DORTMUND (Germany): Despite responding to coach Hansi Flick’s sacking with a 2-1 victory over neighbours France in Dortmund on Tuesday, pressing questions remain for Euro 2024 hosts Germany.
Usually a bitter rivalry between two of Europe’s proudest footballing nations with six World Cups and five European Championships between them, France did not bring their usual intensity to Tuesday’s friendly.
Manager Didier Deschamps made six changes from their last outing, a 2-0 win over Ireland, including benching star striker Kylian Mbappe.
With France trailing 1-0 for most of the second half, Deschamps left Mbappe on the bench as his side chased the game, the manager later revealing “we didn’t want to risk him in this game”.
The France manager admitted his changes were made with the future in mind, including leading the line with Randal Kolo Muani who “hasn’t played for a while, hasn’t trained (and) isn’t in top form right now”.
Calling Flick’s caretaker successor Rudi Voeller a “unique and rare coach”, Deschamps congratulated his “old friend”, telling reporters “I’m not happy we lost, but nevertheless I’m happy for him.”
Immediately after the game, interim coach Voeller described the win, Germany’s first since March and only the second since the disappointing group stage exit at the Qatar World Cup, as an “emotional release”.
“What I liked most was that we brought good energy onto the field”, telling the post-match press conference “it’s not just about the result, but the style and manner of the performance”.
Veteran Germany striker Thomas Mueller, who was named in the starting XI for the first time since Qatar, scored after just four minutes.
The 2014 World Cup winner said the win was an “emotional liberation” for his side, but told German TV “it was fun, but we don’t need to overstate it -- we still have a long way to go”.
First point of call for Germany will be to find a manager, with interim boss Voeller reaffirming his commitment to step down as coach after the game.
Voeller, who last coached at any level in 2005, again shut down speculation he may stay in the top job, saying after the match “ideally we’ll have it done before the next international break” while revealing hiring a German speaker was a priority.
Voeller said he had spoken with Flick before the match and was full of praise for his predecessor, particularly for selecting Brighton’s Pascal Gross, who made his debut in Germany colours at the age of 32.
Gross came on midway through the first half due to an injury to captain Ilkay Gundogan and Voeller said “he had a wonderful game”.
“It was his idea and a wonderful decision to invite Pascal Gross, who many didn’t know at all.”
Germany, who qualified for Euro 2024 as hosts, will not play until fixtures against the USA and Mexico on October’s American tour, where there will surely be a new figure in the dugout. - AFP