The minimum goal has been achieved, the opponent in the quarter-finals is still unknown: the last group game is taking a back seat for the German national ice hockey team. Against France on Tuesday (12.20 p.m./MagentaSport) it’s all about placing in Group B. “It won’t be a warm-up for the quarter-finals,” warned captain Moritz Müller. “We want to go into the next round with a good feeling and not take our foot off the gas.”

There are three possible opponents in the round of the best eight: world champion Canada, host Czech Republic or favorite opponent Switzerland. In 2010, 2021 and last year, the Swiss were the springboard to the semi-finals for the German Hockey Association’s selection. The German team also beat the Swiss in the knockout round for Olympic silver in 2018. “Somehow it always repeats itself,” smiled Dominik Kahun, who plays for SC Bern in Switzerland.

“Always fun” against Swiss

Germany’s top goalscorer JJ Peterka would also be looking forward to a duel with the Swiss. “It’s always fun to play against them. They might be a little afraid of us if you look at the last few years,” said the Buffalo Sabres’ NHL star. The former Munich player has scored five times in Ostrava so far. Peterka was also successful in the 3-1 win over Switzerland at the 2023 World Cup in Riga, Latvia.

The Swiss have had a very impressive tournament so far. With seven NHL professionals, coach Patrick Fischer’s team is no longer just a secret favorite, defeating hosts the Czech Republic in Prague after a penalty shootout. The euphoria surrounding the “Nati” with captain Roman Josi from the Nashville Predators is enormous, and not just among the fans. “Roman Josi walks across the ice like Jesus once walked across the water,” cheered the Swiss news portal “Watson” after the 8-0 win against Denmark.

Quarterfinals will become normal

The probability of a quarter-final repeat at the World Cup in the Czech Republic is given. However, the possible opponent will not be determined until Tuesday evening. If the German selection fulfills its mandatory task against France, they would come third in Group B and meet second in the table in Group A. “Of course we look at the other group,” explained Kahun. “We’ll play first, then we’ll see who our opponent is.”

The DEB selection has reached the World Cup quarter-finals for the fifth time in a row. What was once considered a success is now almost normal. “But I don’t think that’s normal,” said captain Müller and emphasized: “In a tournament, the pendulum can always quickly swing to the other side.”

The trend is upwards

The 37-year-old recalled the situation after the two 6-1 defeats against the USA and Sweden last week. Afterwards, the team sat down without national coach Harold Kreis and spoke out. “It was a do-or-die moment,” explained Müller. “Either we speak a few things and do them better and play a successful tournament or we continue to play like this and it won’t be good.”

The trend is impressive. There were three clear wins against Latvia (8:1), Kazakhstan (8:2) and Poland (4:2). Anything is possible in the knockout round, said Müller. Therefore, he doesn’t care what the opponent will be called in the quarterfinals. “In the end it’s a game in which everything is at stake,” explained the Kölner Haie veteran.