AL KHOR, Qatar (AP) — Back-to-back early exits at the World Cup finals Germany coach Hansi Flick made him want to go back to basics.
The four-time champions were again eliminated in the group stage, four years after their embarrassing showing as defending champions in Russia.
Something had to change, said Flick after the 4-2 win over Costa Rica on Thursday, but that it was not enough to secure a place in the round of 16.
“I think for the future of German football we need to do things differently in training,” said Flick, who took over as coach after last year’s European Championships. “For years we’ve been talking about new goalkeepers and full-backs, but Germany have always been able to defend well. We need the basics.
“For the future, for the next 10 years, it is very important to focus on the new generation of players.”
Just eight years ago, Germany won its fourth World Cup title, by defeating Argentina, led by Lionel Messi, at the height of his participation in the final match at the Maracana Stadium. With this victory, Germany became the only European team to win the World Cup in North and South America.
In Qatar, it was an opening loss to Japan that set the stage for a disappointing finish this time around. Germany lost 2-1 in that match last week, and followed it up with a 1-1 draw with Spain.
That gave the Germans a chance in their final game at Al Bayt Stadium, and that was enough for a few minutes during Thursday’s simultaneous final group matches. In the first half, for example, Germany was beating Costa Rica and Japan was losing to Spain – results that would have put the Germans into the last 16.
Japan’s victory was 2-1 against the Spaniards That essentially cost the Germans the chance to play at least one more match in Qatar.
Flick cited Spain as an example for his country to follow.
“Spain is very good on defense,” he said, despite the 2010 World Cup champions eventually losing to Japan at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha. Focuses on training young players. They know the tactics very well.
It all started well for Germany on Thursday with a Serge Gnabry header in the 10th minute and Spain taking an early lead against Japan.
Both matches were turned on their head in the second half.
Yeltsin Tejeda equalized in the 58th minute and Juan Vargas fired again in the 70th minute, putting Costa Rica up 2-1 and suddenly on goal to take the lead.
“There were a lot of individual mistakes and these are things that make me very angry,” said Flick.
But German substitute Kai Havertz made it 2-2 in the 73rd minute, then restored Germany’s lead in the 85th minute. Substitute Niklas Volkrug added the fourth.
Costa Rica lost their opening match to Spain 7-0. Then the team put in a much better display and beat Japan 1-0.
“We are not what we saw in our first match,” said Costa Rica coach Luis Fernando Suarez. “We had to get back to what got us through to the World Cup.”
The match was also notable because the French referee, Stephanie Frappart She became the first woman to officiate a men’s World Cup match.
Manuel Neuer played in his 19th World Cup match to set a record for a goalkeeper – besting Germany’s Sepp Maier and Brazil’s Claudio Taffarel.
Matthias Ginter was appearing in his third World Cup final, but coming into the match against Costa Rica he hadn’t played a single minute in either of those tournaments. That all changed when he came on as a substitute in the 89th minute.
James Robson is at https://twitter.com/jamesalanrobson
AP World Cup coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/world-cup and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
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