Pressure mounts on Flick as Germany lose to Japan


(l-r) Pascal Gross of Germany, Germany coach Hansi Flick during the friendly Interland match between Germany and Japan at the Volkswagen Arena on September 9, 2023 in Wolfsburg, Germany.

Germany manager Hansi Flick is under serious pressure after a dismal 4-1 defeat against Japan in a friendly.

Junya Ito opened the scoring for Japan after 11 minutes, but Bayern Munich forward Leroy Sane struck back for the hosts.

Ayase Ueda tucked in from close range to restore Japan's advantage midway through the first half at Volkswagen Arena in Wolfsburg.

Takuma Asano and Ao Tanaka then put the game to bed in the closing moments.

Germany's fourth defeat in their last five outings was also their heaviest setback since a 6-0 loss in the Nations League against Spain in 2020.

Former Bayern Munich boss Flick has won just 12 of his 25 games in charge since replacing Joachim Low in August 2021.

Germany also lost 2-1 against Japan at the 2022 World Cup as they failed to get out of their group and have recorded just three wins from their last 12 fixtures - beating Oman, Costa Rica and Peru.

A "brutally disappointed" Flick said he still thinks he is the "right manager" for Germany, but knows "how things can change in professional football and I can't see what's to come".

That disappointment was echoed by his players, with captain Ilkay Gundogan saying "we are not good enough right now, it's a completely bitter day - we all need to ask questions of ourselves".

Bayern Munich midfielder Joshua Kimmich added: "The bottom line is that it was a well-deserved defeat. We had nothing up front in the second half. We haven't actually played a good game since the World Cup. This has to give us pause and we have to question our quality."

Germany's director of football Rudi Voller was even more stark, calling the 4-1 loss "a disgrace".

Speaking on BBC Radio 5 Live's Euro League podcast earlier this week, German football journalist Raphael Honigstein suggested the German FA could sack Flick if he proves incapable of getting results during this international break.

"It sounds ridiculous being two friendly matches but Flick is under huge pressure not to mess this up. The last games [defeats by Poland and Colombia] were so bad this has become an unofficial final for his era," said Honigstein.

"Two bad performances and two bad results and the Germany FA will be forced to get rid because the public pressure would be intolerable."

Germany - who host Euro 2024 - take on 2022 World Cup finalists France in a friendly at Dortmund's Signal Iduna Park on Tuesday.

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