They were happy to provide information when they took a seat in the media center on Friday afternoon. Kai Havertz and Julian Brandt did not go into detail and did not name who gave whose opinion to whom, but at least the two German national soccer players let it be known that there had been an extensive team meeting the night before - one in which it after the 1: 2 at the World Cup opener against Japan was probably very open.
“It is important that we talk to each other and that we are honest. It's important when you sit across from each other and look each other in the eye, even if it's not always easy," said Havertz, the Chelsea attacking player. He made no secret of the fact that he was "not quite in the game" against Japan. The defeat, added the 23-year-old, he had now digested after initial anger. It is clear that in a team with 26 players there are different opinions "and we also approach each other". The open exchange that took place was completely fine.
Before the now decisive game on Sunday against Spain (8 p.m. / ZDF and MagentaTV), it also seems to have been necessary.
Havertz showed understanding for the public criticism from his own ranks. Both captain Manuel Neuer and Ilkay Gündogan counted the team. Gündogan, for example, said he had the feeling that there were players on the field who didn't want the ball. When asked about it, Havertz spoke of an overall constructive criticism from his teammates.
"Criticism like this is good because it's good for the team, whether it has to be done publicly or not is an open question," said Havertz: "We now know what we have to do."
This was confirmed by Julian Brandt, the Dortmund midfielder who was not used against Japan. He let it be known that the coaching team around national coach Hansi Flick had gone through many situations from the Japan game with them. "There was open talk and discussion with each other, we players also said something about certain things," said Brandt and spoke of a "shitty situation" in which the team is now because of the bankruptcy at the start.
But in the game against Spain “there is also a chance to change the mood. You can release a lot of energy." Brandt recalled the EM last year. Germany lost 1-0 to France in the first game and had a lot of pressure before the second group game against Portugal. Germany eventually won 4-2 and also qualified for the knockout games. There then followed the end of the round of 16 against England (0:2).
Hangover mood in the German team: started out enthusiastically, but then clearly lost 1:2 in the opening game against Japan. On Sunday evening it's already time: final. Ironically, against feared opponents Spain, a win is needed. How do you rebuild the team now?
Source: WORLD / Kevin Knauer
The mood, Havertz and Brandt reported in unison, was good in the team. There can be no talk of a stimulating climate or even inner turmoil. Brandt reported that it was a nice feeling for the players who had their families, wives or girlfriends to visit them at the team quarters – and also let them know that everyone in the team was ready to take on responsibility on the pitch. “We are all leaders at our clubs. We're all experienced," said the 26-year-old: "It doesn't help if only two or three players go ahead and take responsibility. I feel like everyone wants to step up and help, including the players on the bench."
Everyone's focus is now on the game against Spain, for which no further action is planned in advance in relation to the "One Love" armband banned by the world association Fifa. Before the game against Japan, all the German national players from the starting XI had demonstratively covered their mouths during the team photo. "We made our point very clear, everyone knows our point of view," said Kai Havertz: "Our focus is now one hundred percent on football."