Germany forward Thomas Mueller on Thursday said that his country’s second successive first-round exit from the FIFA World Cup was an “absolute catastrophe,” which teammate Kai Havertz likened to “watching a horror movie.”
Germany beat Costa Rica, but Spain’s defeat to Japan meant Germany finished third in Group E behind Spain, with the teams equal on four points and the positions decided only by goal difference.
“It is unbelievably bitter for us because our result would have been enough,” Mueller said. “It’s a feeling of powerlessness.”
Mueller was part of the 2014 World Cup-winning team and was also in the side who were eliminated at the same stage four years ago in Russia.
Havertz said the fact that Germany only discovered their fate when the result of the game between Japan and Spain was displayed on the stadium’s big screen made it even more difficult.
“When it happens this way, it feels like watching like a horror movie,” Havertz said. “We learned during the match that Japan were leading, and then the group standings were displayed in the stadium. We still had a little hope that Spain would score, but then we noticed that the Japan match was over.”
Havertz blamed the team’s performance against Japan for their elimination and hinted that all was not well in German soccer.
“When you go out twice in the first round and once in the round of 16, it’s extremely bitter,” he said. “We have to be honest and say that for four years, everything hasn’t been going well.”
“Now we’ve been knocked out twice in the group stage. I don’t think we’re a tournament team anymore,” he said.
Coach Hansi Flick said he had no plans to step down, but added: “It won’t be up to me.”
“From my side, there is no reason not to continue,” Flick said. “I enjoy it, we have good players coming through.”
Flick called for urgent changes to Germany’s youth development and said they needed to look to other countries for ways to improve.
“We have players who play with top clubs and we do have the quality, [but] I believe that for the future of German football, we need to do things differently in training,” he said. “It will be very important to focus on the new generation of footballers.”
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