When Hansi Flick started a coaching career that no one could have guessed would be great, he kept looking to Amsterdam from Bammental. One of the greatest coaches of the decade worked for the local first division club Ajax, that greatest, as he himself would say, Louis van Gaal.
Little Hansi Flick coached the North Baden Oberliga team Victoria Bammental, and today, about two and a half decades later, he says in all seriousness that he applied some of what he saw on van Gaal to Bammental. Flick would not go so far as to call van Gaal a role model, their football tastes are a little too different for that, but he was certainly a formative influence.
Two and a half decades later, they now stand a few meters apart before the match they shook hands, from Bonds coach to national coach. Van Gaal’s Dutchmen hosted the German national team in the aforementioned Amsterdam, and as you know van Gaal, he gave himself the task of playing in this match. This glorious German coach has coached eight matches for Germany so far, he has won eight times – who, if not the great Louis, should finish this series? Eventually he finished it – of course: it ended 1: 1. Steven Bergwijn equalized for Thomas Müller.
Hansi Flick himself was tense before tonight, he knows his team well, but he was not sure which of the two whispers on his shoulder he should believe. The little devil who said he should not be proud of the eight victories that came only against Liechtenstein, Armenia and Iceland? Or the angel who reassured him because the victories were still stylish and compelling?
How seriously Flick took this task could be seen by his line-up, which represented a kind of starting eleven of the survivors. With Kimmich, Goretzka, Gnabry, Süle and Gosens, five potential starting eleven players were missing, which is why Flick decided to take a risk as he was well aware of the possible side effects. He entrusted the defensive midfield center to two attacking players, Ikay Gündogan and Jamal Musiala – a move that influenced the game’s entertainment factor.
Both acted as double playmakers – they kept their own game going, especially Musiala always impressed with the big snake-like movements that you can neither practice nor learn. However, their lack of toughness and the naturally underdeveloped defensive resilience also contributed to the Dutch being able to combine quickly again and again through the German midfield. Central defenders Antonio Rüdiger and Nico Schlotterbeck sometimes faced a difficult task as they repeatedly saw orange-clad athletes rushing towards them at high speed.
This is how a game developed where the spectators must have felt that they were playing tennis. Head to right, head to left, head to right … neglected their central midfielders, both teams’ attacking players swept the ball from penalty area to penalty area.
Van Gaal is right again in the 1-1 match against DFB
Müller plays well on Sané, Sané hits the side netting (12 ‘, head right); van Dijk sends Malen, who runs over Schlotterbeck, Malacia narrowly misses the pass (18 ‘, head left); Havertz plays for space, space crosses, Werner heads the crossbar (head to right, offside, 21st). This right-left pattern continued throughout the first half, with coaches van Gaal and Flick almost as much of what they liked (attacking moments) and much of what they did not like (defensive resilience).
It also showed again what is so fascinating about coach van Gaal, apart from the spectacular fascination he feels for himself. Van Gaal is possibly the only manager in the world who can concede a goal and still be right. If he was Hansi Flick, van Gaal said condescendingly the day before the match, then he would definitely put up with Thomas Müller – for Müller would certainly be particularly motivated towards him, his discoverer of van Gaal.
In any case, shortly before the break a final attack ran through the German midfield, Schlotterbeck sent Musiala to the left into the penalty area, his post was aimed at Havertz and found the particularly motivated Müller via detours – who threw the ball under the crossbar with the routine of a goal scorer (45.). This rule applied under van Gaal, it applied after van Gaal, and it now apparently also applies under Hansi Flick: If you stagger backwards, it must at least rub in front.
David Raum misses the 2-0 victory against Holland
What do you think the coaches said during the break? Anyone who saw the game’s progress would bet on “hold it up”, the game remained lively and far too open in midfield. While the Dutch were initially happy not to be 2-0 down after Raum’s shot over the goal (48 ‘), this feeling of happiness later shifted to the side of DFB-Elf.
First, the passivity of the German midfield enabled the Dutchman de Jong to throw a diagonal ball against Dumfries, who won the header duel against space and brought the ball to Bergwijn, who shot in to equalize (68 ‘). Five minutes later, referee Pawson converted a penalty he had previously awarded to Holland for reasons that can be called interesting – Kehrer is said to have played the ball against Depay (73 ‘).
In the end, both coaches could probably be satisfied. Flick’s team, who became very confused due to a few changes, survived a turbulent final phase without conceding another goal – and the great Louis van Gaal was of course the first to prevent the little national coach from Bammental from winning.