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Germany hope team meeting will help turn Qatar fortunes

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Germany's Kai Havertz (L) and Julian Brandt speak during a press conference for the German national soccer team at the German Football Federation (DFB) media center, during the 2022 FIFA Qatar World Cup. Photo: Christian Charisius/dpa

Germany players and coach Hansi Flick had a tough clear-the-air team meeting after their shock 2-1 defeat against Japan and are now confident they can beat Spain and avoid elimination from the World Cup.

Forwards Kai Havertz and Julian Brandt told reporters on Friday that the meeting was necessary and could now help turn around matters.

“Everyone knows after the meeting what is at stake,” Havertz said, adding that it had been time “to talk and to tell each other the truth.”

Havertz dismissed suggestions coach Hansi Flick had been too nice to the players, stating “the last thing to accuse the coach is that he doesn’t speak clearly to us.”

Midfielder Ilkay Gündogan had questioned the attitude of some players after the game when he suggested that “not everyone wanted the ball” when Japan pressed and turned the game around.

Defenders Niklas Süle and Nico Schlotterbeck but there was also criticism on Flick for substituting Gündogan and Thomas Müller, and also Jamal Musiala later, which they said helped tipped the balance in Japan’s favour.

“We left the meeting room with the feeling that we will in the game,” said Brandt who did not play against Japan.

Havertz said the team was “in a bad moment but the game on Sunday can be the turning point” and that they would not hide on the field even though he named Spain’s opening 7-0 against Costa Rica, “a strong result.”

Spain have not lost against Germany at a tournament in 34 years and won their last meeting 6-0 in the 2020 Nations League.

Germany will be eliminated from the World Cup in the group stage a second straight time if they lose against Spain and Japan don’t lose against Costa Rica earlier Sunday.

Havertz also said that the team was fully focussing on football and planning no further protest around the One Love armband controversy on Sunday.

“We have made our position clear over the last days. It is tough for me to speak about it again but our focus is 100% on football,” forward Kai Havertz told reporters on Friday.

“We have expressed our thoughts and now it is about football.”

The German players covered their mouths ahead of Wednesday’s opening game against Japan to protest the decision of the ruling body FIFA to deny them and six other European teams using the multi-coloured One Love armband in support of diversity in all areas at the tournament in Qatar which has been criticised over its human rights record.

©dpa

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