Shortly before eight, three quarters of an hour before the official starting shot, the crowd in the “Kybunpark”, which was still relatively manageable, suddenly started moving. Hansi Flick had stepped onto the field of play in the St. Gallen stadium, and while most people knew that these first steps weren’t quite as significant as those steps that Neil Armstrong took on the moon in 1969, they turned out pretty well freaking out. “Hansiiii” they shouted at once, and Hansi Flick waved back happily. He was glad. About the warm welcome of the locals and about the rest of the evening, which would bring his premiere performance as national coach.
An hour and a half later, half-time was already approaching, there was still high spirits in the stands, which were now filled with 8,000 people, but Hansi Flick was no longer happy about anything. What people kept applauding, standing up, was the outsider’s successful restlessness, the football pint Liechtenstein spoiled the game for Germany’s football power. When Timo Werner finally brought the favorites into the lead in the 41st minute, Flick refused to cheer. His wedding night mood had long been ruined, he was too angry to appreciate the 1-0. He paced up and down with a gloomy expression, turning his back on the lawn.
Flick watched the game through to the end, but there was no more fun. The 2-0 victory brings the necessary three points for the World Cup qualification, but it is an embarrassment. The new national coach celebrated a debut that was good to forget. There was no shortage of striving for a better result – but that only made things worse. Liechtenstein goalkeeper Benjamin Büchel was voted player of the game by the audience, but he didn’t even have to act as a witcher.
That evening it wasn’t about who wins and who loses, this distribution of roles had already been clarified, a game with such differences in size offers no room for a phenomenon of the cup sensation category, at least if cup sensation is defined as a point win. As a precaution, reporters checked the highest victories in DFB history, and the German professionals themselves were probably amazed when they faced one or the other opponent and saw men in the format of upscale district league table footballers. Number 8, for example, Aron Sele by name, represents the colors of Chur 97 in group 6 of the fifth Swiss league, the usual sources are politely silent about his competition weight. But when Aron Sele fired the first shot on goal for Liechtenstein after half an hour and received a lot of applause, he had already had one more moment of success than his German colleague Leroy Sané.
Sané doesn’t succeed at first, then he fights his way into the game
The attacker Sané does not have it easy in Munich. When Flick granted him a starting eleven in St. Gallen, it was probably an attempt to help build up the team. Sané returned the favor with great commitment, but he still wanted very, very little to succeed. Flick held on to him demonstratively and refrained from making a substitution. During the first personnel swap after an hour, he looked a little incredulous at the bank when Kai Havertz, Jamal Musiala and Ridle Baku were asked from the field one after the other, but he was not. After all, Sané reacted in the right way – he made the 2-0 with a sequence of movements typical for him. He didn’t really want to celebrate the goal.
The Germans – surprisingly with Thilo Kehrer in central defense – had started the game as everyone expected. They led the ball and attacked, Liechtenstein formed up to ward off the attacks either in a 4-4-2 or 5-3-2 order, whereby the difference remained marginal, because the motto was actually: All hands in the penalty area and close up. Joshua Kimmich, named captain by Flick, still found a gap. Any single leg prevented the expected early 0: 1, but no one thought anything about it. Then the gate would be about to fall. But after ten minutes, impatience made itself felt among the Germans circling around the penalty area, after a quarter of an hour Ilkay Gündogan shot just as far past the target from twenty meters, indicating that the top players from the top leagues couldn’t come up with anything. And that shouldn’t change much until the more or less bitter end.