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National coach Flick Sané builds up to become a top player

FFor most it was a scene to smile about that happened in the past week of training. Not for Jamal Musiala. Apparently he hadn’t noticed that the national coach had taken up a position behind him, the warm-up program was still running, in any case Musiala, nicknamed Bambi, seemed quite frightened for a moment when the voice, which clearly belonged to Hansi Flick, sounded across the pitch: “Hey! hey!! hey!!! What kind of header was that!?” Musiala’s headers had much more resilience from then on, and the national coach turned his attention to other things.

“You play the way you train” is one of Flick’s favorite phrases, you could also say it is an essential part of the foundation on which he builds his teams. On Saturday evening, however, Flick had to watch a team that had trained very well, as he himself emphasized again afterwards, play football pretty badly. So that after the 1-1 draw against Italy in Bologna at the start of the Nations League, he was asked to play an unusual role: not as a crisis manager, but as a disappointment manager, for the first time in his ten months as national coach.

When the team plays England this Tuesday in Munich (8.45 p.m. in the FAZ live ticker for the Nations League and on ZDF), it could be the most exciting (for the audience) and most challenging (for Flick and the team) appearance of his service time. The impression from this encounter will define the coming months up to the World Cup in Qatar, in terms of atmosphere, but also in terms of sport.

It may be that the Nations League is a bit unfavorable to tickle the players to top performances: But if there was always talk of the four games in June being a position determination and an indicator for the way back to the top of the world, it remains sustainable for one positive impression after the damper from Bologna now only the England game. What Flick makes of it now will be registered very precisely outside and inside.

“It’s always the way that matters”

On Monday at the press conference in Herzogenaurach, there was a glass of water on the table in front of him, and if someone had asked him about it, it wouldn’t have been a surprise if Flick had said without looking: full. His answer to the question of why Bayern had been so weak in the second half of the season was to pay Julian Nagelsmann a “huge compliment” on winning the championship. It’s not that Flick doesn’t see things critically.

On Saturday in Bologna in the media room of the Stadio Renato Dall’Ara, a national coach could be seen who clearly addressed the deficits: too little intensity, lack of coordination, lack of compactness. The analysis culminated in the statement that the completely newly formed Italian team was “a little bit better attuned than us”. But the national coach was by no means in a mood of crisis, as has sometimes been reported. “It’s always the way that matters,” said Flick. And then he looked optimistically ahead again.

Exploit everything that is possible

Flick’s strategy to reduce the delta of the German national team to the top of the world, which has recently grown alarmingly, essentially consists of two elements. The first: not to miss any possibility for individual and collective improvement, no matter how small – and to create some entirely new ones. The close exchange with the players, even while they are at the clubs, the hiring of a special trainer for standards, the recent training camp in Marbella, the planned trip to Dubai with a final test match immediately before the start to Qatar, Flick wants to exploit everything that is possible, because he knows that otherwise it will not be enough.

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