WOLFSBURG, Germany (Reuters) – Coach Hansi Flick promised Germany would show a new playing style with the intensity level kept high when they face Japan in a friendly international on Saturday even though the four-time world champions have been struggling for form.
With eight months before Germany host the Euro 2024, Flick knows that any slip-ups in their two matches against Japan and France on Tuesday could put his job at risk, with his team still a way from being tournament-worthy.
They have won just one of their last five matches since their shock World Cup group stage exit in December.
The three-time European champions, who have now been eliminated in the first round of the last two World Cups, have also won only three of their last 11 games.
“It’s about learning from the past,” Flick told a press conference on Friday. “We learned from the World Cup. Then we said we wanted to test and since June that is finished.
“Now we have a game philosophy and we have tried to pass it on to the team. We want to see the intensity kept high, and we hope for a good game from which we can gain confidence. That is the key thing.
“We have changed a lot things. We tried to pass it on to the team. We are convinced and satisfied with how the team applied it.”
Flick also named Ilkay Gundogan as the team’s new captain hoping the experienced midfielder will help successfully lead a younger general of players.
The coach has long used up all the early credit after an eight-game winning start when he took over back in 2021. The 58-year-old has had to face boos and jeers following their loss in June to Colombia.
“After the World Cup I have hardly read anything (in the media) and that is something that is good for me,” Flick said when asked how he dealt with the criticism.
“In football there are dynamics that you sometimes cannot expect. I enjoy coaching the team and I am truly thankful for that.
“It is about preparing the team well and in the end sometimes you may not have the success you expect. That is currently our situation. We all know that the matches tomorrow and against France are very important,” he added.
(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; Editing by Christian Radnedge)