Kai Havertz believes Ilkay Gundogan and Manuel Neuer’s criticism of Germany’s performance against Japan can spur them on in Sunday’s do-or-die meeting with Spain.
Germany lost their opening World Cup game for just the third time (W13 D4) on Wednesday as Bundesliga duo Ritsu Doan and Takuma Asano came off the bench to fire Japan to a shock 2-1 win.
Captain Neuer lamented Germany’s failure to put the game to bed after the defeat, while Gundogan said Asano’s goal was one of the most straightforward ever scored at a World Cup.
The shock result leaves Germany facing consecutive World Cup group-stage exits ahead of their meeting with Spain – who are favourites to top Group E after thrashing Costa Rica 7-0.
Speaking at a press conference on Friday, Havertz insisted his team-mates’ comments had not caused any ill feeling, saying: “It was constructive criticism from Ilkay and Manu.
“I can understand the boys. We talked about it. Such criticism is also good for the team because we continue to develop. It was a small snippet from an interview. Nobody is angry there.
“I can understand that negativity comes up from a lot of fans. There’s a lot of people taking shots at us, but in my head I’m not worried.
“I don’t care what was in the past. It’s a big game on Sunday. There’s no use getting negative thoughts now. We are looking ahead.”
3.3 – Germany lost 1-2 to Japan despite a tally of 3.3 Expected Goals – since Opta collects this data (1966 onwards), no team has ever lost a World Cup match with such a high xG value. Wasteful.
— OptaFranz (@OptaFranz)
Another early elimination would continue a run of poor tournament displays from Die Mannschaft, who went out in the last 16 at Euro 2020 after failing to make the knockout stages in Russia four years ago, but Havertz expects them to improve next time out.
“The statistics don’t speak for us, but we have experienced a lot of change in recent years, which is not easy,” the Chelsea forward added.
“That is not an excuse. What we have shown is not enough. But we will do everything we can to improve that.”
The omens are not good for Germany, who have won just one of their last seven meetings with Spain (D2 L4) – a run which includes a humiliating 6-0 loss in Seville two years ago.
Julian Brandt does not believe that result will have any bearing on Sunday’s fixture, and he hopes Germany can draw on their Euro 2020 experience in a bid to keep their World Cup dream alive.
“We’re in a s***** situation and Spain come into the stadium with a 7-0 win behind them, but this is an opportunity for us. This can release a lot of energy,” Brandt said.
“A little over a year ago, we also lost to France in the first game and then we won in the second game against Portugal. The guys understand such a situation. I don’t think the 6-0 is still relevant.”
1978 – Germany have lost a World Cup game in which they led at half-time for the first time since 1978 (2-3 vs Austria), having gone unbeaten in their previous 21 such matches before today. Japandemonium.
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe)