Hansi Flick is playing hide and seek again. In his landmark week of probation as national coach, the 58-year-old only gives very few insights into his plans for the tricky international matches this Saturday (8:45 p.m. / RTL) in Wolfsburg against Japan and then against France.

In the two games, Flick has to bring about a change in mood with the national soccer team in the host country of the European Championship. Nobody was allowed to watch the standard training two days before the game. And the day before, no observers were allowed on the grounds of VfL Wolfsburg during the 5-0 win in the internal test against the U20 team of the DFB. And yet Flick’s explosive business game with his previous midfield boss and captain Joshua Kimmich made it to the outside via “Bild”.

Kimmich back on the outside?

There are some indications that the 28-year-old Kimmich, who sees and understands himself as the main character in the center of the German game, has to go back to the right – i.e. to the edge of the field. There, where his DFB career once began as the successor to Philipp Lahm. Where he had to help out at the last EM 2021 – albeit extremely reluctantly.

Flick did not confirm the variant as fixed before his press conference the day before the game. He could also field Benjamin Henrichs at right-back. The 26-year-old has been filling the DFB problem position in Leipzig consistently well for some time. Of course, Flick would only ask Kimmich for something that he has just postulated as the top priority on the way to the home European Championship: “Every individual should and must put their ego behind and put themselves at the service of the team. The star is the team, not the individual.”

Flick has already forced Kimmich to play full-back – as a Bayern coach in the Champions League triumph with FC Bayern in 2020. Since Benjamin Pavard was injured, Kimmich also had to help out on the right at the final tournament in Lisbon.

Looking for “core team”.

But is that the best EM solution now? After all, after the failed international experiments in March and June, Flick now wants to form “a core team”. Kimmich is apparently supposed to fill a kind of hybrid role, as a right defender who slides into the center when moving forward, while at the back the row of four becomes a row of three. This is a tactical invention by Pep Guardiola at Manchester City, but it requires a lot of training and automatism, which is rather difficult for a national team.

Flick’s Kimmich plans are also explosive beyond the DFB team. Kimmich, who would like to be boss so much, always named the head office as his favorite position. He should perceive a shift back to the right as a gradation. Especially before the big six-man debate this summer at FC Bayern, where coach Tuchel really wanted to have a so-called “holding six”. “We don’t have a defensive six that thinks more about protecting the back zone,” argued Tuchel.

The signing of Portugal international João Palhinha from Fulham fell through on the last day of the transfer period, to Tuchel’s displeasure, which became another major political issue in Munich. Kimmich or Leon Goretzka, who is currently being sorted out by Flick, followed the six-man debate closely – and were noticeably irritated. “I’m a six,” said Kimmich during FC Bayern’s Asia trip in the summer. It sounded more like: “I! Am! One! Six!”

Change of position at the wrong time

A change of position in the national team would be almost untimely for Kimmich. It would not be conducive to his claim to leadership. Flick tends to appoint Dortmund’s Emre Can as his “holding six” and triple winner Ilkay Gündogan as the thinker and driver of the midfield game. For several years, the midfield was the shared territory of Kimmich and Goretzka, not only at Bayern but also in the DFB team.

Kimmich – alongside Flick – is also at the center of the debates this week. He wanted to shape an era in the national team – so to speak, as class representative of the supposedly golden 1995 generation around Goretzka, Gnabry, Süle. So far, however, the Kimmich generation has stood for the 2018 and 2022 World Cup flops and the early end of the EM two years ago. However, neither Flick nor Tuchel shake Kimmich as a regular. The Bayern coach likes to call Kimmich “our strategist who wants to do everything and can do everything”. But it wasn’t in “Kimmich’s DNA to be a purely defensive six”. This should serve as an aid to him.

On Saturday (8.45 p.m. / RTL) Kimmich will appear for Germany for the 80th time. Only the subsequently nominated Bayern colleague Thomas Müller can show more appearances in the DFB squad with 121. And yet Kimmich should have to fit into a new role.