There is a sense of the unknown surrounding the Germany national team ahead of the World Cup in Qatar. Their results of late have been rather unpredictable, with a 5-2 win over European champions Italy back in June followed by a 1-0 defeat to Hungary and a 3-3 draw with England last month.
A lack of consistency was the common theme during Germany’s Nations League campaign, where that 5-2 victory over the Azzurri was their only win in six games — with four draws and one defeat leaving them third in the table behind Hungary and Italy.
Die Mannschaft looked refreshed when Hansi Flick first took over from the 2014 World Cup-winning Joachim Löw just over 12 months ago, winning nine of their 10 World Cup qualifiers while scoring 36 and conceding just four in the process.
But after that Nations League campaign, it’s hard to really know what to expect from the Germans as they head in to their first major tournament under the former Bayern Munich manager.
There have been flashes of brilliance from the side, who are the sixth favourites to win the competition if you’re looking to bet on World Cup 2022 with Paddy Power. But they have been few and far between of late and the unpredictability of the German’s is a concern given the toughness of their group.
Flick’s side have been drawn in Group E with European counterparts Spain, Japan and Costa Rica — which has deservedly been branded the ‘Group of Death’. So, there is no room for error should they want progress to the latter stages of the campaign.
Getting out of the group should still be no issue given the quality that Germany possess, but it’s whether they can top it over Spain and get an easier pathway through the knockouts or finish second and have their work cut out for them with a likely round of 16 clash against Belgium — who look set to top Group F.
One way or another, it seems unlikely that Germany are going to win the World Cup no matter what the case. Kai Havertz arguably proved he can lead the line in the false No.9 position in that 3-3 draw against England at Wembley, scoring an absolute beauty from distance before bagging the leveller later on. But he doesn’t do it often enough to be a real goalscoring threat.
For all the quality this side has, they have lacked a bit of creation of late. In the 1-0 loss against Hungary, they registered just three meaningful attempts on goals and even in that thriller against England they only recorded four shots on target — İlkay Gündoğan’s penalty, Kai Havert’s two goals and the Serge Gnabry attempt from distance that was spilled by Nick Pope to the Chelsea man’s feet for his second.
There is certainly a lot for Flick to think about in the next five weeks or so. His side have won just one of their last six games and that is not the kind of form you want going into a World Cup — where momentum is everything. And the problem is, even if they are to top Group E and get past the runners up of F — which will likely be Croatia — they will probably face Brazil in the quarter finals and you wouldn’t bet on a repeat of that 7-1 thrashing from 2014.
Their status as sixth favourites in the World Cup predictions for football is arguably a fair reflection of their chances in Qatar. Anything more than the quarters and they will have exceeded the expectations of most.