The Germany manager will be looking to help his side lift the trophy at the end of the tournament
Hansi Flick, the Germany head coach is leading his team to 2022 FIFA World Cup. Ahead of the tournament Hansi Flick sat down with the Bundesliga media, discussing a variety of topics including managing in the Bundesliga and his picks for the 2022 FIFA World Cup and the Qatar World Cup. Finally, here is the full interview.
With the World cup just around the corner, what must Germany do to improve on the campaign of 2018?
“I’m not thinking about the past, I’m thinking about the excitement for this tournament that’s ahead of us. There have been four years since then, the difference is that the players are older, but then also the team has a completely new face. There are lots of new, young players there, some of whom won the U21 European Championship, so it’s normal for a team to develop, with a new coach, and new players. That’s what we’ve got. I think we’re on the right track with regards to the football we want to play.”
Most of the German national players are either playing for Bayern München or Borussia Dortmund. What does this mean for the team?
“I think lots of tournaments have shown that when you have a group of players, whether it’s Bayern players or Dortmund players, before it was Bayern players and Gladbach players or Köln players, it’s something that can bring a good harmony to the group. So, it’s not our focus to set the team like that, like we’re looking to get as many Bayern or Dortmund players in the team as possible, we just want the best players with us, who we, as a coaching staff think will give the team the most, give us the most energy, and the most quality.”
How do you plan on setting up your team on the pitch?
“For me it’s very important that the spine is right, with that certain symmetry you want in the game, and the most important part of that is the spine: the goalkeeper, the central defenders, defensive midfielders, attacking midfielders, and of course the striker. Those are key decisions for the whole coaching staff and I think we’re well-stocked in those areas.”
German managers have always emphasised using youthful players, will you be the same or are do you prefer relying on players you know well already?
“Yeah, on the one hand, of course, because you know exactly what makes certain individuals tick. But on the other hand, we’re always open and curious to see what other players can do, so we’re always happy to get a new boost from somewhere. We have a lot of young players who can do a lot of good and have a lot of fun, and quite honestly, they can fit into the national team well.”
What is your view on Manuel Neuer?
“For me, he’s still by far the best goalkeeper in the world. The goalkeeper has always been a huge part of the Germany team, whether it’s Sepp Maier, Toni Schumacher, Oliver Kahn,
Jens Lehmann, or now Manuel Neuer, who has changed the way goalkeepers play in terms of how he interprets the role, and he’s a role model for young talents. We have a good academy system in Germany when it comes to goalkeepers, and we’re at a high level there – so we always have a number of good players who come through, and I hope that continues in the next few years too.”
As the German national coach, how much do you look at the U21 squad for players you can bring in?
“Yeah, it’s not just for the development of the team, it’s about the development of individual players too. I think when you can compete with the best players in your age group, it has a lot of advantages. I find it good that we’ve won big tournaments in the last few years, the U21s have won the EUROs twice in the last few years, and for the players, we have with us now, it’s very important because they have that tournament experience and they know what’s coming.
That’s also in our thinking as coaches, we say ‘Ok, we’ll take a young player with us that can pick up the experience of being at a World Cup’, because obviously in 2024 we have an amazing event coming up here in Germany, so it could be very helpful for those players who might be a part of this team in a couple of years.”
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What is your view on Nico Schlotterbeck?
“I think Nico is a real standout talent, in terms of possession, you have to say he’s really good. He builds up play really well, and he has a good eye, but he’s also aware of his quality and he holds himself that way. However, there are still things that he can do better.”
Are you happy that so many players in your squad are playing in the Bundesliga?
“It’s true that there are one or two players that still play for big clubs elsewhere, you think of Toni Rüdiger at Real Madrid or Ilkay at Manchester City, Chelsea with Kai Havertz, but with an eye on the Euro 2024 in Germany, I like to have as many players as possible that play their trade in Germany, because the league is very well set up, and just the way they can experience the atmosphere and see how things are here ahead of the Euro, it’s good, and I think they can just identify with it all a bit easier. So, I’m not unhappy that so many players play in Germany.”
How would you describe your relationships with the Bundesliga clubs?
“I think it’s always important and decisive to work as a team, at the end of the day. We as a national team can only have good results and success when the clubs are run well. Clubs go through that day-to-day work, the coaches have players at their disposal every day, the youth teams and also the first teams, they’re the ones that develop the players, so it’s our job at the DFB to support the clubs, help the clubs, in the form of training coaches but also putting forward ideas as to how talent can be developed. I think that’s what the academy does, the campus does, it’s a good basis, and we have to make sure we make the right decisions for the development and training of top talents.”
Which position in your team has the biggest potential for development?
“It’s tough, even when I was sporting director, this was a topic, with the wide players, the fullbacks. We said we had to make sure that we were bringing players through in those positions. At Valencia they had Guido Streichsbier, Valencia has developed three or four super left-backs over the last few years, and everyone asked ‘How does he do that?’ and he said ‘If we had the solution then we’d also have top right backs’! And I think it’s something that depends on the players who are available. You have the feeling that in the centre of the pitch, in midfield, we have a lot of options, a lot of quality, and perhaps those other positions, fullbacks, wide players, and also the striker, we need to put them in focus a little more and recognise what those positions can do for us.”
How important is team spirit compared with having one or two global superstars in the team?
“It was said a lot in 2014, one team had them, another team had him and him, and Germany had ‘Die Mannschaft’. I think that should set us apart, and it’s important you have those different players. When everything is going well and everyone is playing to their best level, we should have a lot of those players in our ranks.”
This year teams haven’t had a long time to prepare for the World Cup. Will it affect your team?
“We want to be well-prepared, even if it’s not so easy, because we only have the first opportunity to train and work with the team just four days before the Japan game. Before that, it’s just about acclimatisation, because you’ve just arrived in Qatar, and you have to get used to everything, including the temperature, we have a game against Oman, and the focus is all on those four training sessions before Japan. We have little time to prepare things compared to the other times I’ve been with the DFB, so I hope we’ll able to start the tournament well and get that flow, and the team can show what quality they have.”