By Rashmi Goel

In their second World Cup appearance in a row, the four-time champions have been eliminated at the group stage the second time in a row. The teams' losses to Mexico and South Korea in 2018 did not suffice to save them, and their 4-2 victory over Costa Rica in Al Khor on Thursday did not provide them with any protection. There had been a point where this team had fallen so far behind that they could be determined by the results of other teams, highlighting just how far they had fallen since their last championship in 2014. As many of the globe's pundits proclaimed that they thought this was a German team filled with a lot of talent, but found that to be untrue on the pitch where the truth has been revealed. As a team, they are vulnerable to failure as there are several reasons for that, such as aging, a lack of ideas in the forward line, and a coach who appears to be unsure of what he is doing at the moment.

If Should the failure of their team to move beyond Group E comes as a surprise to you, then you have not been following the team closely. It is true that they have Manuel Neuer, Ilkay Gundogan, and Joshua Kimmich patrolling the midfield, and that figure up front certainly resembles Thomas Muller. However, to characterize this team as anything other than a shadow of past teams is to ignore the bare facts. They demonstrated exactly what was lacking even in their victory on Thursday. There is no doubt that Muller has shown his quality in the past, but right now he appears to be a 33-year-old forward who lacks sharpness and has played 65 minutes of club football in the past two months.

Early in the contest, a free header by him that flew miles wide set the tone for the game. However, Flick made the decision to start him against Costa Rica, and it was only after Kai Havertz and Niclas Fullkrug were brought on that Germany began to convert some of the numerous chances that they had been given. The savior of a team against Spain in game two, Fullkrug, has yet to open his account in game three. In the end, Havertz was able to pull Los Ticos apart, but he was only brought on in place of Muller after Yeltsin Tejeda had canceled out Serge Gnabry's opener. The match already appeared to be going Germany's way when Juan Vargas scored and it looked as if the team would go down without even putting up a fight, but Havertz hit a brace and Fullkrug sealed the victory. However, it wasn't enough when Japan managed to win 2-1 against Spain earlier in the day, but it was at least a good indication that Die Mannschaft has a bright future ahead of them. Flick left it too late to make a difference. This should have been enough to give the present a bit more light, but it wasn't enough to make any significant changes.

The number of changes he has made since succeeding Jogi Low is not nearly enough. While Neuer is no longer the goalkeeper of the early 2010s, Gundogan - with only one minute of international knockout football to his name - has never been able to replicate the brilliance he displayed for his club in a German uniform. Kimmich, Rudiger, and Gnabry are other names that take on a certain aura, but they are not as prestigious as Mats Hummels or Per Mertesacker, nor are they as prominent as Toni Kroos or Miroslav Klose. What was the reason for Jamal Musiala's misplacement? In essence, what was Flick thinking? There is no explanation for why a nation of Germany's stature has to suffer another World Cup embarrassment in order for its coach to realize what is before him. It is clear after this latest demonstration of Germany's precipitous decline that Flick, who many Bayern Munich fans had written off as a chancer long before he joined the national team, faces many challenges.

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