Former World Cup winner Philipp Lahm says Germany need to reinvent themselves after a dismal World Cup campaign where they were dumped out in the group stage.

Despite a 4-2 victory in their final Group E match against Costa Rica, Hansi Flick's side exited Qatar 2022 after Japan beat Spain, ensuring both qualified instead for the last 16.

It marks the second successive World Cup since Lahm guided them to victory at Brazil 2014 where Germany have failed to reach the knockout stage.

Reflecting on their exit, the former Bayern Munich man did not doubt his nation's spirit, but pinned a lack of game management and intelligence upon them as key to their downfall.

"In all three group matches Germany showed passion, commitment and aggression," he wrote in The Guardian. "The opponents sensed there were players with quality.

"But there was a lack of strategy and order; it was never clear who would take on which role. Hansi Flick's team were not organised in Qatar."

Lahm pointed to Argentina, another side who struggled after a shock loss to Saudi Arabia, and how they ensured a rigid formation to claw their way back into the tournament.

"Even in that defeat, you could see that Lionel Scaloni's team were dominant because they were organised," he added. "They then locked Mexico and Poland in their half at some point to score goals.

"The superior boxer sets up the knockout. Germany were not able to do that. They failed to control the game. To control a game you have to develop play from the defence and from the centre. That is a law of football. 

"Football is all about the details. A team can only solve risk management problems together, in coordination with each other. Argentina are strong at it.

"Germany lack the structure to do this or to play a game that suffocates the opponent, which inevitably results in conceding goals.

"It will be a challenging task to form a team with a view to the European Championship at home in a year-and-a-half. Germany must reinvent themselves."

Germany can no longer call themselves an elite football nation after enduring an "embarrassing" elimination from the World Cup, according to former defender Holger Badstuber.

Hansi Flick's side finished third in a closely contested Group E despite beating Costa Rica 4-2 on Thursday, with Japan and Spain advancing after the Samurai Blue claimed a memorable 2-1 win over La Roja.

Germany have now failed to reach the knockout stages at consecutive World Cups and have gone 12 major tournament games without a clean sheet – their longest ever such run.

Writing in his World Cup column for Eurosport, Badstuber – a bronze medallist at the 2010 tournament – called for Germany to go back to basics.

"It is a debacle. Weak, embarrassing, unworthy, disappointing," he said. "Our defence no longer has anything to do with world class, not even with European class. 

"Defence wins titles. This old saying has not changed at all. Hansi Flick has to question himself, of course. I think he sees what's going wrong. 

"At the press conference, he already addressed the deficiencies in the training of the defence, but the basic structure of the national team also needs to be questioned hard.

"In the end, it was no longer about pure football, it was no longer about this game itself, about the association, not about the elite of German football. 

"Germany is no longer elite. Germany is definitely no longer one of the top nations in world football. We are no longer a top nation."

 

The form of Bayern Munich attacker Jamal Musiala has been one of the few positives to emerge from Germany's dismal campaign in Qatar, and Badstuber believes the teenager is the only player who escapes blame.

"I would like to exclude Jamal Musiala from my criticism," Badstuber continued. "At 19, he is already a brutally good player.

"I have to hold back, because I'm usually sparing with superlatives for such young players like him, but it's just pure pleasure to watch him. 

"He is incredibly stable and always ready to work on the defensive side as well. It's great to have him in the team, he will bring a lot of joy to Germany's football."

FIFA has defended the VAR verdict that saw Japan score a controversial goal against Spain, knocking Germany out of the World Cup in the process.

The video assistant referee ruled there was nothing wrong with Japan's winner in Thursday's game, scored by Ao Tanaka.

Television replays cast some doubt on that decision, with Kaoru Mitoma crossing from a position where, from certain angles, the ball looked to have run off the pitch.

Tanaka bundled the ball over the line, and a drawn-out VAR review ruled Brighton and Hove Albion player Mitoma had kept the ball in play.

On Friday, FIFA blamed "misleading images" for appearing to point to the ball having fully left the boundaries of the pitch.

The world governing body insisted its VAR integrity was as watertight as could be, with the video evidence it presented showing the whole of the ball had not crossed the dead-ball line, even though almost all of it had.

Such replays had been a long time in coming, critics said, with a number of broadcast pundits questioning on Thursday why such forensic images were not shown during the game coverage, if they were made available to the VAR.

FIFA's statement, issued on Twitter, read: "Japan's second goal in their 2-1 win over Spain was checked by VAR to determine if the ball had gone out of play. The video match officials used the goal line camera images to check if the ball was still partially on the line or not.

"Other cameras may offer misleading images but on the evidence available, the whole of the ball was not out of play."

The outcome of the game means Spain go forward to face Morocco in the last-16 stage, while Japan, as Group E winners, will take on Croatia, who were runners-up in Group F.

Four-time champions Germany exited the tournament because of Japan's 2-1 win, with their own 4-2 success over Costa Rica proving nothing more than a consolation.

Jurgen Klopp's agent has ruled out the prospect of the Liverpool manager replacing Hansi Flick as Germany boss following their surprise World Cup exit.

Kai Havertz's brace, as well as goals from Serge Gnabry and Niclas Fullkrug, ensured Germany secured a 4-2 win over Costa Rica on Thursday, but their efforts were in vain as Japan staged a remarkable comeback to beat Spain and join them in escaping Group E.

Germany's group-stage elimination – their second in as many World Cup tournaments – has led to stern criticism of the side, with some questioning Flick's suitability for the role of head coach.

Former Germany international Dietmar Hamann has called for Flick to depart after overseeing a "pathetic" campaign in Qatar, and Liverpool boss Klopp – as well as former Chelsea coach Thomas Tuchel – has been touted as a potential replacement.

However, Klopp's representative Marc Kosicke told Sky Sports in Germany his client would not be interested in the role, saying: "This is a media topic. 

"Jurgen has a contract at Liverpool until 2026 and he intends to fulfil it."

Flick signed a three-year contract to lead Germany last year, which is set to run through their Euro 2024 campaign on home soil.

The former Bayern Munich boss will be cursing Germany's finishing after they were eliminated from the World Cup despite generating the highest expected goals (xG) tally at the tournament (10.4), three more than the total managed by the competition's second-most creative side (France with 7.4 xG).

Former Germany international Dietmar Hamann has called for Hansi Flick to be replaced as the team's head coach after overseeing a "pathetic" group-stage exit from the World Cup.

A late double from substitute Kai Havertz helped Germany beat Costa Rica 4-2 in their final Group E game on Thursday, but Japan stunned Spain with a 2-1 win at the Khalifa International Stadium to send the four-time winners home.

Germany have now suffered group-stage eliminations from consecutive World Cups, having avoided falling at the first hurdle on each of their last 16 appearances at the tournament before 2018.

The coaches of some eliminated sides – such as Mexico's Tata Martino and Belgium's Roberto Martinez – have already announced their departures, and Hamann thinks Flick should do the same.

Speaking to Sky Sports in Germany, a furious Hamann said: "I think it's impossible that we can continue with the coach. 

"After this debacle, we only have 18 months until the European Championships at home, that was pathetic.

"Costa Rica had one shot on target in the first two games and we made them look like Brazil. In the team, everyone does what they want. I see no reason why Flick should remain as coach.

"When I hear some comments from those responsible [with other teams], I have to say that responsibility looks different. Excuses, excuses, excuses. It's time for a cut."

Germany have failed to keep a single clean sheet in their last 12 games at World Cups or European Championships, their longest ever such sequence. 

The last side to fail to score against Germany in a major tournament match was Slovakia, who were beaten 3-0 by Joachim Low's side in the round of 16 at Euro 2016.

Joshua Kimmich described Germany's humiliating World Cup exit as the worst moment of his career as Japan and Spain progressed following a dramatic Group E finale on Thursday.

Germany began their final fixture against Costa Rica knowing a win would likely take them into the last 16 if Japan failed to beat Spain, and Hansi Flick's men held up their end of the bargain with a 4-2 victory.

However, Ritsu Doan and Ao Tanaka scored as Japan staged a remarkable comeback to beat La Roja, ensuring they emerged as surprise group winners and ending Germany's bid for a fifth World Cup triumph.

Germany have now failed to progress beyond the group stage at consecutive World Cups after doing so on each of their previous 16 appearances at the tournament, leaving Kimmich devastated.

"For me personally, this is the worst day of my career. I'm afraid I'll fall into a hole," Kimmich told reporters. "It makes you think these failures are connected to my person.

"This is definitely the most difficult day of my career for me. The second time being eliminated at a World Cup, in between we had the Euros, where we were eliminated early. 

"That is bitter and there have been many missed opportunities within the last four years."

Germany reached the semi-finals of Kimmich's first major tournament at Euro 2016, but they have since fallen at the first hurdle at two World Cups and suffered a last-16 defeat to England at Euro 2020.

Costa Rica briefly took a surprise lead when Manuel Neuer put through his own net with 20 minutes remaining on Thursday, and Germany have now gone 12 major tournament games without a clean sheet (World Cup/Euros) – their longest ever streak.

Kimmich's fellow midfielder Ilkay Gundogan hit out at Die Nationalmannschaft's defending as he called on his team-mates to reflect on their shortcomings.

"We concede goals too easily, we lose balls too easily and up front we miss goalscoring chances too easily," Gundogan said.

"Of course, as Germany, we have to have different aspirations, so we have to take a good look at ourselves. 

"We just didn't manage to do our best as a group, or maybe individually. We have to question what the reasons were and everyone has to look in the mirror and tell themselves that it wasn't enough."

Oliver Bierhoff knows Germany only have themselves to blame after they crashed out of a second successive World Cup at the group stage on Thursday.

Hansi Flick's side beat Costa Rica 4-2 in their final Group E match at Al Bayt Stadium, but that was not enough to see them through to the round of 16.

Japan's surprise 2-1 win over Spain ensured the Samurai Blue finished top and Luis Enrique's side secured second place due to having a superior goal difference to Germany.

Having failed to advance from their group in Russia four years ago, Germany were left stunned after falling short once again in Qatar.

A shock 2-1 loss to Japan in their opening match cost Germany, who held Spain to a 1-1 draw before claiming a first victory of the tournament in what proved to be their final game.

Bierhoff, Germany's national team managing director, said: "We're extremely disappointed. We're angry too because we had things in our own hands in all three games.

"Ultimately, football is a simple game. You have to score lots of goals and concede as few goals as you can, which we didn't manage to do.

"We could have put more pressure on Spain tonight if we had taken our chances and scored more goals. A trend of the last few years has been us throwing away games we’ve controlled."

Japan will face Croatia for a place in the quarter-final next Monday, with Spain taking on Morocco 24 hours later.

Sergio Busquets denied suggestions Spain were relieved to have avoided a potential World Cup quarter-final against Brazil after La Roja survived an almighty scare to advance from Group E.

Spain were on course to top the group when Alvaro Morata gave them an early lead against Japan at the Khalifa International Stadium on Thursday, but Ao Tanaka followed up Ritsu Doan's leveller within 142 seconds to fire the Samurai Blue to first place.

Spain's defeat saw them advance via goal difference as Germany beat Costa Rica 4-2 in the group's other game, and La Roja were briefly set for a stunning group-stage exit when Los Ticos led Hansi Flick's team with 20 minutes remaining.

Spain will now meet Morocco in the last 16, and provided Brazil avoid defeat to Cameroon on Friday, they will not be able to meet the pre-tournament favourites until the final.

However, Busquets was dismissive when asked if that represented a positive outcome, saying: "It has nothing to do with it. 

"We wanted to win and be first. We go to the other side of the bracket, but that does not guarantee that it will be easier or more difficult.

"We didn't want this to happen, our intention was to win. To continue, we have the round of 16 against Morocco, which is going to be a very difficult match.

"We were not comfortable. They closed the pass between the lines very well and it was very difficult for us to connect and create danger. 

"We knew it was going to be like that, it's a shame about the goals. We have to continue, try to correct the mistakes, and go through the knockouts."

Spain dropped to third place when Manuel Neuer's own goal put Costa Rica 2-1 up against Germany at Al Bayt Stadium, before the four-time winners levelled the scores through Kai Havertz three minutes later.

Busquets' midfield partner Pedri revealed Spain were made aware of their perilous situation during that brief period, as he emphasised the need to improve against Morocco.

"We knew we were out. Personally, I tried to encourage my team-mates to look for that goal after they scored against us, but we didn't manage it," Pedri said.

"We have to go with everything, the games now are life or death. The coach will tell us the failures we had and what we have to improve on."

Spain have lost their final group game at a World Cup for the first time since 1982 (1-0 v Northern Ireland), having won eight of their nine previous such matches (D1).

Japan, meanwhile, have reached the last 16 at consecutive World Cups for the first time, topping their group for the first time since they did so on home soil at the 2002 tournament.

Hansi Flick wants to see changes made to the way football is coached in Germany, with more players in Jamal Musiala's mould the ideal outcome.

Germany beat Costa Rica 4-2 on Thursday, but the victory at Al Bayt Stadium was not enough for them to progress from Group E due to Japan's shock win over Spain.

A topsy-turvy second half saw Germany, who had gone ahead through Serge Gnabry's early goal, fall behind before Kai Havertz grabbed a double and Niclas Fullkrug completed the scoring.

Germany finished third, condemned to a second straight group-stage exit from the World Cup, after they had progressed from the first round in each of their 16 previous such appearances at the tournament.

With Euro 2024, which Germany are hosting, on the horizon, Flick believes wholesale alterations are needed to the way football is coached in the country, with a back-to-basics approach required.

"We do have players who play at top clubs, we do have the qualities," Flick said in a press conference.

"I believe that for the future of German football we need to do things differently in training. For years we talk about new goalkeepers or new wing-backs, but what was always very good in German football was that we were able to defend well.

"We need the basics. Even though Spain lost against Japan, they are very good in defence and they focus on training the youngsters to those tactics.

"For the future, even for the next 10 years, this is vital."

Musiala's performance throughout the tournament has been one bright spot to come from Germany's disappointing campaign.

The Bayern Munich youngster was superb against Costa Rica. He had eight shots, two of which hit the post while two forced Keylor Navas into smart stops. His 24 touches in the opposition box was the most recorded in a World Cup game since such records began in 1966.

Musiala represented England at youth level and came through Chelsea's academy, and when asked by Stats Perform if the 19-year-old was a player to build around heading towards Euro 2024, Flick suggested the playmaker's upbringing helped prove his point about the weaknesses in Germany's approach.

"Jamal, what he showed today, it's so unfortunate that such a player cannot continue in the tournament," Flick said.

"He's fantastic, his skills in the tackles, the one-v-ones, he's outstanding. We do have talents, it has to be said, we are headed in the right direction, but we have to focus on the training.

"Jamal has been trained in England, not in Germany. We have Kai [Havertz], and he was able to really bring his A game."

Flick feels Germany's future can be bright, though.

He added: "We can get up quickly and recover. We will see what the future looks like. See how we can implement our idea.

"We need to assess our work here, head in a different direction. This is the next step. We will do that very soon.

"I am a very critical person and we will assess everything."

Kai Havertz says Germany's World Cup exit is akin to a "horror movie" after they were eliminated despite victory over Costa Rica.

The Chelsea forward's double was in vain as his team's 4-2 win was not enough to secure a knockout spot in Group E, with Japan's 2-1 triumph over Spain sending both nations through instead.

It marks the end of another dour World Cup adventure for Germany, who failed to keep a clean sheet for the 12th major tournament match in a row.

Havertz, who came off the bench to spark hope, acknowledged the pain and frustration of seeing his side come up short, despite playing all their cards in their final game.

"It is bitter for all of us," he stated. "We said at half-time that we shouldn't take it easy, that anything can happen. We didn't expect that to happen. It's like a horror movie.

"We saw the live table in the stadium, we recognised the situation from spectators and the reactions on the bench.

"There was still hope, because we assumed Spain would score another goal. Then we saw on the screen that their match was over, and that was it."

Germany's exit in Qatar marks the second successive World Cup where they have failed to get out of the group stages, and coupled with a last-16 loss at Euro 2020, makes for three tournaments on the bounce with poor results.

With the nation set to host European Championship in just over 18 months' time, Havertz understands the task of reigniting pride in their team will require a degree of soul-searching.

"If three tournaments in a row, you go out early, it makes you wonder what is going wrong," he added. "We need to change something. We are aware of that.

"When it counts, we didn't perform. We need to be honest with ourselves. Over the past five years, things haven't gone right, and it is our own fault. We are to blame."

Head coach Hansi Flick, in his first major tournament since succeeding Joachim Low, praised Havertz's contribution, but stressed his disappointment at their missed chances in Qatar.

"If I look at positives, Kai turned the game around," he added. "We can leave the pitch and go home with a victory. But if you look at the matches, it is our fault.

"We had chances against Spain and against Japan. You have to take them and score goals. There were lots of individual mistakes, and that is what makes me angry."

Thomas Muller described Germany's World Cup campaign in Qatar as an "absolute disaster", heavily hinting at international retirement in the process.

While Hansi Flick's side were successful in their final match, beating Costa Rica 4-2, Japan's surprise 2-1 victory over Spain led to another group-stage exit at the World Cup.

Prior to 2018 in Russia, Germany had not failed to advance past the group stage at a World Cup since 1954 but have now endured an early exit in the past two tournaments.

For Muller, part of the squad that was victorious in 2014 in Brazil, it may now be his final appearance on the international stage, as he admitted he was unsure of his future steps.

"It's an absolute disaster! I don't know what happens next," he told ARD after the match.

"If this was my last game, then I would like to say a few words to the German football fans."

He continued: "It was an enormous pleasure, dear people. We experienced great moments. I tried to keep my heart on the pitch in every game.

"I have always delivered commitment and sometimes there were tears of joy from my actions, sometimes the spectators also had pain in their faces.

"Even if I did not succeed in all actions, I did it with love. I'll have to see about everything else."

The 33-year-old has earned 121 caps for Germany, joint-fourth all-time for his nation, netting 44 goals, putting him seventh in the scoring charts.

Kai Havertz scored twice but Germany made another early World Cup exit despite beating Costa Rica 4-2 in a thriller at Al Bayt Stadium on Thursday.

Needing a victory to have any chance of reaching the round of 16, Germany secured their first win of the tournament but bow out at the group stage for a second successive World Cup.

Serge Gnabry gave them a richly deserved early lead, but Yeltsin Tejeda equalised with his first international goal in the second half and Costa Rica were heading for the knockout stage after Juan Pablo Vargas put them in front.

Havertz levelled not long after Vargas' goal and struck again to put Germany back in front, with fellow substitute Niclas Fullkrug then adding a late fourth goal 

It was Japan and Spain who advance from Group E, though, with the Samurai Blue finishing top after their surprise 2-1 win over Luis Enrique's side.

Gnabry opened the scoring only 10 minutes in, meeting David Raum's cross from the left with a glancing header that found the far corner of the net.

Leon Goretzka's header was kept out by Keylor Navas, Musiala fired wide after turning sharply and surging into the box and Gnabry was only just off target with a right-foot drive as Germany continued to dominate.

But Keysher Fuller almost equalised from out of the blue late in the first half, Manuel Neuer superbly tipping his shot around the post after a mistake from Antonio Rudiger.

News of Japan leading Spain left Germany fans with hands on heads and things took another turn for the worse when Tejeda was on hand to finish from close range after Neuer could only palm Kendall Waston's header into his path in the 58th minute.

Musiala twice struck the right-hand post and Rudiger hit the outside of the same upright as Germany desperately tried to stay alive.

Costa Rica then stunned Germany once again by taking the lead after 70 minutes, Vargas getting the final touch when Neuer as Germany failed to deal with a ball into the box.

Los Ticos' joy was short-lived, though, as Havertz finished clinically with his right foot soon after coming off the bench just a few minutes after Germany had fallen behind.

Navas denied Fullkrug with a magnificent save from close range, but Havertz tucked in coolly with his left foot at the back post.

Fullkrug looked to have strayed offside, but was awarded a second goal in as many games in the closing stages following a VAR check after he slotted in from close range, but Germany bowed out on goal difference.

Miroslav Klose saluted "exemplary" Niclas Fullkrug after the Germany striker's goalscoring World Cup debut against Spain.

The Werder Bremen forward was named in Hansi Flick's squad for the finals after netting 10 times in 14 Bundesliga appearances this season, a tally only bettered by Christophe Nkunku in the German top flight (12).

Fullkrug scored the winner against Oman on his debut earlier this month, before snatching the equaliser following a lively cameo appearance as a substitute in Die Nationalmannschaft's 1-1 draw with Spain on Sunday.

The 29-year-old, who became the first substitute to score for Germany at the World Cup since Mario Gotze's winner against Argentina in the 2014 final, has caught the eye of former striker Klose.

The World Cup's all-time leading scorer does not know if Fullkrug will start the four-time champions' crucial Group E clash with Costa Rica on Thursday, which they must win to stand any chance of qualifying for the last 16.

But Klose believes he would boost their attacking threat, telling Bild: "He has a certain presence in the penalty box and a good nose for situations.

"He brings a good package for a striker - good finishing inside the box, he's two-footed and strong with headers.

"Costa Rica will certainly sit deep, but I don't know Hansi's game plan. For me, it's important that when Niclas gets his minutes, he should use the opportunity.

"As soon as he's on the pitch, the opponent's focus will shift away from Jamal [Musiala], Thomas [Muller] or Leroy [Sane], because there will be someone in the penalty box to watch out for. That will automatically free up space for the others.

"I heard his interviews after the Spain game and immediately noticed that he doesn't get carried away. He knows that more still has to come.

"When I see how he conducts himself and from what I heard from the team, I can only say: that's exemplary. Football needs such guys."

Fullkrug revealed he used to look up to Klose, who also enjoyed a clinical spell with Bremen during his playing career, scoring 63 goals in 132 appearances between 2004 and 2007. 

"That's really nice to hear, because it means I did something right as a footballer," the 44-year-old added. "Niclas' statement is a big compliment for me. I'm even happier that a striker from my ex-club has the chance to show what he can do."

Thomas Muller wants more support from his Germany team-mates as he bids to ensure Thursday's clash with Costa Rica is not his final World Cup game.

Germany must beat Costa Rica at Al Bayt, and rely on Japan failing to beat Spain, if they are to qualify from Group E.

History is on Germany's side – they have won six of their eight World Cup matches against CONCACAF nations, while Costa Rica have won just one of their last 11 such games against European sides.

But, should Germany fail to get the win they need to stay in the competition, 33-year-old Muller might well have played at a World Cup for the last time.

The Bayern Munich forward is putting that concern to one side, for now, however.

"I had that thought briefly after the [defeat to] Japan," said Muller in a press conference.

"[But] since that Costa Rica win against Japan, there was a spark going through our camp when we watched the game. That game's result was important for us.

"We managed to transport these emotions to the Spain game and now we know that with a win, we have a good chance to proceed. So the thought of playing my final World Cup has faded a bit now."

Muller, who has 10 World Cup goals to his name, has started both of Germany's games in Qatar, but he is yet to have a single shot. Indeed, against Spain on Sunday, he managed just 18 touches in his 70 minutes on the pitch, with his replacement Niclas Fullkrug netting the equaliser for Hansi Flick's side.

While admitting his frustration at his lack of proficiency, Muller has asked for more from the players around him.

"My role over the last years has always been the same. I'm trying to share information with my team-mates and a willingness to perform," said Muller, who is now without a goal in his last 10 World Cup appearances.

"This is how I want to set an example. In the end, as I know, you will be evaluated as an offensive player by your goals or goal involvements. Having no shots on goal in two games, I am not happy.

"Especially when I am scoring a lot in training. But the games happen as they do and when a chance is coming, you have to be on it.

"We don't have many players like Jamal Musiala who in any zone of the pitch can create their own chances. I don't see myself like that, I need some support."

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Costa Rica – Keysher Fuller

Keysher Fuller scored from Costa Rica's very first shot on target at this World Cup, after more than 184 minutes of football played (including added time).

Fuller could become the fourth Costa Rica player to score more than once at a single World Cup after Bryan Ruiz in 2014, Paulo Wanchope in 2006 and Ronald Gomez in 2002.

Germany – Jamal Musiala

Bayern prodigy Musiala has been the bright spark for Germany at this tournament, and provided the assist for Fullkrug's equaliser against Spain, becoming the youngest Germany player to set up a World Cup goal since Muller did so against Australia in 2010.

Musiala has created five chances across his two games in Qatar, which is a joint-high in Germany's squad, alongside David Raum.

 

PREDICTION

Germany beat Costa Rica in their only previous match, which came at the 2006 World Cup.

Opta's model gives Costa Rica, who could sneak through with a win, just a 13.4 per cent chance of an upset, while Germany are the big favourites at 66 per cent. 

Hansi Flick intends to remain in charge for Euro 2024 on home soil, even if Germany suffer a shock early elimination from the World Cup.

Germany are bottom of Group E heading into the final round of fixtures after losing 2-1 to Japan and drawing 1-1 with Spain in their opening two games.

That makes Flick just the second Germany manager to fail to win his first two World Cup games, after Josef Herberger, with none having failed to win their first three in charge.

The four-time world champions must now beat Costa Rica and hope Spain defeat Japan to guarantee a place in the last 16. 

A draw between Spain and Japan, or a victory for the latter, would take the equation down to goal difference should Germany pick up all three points against Costa Rica.

Exiting the competition at the first hurdle would raise questions over whether Flick should remain in the job, but the ex-Bayern Munich boss has no intention of stepping aside.

"I don't know what else will happen, but from my side, my contract runs to 2024 and I'm looking forward to the Euros," he said at Wednesday's pre-match press conference.

"But we have a while to go until then. We go into the Costa Rica match trying to make things clear from the start, to exert pressure – these are our intentions. 

"Of course we know it'll be difficult against a team who normally defends. We need to adopt the same mentality as we showed against Spain."

Germany failed to reach the knockout round in Russia four years ago and exited Euro 2020 at the last-16 stage in last year's rescheduled tournament.

 

Flick, who took over on the back of those disappointments, is hoping to avoid more major competition disappointment on Thursday.

When asked to explain why Germany have underwhelmed at recent tournaments, Flick said: "Maybe you can ask me this question tomorrow, though I hope not.

"Normally I'm an optimist who thinks positively. I'm not considering anything like [exiting the tournament] for the time being.

"We know it's not entirely in our own hands and it goes without saying we didn't get the result we wanted in the first game.

"But we're here to reach the knockouts and we'll play our next match with confidence. Whatever happens, happens. Like after the Japan loss, I'm not feeling any pressure.

"We're heading in the right direction. Things are getting better in training and we're continuing to learn. We're finding solutions with the ball and that's why I think we're improving."

Germany are facing Costa Rica at the World Cup for just a second time, having previously won 4-2 in the opening match of the 2006 edition when hosting the tournament.

They have won six of their eight World Cup matches against CONCACAF nations, though their only loss in that run was in their last such match against Mexico in 2018.

Costa Rica have won just one of their past 11 World Cup games against European nations, meanwhile, with that including a 7-0 loss to Spain in their opening group match.

However, Luis Fernando Suarez's side beat Japan last time out and can themselves reach the last 16 by defeating Germany at Al Bayt Stadium.

A draw would also be enough if Spain overcome Japan, as many expect, and Flick expects Costa Rica to set out defensively in order to take a point.

"If we look at the table then Costa Rica has an opportunity to go last 16 if they draw, so I assume they'll try to defend as much as possible as they did against Japan," he said. 

"It's important for us to find a solution. It's our own fault we're in this situation and now we have to do what we can. It's about giving 100 per cent and performing on the day."

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