Nations League: Jonas Hofmann and Manuel Neuer shine for tired Germany – DW (English)

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Jonas Hofmann scored again for Germany, who drew a fourth straight game 1-1, this time in Budapest against Hungary. The game is the latest in the end-of-season Nations League fixtures.

Jonas Hofmann’s goal in Budapest was his second in as many games for Germany
If the draw against England felt like two points dropped but a step in the right direction, Germany’s draw in Budapest felt like a fortunate one earned and a step backwards.
“We are also disappointed, but I wouldn’t say it was a lucky draw,” Manuel Neuer told “RTL” afterwards, failing to hide the exhaustion in his voice or on his face.
Hansi Flick, who was quick to remind everyone that Hungary were as good and compact as he said they would be, was more blunt about the result. 
“We didn’t play with conviction. We made too many mistakes and as a result we have to be happy with the result,” said Flick. “I’m not going to start to make excuses. We wanted to win three points today. We didn’t and that’s why we’re not happy.”
In the penultimate fixture of this four-game in 10 day stretch, Germany looked physically and mentally tired.
The unbeaten stretch under Hansi Flick now stands at 12, but that was the last thing on anyone’s mind at the end of this one. Germany lacked penetration in attack and were short on creativity outside spells in the opening half. For the first time in Germany’s history the team has drawn four straight games and it doesn’t feel like a good thing.
At the moment, other than Neuer once again sparing them a defeat with a flurry of big saves, Jonas Hofmann is one of the few good things about Germany. Exactly three minutes after an early opener that sent the home crowd crazy, Hofmann scored following Nico Schlotterbeck’s remarkable pinpoint pass.
The Gladbach man’s goal was his third in his last four international games, and it was Germany’s only shot on target all night.
His low cross to the far post after 30 minutes nearly set up an equalizer and all night his movement behind the backline was a problem for Hungary.
Hofmann nearly had the perfect evening, but his compassion cost him in the second half when he tried to set up a struggling Timo Werner for a goal rather than go alone. It was Germany’s only chance in the second half, and Hofmann’s dumbfounded stare into the distance after the final whistle suggested a man replaying the moment over and over again in his mind.
“That’s on me,” Hofmann said of the chance afterwards. “I was a bit surprised that the goalkeeper stayed in goal so long. I should have just gone for it and it’s tough because I think it would have been the winning goal.”
Manuel Neuer saved Germany from a worse fate
Hofmann turns 30 next month, but his form and versatility is something Flick favors. He set up the goal against Italy, and scored Germany’s only goals against England and Hungary. At this stage it would be a major surprise if he were not on the plane to Qatar.
Werner probably will be, although his relationship with the offside flag remains a problem for Flick. Beyond individual performances though, this was also a hugely underwhelming collective performance from Germany with the lack of dynamism in possession still an issue. Again, tiredness is a valid reason but it’s not a unique one.
Plenty of Hungary’s players have played just as long a season, but that didn’t stop the hosts ending the second half with double the number of shots and four more chances to score a second.
After the positivity against England and Flick’s call to focus on the game and not the atmosphere, Germany took a step backwards in Budapest. Oliver Bierhoff stood hands on hips on the sidelines, chatting frustratedly with Germany’s set-piece coach Mads Buttgereit, while Flick was openly critical in his press conference. No one was happy.
Flick called the performance against England the foundation he wanted this side to build on. The one in Hungary will be the one he wants his side to forget.
Edited by Michael Da Silva
Germany’s last competitive fixtures before the World Cup are over following a 3-3 draw with England in London. With it came a humble reminder that Germany’s World Cup aspirations must be tempered with realism.
Germany failed to convince they are tournament-ready, as Flick’s tinkering reveals he is still unsure of his best team. Outsung, outwitted, and outgunned, they fell to their first defeat since he took over.
Germany lost to Hungary on Friday night, crashing out of the Nations League and prompting concern ahead of the World Cup, with several key players struggling for form. Chief among them: talisman Thomas Müller.
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