Germany finished a difficult September international break with their first win of the post-Hansi Flick era with a 2-1 success over France in a friendly victory in Dortmund on Tuesday. Die Mannschaft suffered a chastening 4-1 home loss to Japan in Wolfsburg just days before Les Bleus' visit to Signal Iduna Park which was enough to end Hansi Flick's tenure.
The former Bayern Munich boss became the first German head coach in the history of the position to be sacked after a run of four defeats from five winless games heading into the France win. That after a disastrous 2022 World Cup campaign which ended in a group stage exit behind Spain and the Japanese who have beaten the Germans twice in a calendar year.
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Factor in that they exited the 2018 World Cup at the same point and that a round of 16 showing in UEFA Euro 2020 was not much better and it is clear that the Nationalelf are in poor health. Germany are a difficult national team to judge in terms of their current international level given that they are next summer's Euro 2024 hosts so they qualify automatically.
However, despite the fact that they will not play another competitive game before they kick next year's tournament off, the past 12 months also encompassed a below-par UEFA Nations League. The prospect of humiliation on home soil is very real and it is enough to already have a number of popular German soccer figures worried about the state of the sport in the country.
Do not forget that the women's team also bombed out of this summer's Women's World Cup in the group stage, so things are not rosy across the board. Legendary former Germany and Bayern Munich captain Philipp Lahm went as far as to say that his country has "lost its way" recently with no discernible identity.
"I do not know who has the responsibility, currently," said the 39-year-old to DW. "Who is the face of the team? Who forms the core? Who are the key identifying players in this team? Every successful Germany team had a core, which still needs to be formed now. There is still enough time. I think what has been missed in the last few years is focusing on the basics -- just on soccer.
"We have lost our way a bit and need to play catch-up now. I believe we have the quality in our squad. We have good players who are experienced enough to play successful soccer. It is about being a collective, and you need to form that. I hope we can achieve that in the short time left. We will not be among the favorites because we were knocked out of the group stage at the last two World Cups and between that in the last 16 of the Euros."
Thomas Muller and Leroy Sane scoring in the 2-1 win over France has shown that there is still hope for Germany moving forward. With Flick gone, the obvious question is now who the German Soccer Federation (DFB) look to next with Austria national team boss Ralf Rangnick already self-ruled out and some other touted names like Mathias Sammer out of management for nearly 20 years.
Liverpool's Jurgen Klopp and Bayern's Thomas Tuchel are two of the leading German bosses at present while highly-rated young tactician Julian Nagelsmann is yet to return to work after his Bavarian stint ended. However, there is precious little time with no competitive games for anybody to prepare which suggests that a temporary solution might be necessary.
Lahm has suggested former Bayern boss Louis van Gaal who recently led the Netherlands to the 2022 World Cup and saved Oranje after Frank de Boer's short-lived spell. The charismatic Dutchman might not be a long-term pick but certainly has the credentials to aid the Euro hosts.
"As a coach, Louis van Gaal stands for discipline, order and structure in the way his teams play," Lahm told Bild.
"He always conveys this through a very clear speech. At Bayern, he was the right man who shaped the club at the right time with his philosophy. He has a strong personality with a lot of experience. Which he has gained in top international football as a club and national team coach."
Should Van Gaal even be considered, he could potentially step in to lead a respectable effort on home soil which looked unthinkable even before kick off against France. That way, the leg work could be put into discussing with either Klopp, Tuchel or another candidate with a view to the 2026 World Cup cycle instead of being thrown into a difficult Euro on home soil.
It was only a friendly result but Germany's first competitive men's win over France in nine years is proof that not all is lost just yet and that these current players can still perform together. Perhaps Lahm is right and the Nationalelf simply need to go back to basics with an old-school coach in the short term before trying fresh ideas in the long term.