For these two very great nations of world football, it’s a disaster. The case of Germany, already eliminated in the first round in 2018, particularly concerns me because, with Brazil, it is one of the flagship countries, a legend of the World Cups: four titles and eight finals disputed.
What happened in Qatar is extremely rare in the history of the German team, renowned, rigorous, cold, clinical, realistic, and which, it is well known, always ends up winning. We paid dearly for it in the past (1982-1986) with two eliminations in the semi-finals of the World Cup by the Mannschaft.
At all times, Germany has had exceptional players, world-class stars: Beckenbauer, Müller, Rummenigge, Matthaüs, Klose… There is a sidereal void. There is no longer a great player, an exceptional executive in this team. Certainly, we can mention Thomas Müller but he is aging. Of course, we can also talk about the goalkeeper, Manuel Neuer, a phenomenon. At 36, he no longer has the same level and is coming back from a very serious illness, cancer. Seeing him play was already a huge feat. Hard to ask for more.
A long decline
For eight years, Brazil, its title, the consecration of a generation, everything has been a long decline. The defense, Germany’s traditional strong point, is cardboard. Since Klose, the team no longer has a center forward worthy of the name. They pay for the choices of a conservative coach, Joachim Low, who stayed in place for 10 years, always calling the same group, never questioning himself. It pays cash today.
Now we have to bounce back. And quick. Because Euro 2024 takes place in Germany. Not sure that this will be done with Hansi Flick, the coach, who wants to stay but who suffered a bitter failure. Germany must above all relearn how to scare, to start the match with a psychological advantage because it is Germany, the steamroller, the winning machine. This is no longer the case today.
The end of a generation
Let’s also talk about Belgium, FIFA number one for 3 years, semi-finalist in Russia. Here, we are at the end of the journey for a generation of exceptional players (Hazard, Debruyne, Lukaku, Courtois) who compete too much. Thomas Meunier said it after the match: “The coach did his job. We players are responsible. It’s not a question of level. We didn’t take care of ourselves enough.”
Apart from Kevin De Bruyne, the stars of the team were not there. Take Eden Hazard. He returns too late, running out of physical condition. Take Lukaku. His ideal weight is 100 kg. Wednesday, at the weigh-in he was 114 kilos. Admittedly, he is coming back from a long injury and is still recovering. But I am convinced that with his weight of form, he materialized at least one of his four enormous chances and that Belgium would still be in the race.
An image marked me on Wednesday, at the end of the match: Lukaku, in tears, in the arms of Thierry Henry. Red Devils coach Roberto Martinez has resigned. So why not Thierry Henry as the new coach. That would suck.