaster RTL. "But the interest is coming back and the motivation as well."
Löw spent 17 years with the national team, 15 as coach, before stepping down after a last 16 exit from Euro 2020.
Does Liechtenstein stand a chance against Germany?
Odds from Goal Impact, a football performance monitoring and scouting service, would suggest no.
The matchup certainly gives critics of the current World Cup qualifying system in Europe some fodder.
Ridle Baku makes third career start
Ridle Baku was called into the national team with four players needing to quarantine after Niklas Süle's positive COVID-19 test. The Wolfsburg forward has made his mark in the Bundesliga over the past two seasons, scoring 10 goals and assisting eight more in 51 games.
Though he's played in defense and on the left wing for Wolfsburg, he appears to be staring on the right. Leroy Sane, who has rediscovered his Manchester City form in recent weeks, starts opposite Baku on the left.
Germany: Neuer — Günter, Rüdiger, Kehrer, Hofmann — Goretzka, Gündogan — Sane, Reus, Baku — Müller
Liechtenstein: Büchel — Göppel, Hofer, Kaufmann, Malin, Wolfinger — Hasler, Frommelt, Sele — Frick, Salanovic
Have Germany qualified for the World Cup yet?
Yes. With eight of 10 matches played, Germany lead Group J with 21 points, eight clear of second-place Romania, and secured qualification for the World Cup in Qatar with a 4-0 win away at North Macedonia last time out.
But while Hansi Flick's side have nothing left to play for against bottom club Liechtenstein, second place in the group is still up for grabs, with Romania, North Macedonia and Germany's next opponents Armenia still in with a theoretical chance of making the playoff round.
COVID-19 infection in the Germany squad
The German FA (DFB) revealed on Tuesday that Germany defender Niklas Süle had tested positive for COVID-19 and will go into quarantine along with four of the eight teammates with whom he flew to the team's training camp in Wolfsburg: Süle's Bayern Munich teammates Joshua Kimmich, Serge Gnabry and Jamal Musiala, plus Red Bull Salzburg's Karim Adeyemi.
The other four, who have not been named by the DFB, have been allowed to remain with the national team under "special supervision," eating at an isolated table and being tested regularly.
Whether the division of Süle's travel group is due to one quartet being vaccinated and the other not, is as yet unclear, but Hansi Flick told a press conference that, in his opinion, "the quickest way out of the pandemic is to get vaccinated."
Who is replacing Süle and the others?
With Süle, Kimmich, Gnabry, Musiala and Adeyemi in quarantine and set to miss both games, Flick has called up Jonathan Tah (Bayer Leverkusen), Kevin Volland (Monaco), Maximilian Arnold and Ridle Baku (both Wolfsburg).
"We'll have a completely different lineup, but we're still well prepared and the aim is to finish the group with a total of 27 points," said Flick.
Who else is missing?
Paris Saint-Germain forward Julian Draxler has also had to pull out of the squad after picking up an unspecified muscle injury in his right leg in training on Tuesday.
Bayer Leverkusen starlet Florian Wirtz and Freiburg's Nico Schlotterbeck are also injured.
"We'd imagined things a little differently," said Flick. "We're glad we already qualified in October."
Farewell, Joachim Löw
Thursday's game will also act as a farewell to Joachim Löw, who stepped down as German national team coach after Euro 2020.
Löw spent 17 years with the national team, 15 years as head coach, leading Germany to a World Cup title in 2014 and Confederations Cup in 2017.
"The game is a chance to say farewell to Joachim Löw and it will be a special game for all those who played under him," Flick said. "An opportunity for us all to express our thanks and recognition."