Monday 5 July 2021
Where did all the strikers go?
Flick’s huge problem in Germany
At Bayern Munich, Thomas Muller was one of the most important players of coach Hansi Flick. The megaphone was not noticed at the European Championship. It was also because there was no real striker, a problem that would remain. Coach legend Arsene Wenger has doubts about German coaching of young talent.
Even Hansi Flick will not be able to remove this basic problem with the touch of his finger. Does not work without goals from the striker! The current European Football Championship proves this once again conclusively. And it was not only Germany, the former striker, who was ahead in the early Round of 16 against England. Looking at the upcoming World Cup in Qatar in November 2022, it doesn’t look good either. The most dangerous striker in Joachim Loew’s 26-man squad was twice-scorer Kai Havertz – an attacking midfielder, not a stormy edge.
Oliver Bierhoff, Germany’s top scorer in winning the European Championship 25 years ago in the Wembley final against the Czech Republic, has once again tackled the issue as manager of the national team. The 53-year-old has long lost his successor. “Killer instinct is missing,” Bierhoff said the day after the 2-0 draw against England when he had to draw the next disappointing championship summary with Löw. “Sometimes we don’t have any players in the penalty area,” said Bierhoff, which is one of the reasons Germany fell into the mediocre.
Wenger issues a strict ruling
Former Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger sees it this way. In “Kicker” he names the German storm as his main weakness. “In the past, the national team always had great strikers such as Gerd Muller, Uwe Seeler, Horst Hrobsch, Klaus Fischer, Jürgen Klinsmann and Oliver Bierhoff… That is no longer the case today,” the 71-year-old said. “Who is playing in the storm at the two big German clubs? Erling Haaland and Robert Lewandowski.”
Wenger’s verdict is devastating: “Germany have to ask themselves whether the youth work was really right when you once had a lot of good strikers and now it’s not.” It looks different with other countries. England have Harry Kane (3 EM goals) as a target player in the attacking position, Italy Ciro Immobile (2), Spain Alvaro Morata (2). The Danes, along with the Big Three, the fourth semi-finalist in EM, could put Kasper Dolberg (3) or Leipzig’s Joseph Poulsen (2) in the lead. Beyond Germany, other countries came with scissors at the fore; The Czechs with Patrik Schick (5) Leverkusen player, the Belgian with the breaker Romelu Lukaku (4) or the Switzerland with Frankfurt ex-Harris Seferovic who scored three times.
The German group were the opponents of Portugal with Cristiano Ronaldo (5 goals) and France with Karim Benzema (4), who also failed in the round of 16, and they had at least two successful strikers in their team.
Bierhoff requires time
“We have to improve in one situation or another. We have to tackle that,” said Bierhoff, who does not see the union only as a challenge. “This is where German football should cooperate.” The German Football Association has already begun to tackle the striker’s problem in youth work. But Bierhoff knows that such processes take time: “These are procedures that do not take place overnight.”
Flick lived in heaven as head coach at Bayern Munich for a year and a half. There he had Robert Lewandowski, currently the best striker in the world. Pole was almost a property guarantee of Flick. Bayern’s scheme as blueprint – it won’t continue to be that simple for the 56-year-old title collector Flick in the DFB service.
The problem of turning in the attack for the national team is not a problem that came out of nowhere. Mats Hummels named her after the semi-finals at EM 2016 against hosts France. When the defender suspended at the time after the 2-0 draw in Marseille was asked what was missing, Hummels replied: “Above all, there was someone missing to take the ball.” By the way: the winner of the France match five years ago was Antoine Griezmann for sure. Manuel Neuer was defeated twice. Griezmann’s position on the attack.
The chase is underway
Germany, the country of top strikers like Ue Seeler, Gerd Muller, Jürgen Klinsmann, Rudi Voller or Bierhoff, has been searching for a classic scorer since top scorer Miroslav Klose retired after winning the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. “We’ve been dealing with this for a long time. These are the trends that I haven’t addressed in just six months,” said Bierhoff, who is also in charge of the union’s youth teams.
For years, Löw has been in good standing for made-in-Spain football, both for the Spanish national team and for the Barcelona team. So the wrong nine also became a model for choosing DFB. Mario Gotze embodied this role in Löw’s DFB universe, and sometimes also Marco Reus. Gotze named Germany and Löw the world title in 2014, which has had a lasting impact.
Flick will have to improvise when he starts out as a national coach. For example with Serge Gnabry who attacked him on the flank in Munich. He can also count on Timo Werner, who once started strong by scoring goals in the national shirt as a striker, but somehow lost his way. In addition, a perspective player such as Lukas Nmecha (22) can come in. The 1.85-meter-tall striker from Manchester City, who was recently loaned to RSC Anderlecht, became the European champion this summer with Germany’s U21 team.