Julian Nagelsmann’s choice of words was not suitable for American ears. “If you lose, that’s it…” said the new national coach before his debut game against the USA. There was a long beep in the ESPN video, signaling that a vulgar word had been used.

A defeat at the premiere as DFB head coach with the national soccer team on Saturday (9 p.m./RTL) in Pratt, which was sold out with almost 40,000 spectators

Football Germany is suffering so much from the agonizing lack of success. That’s why the great hope Nagelsmann prefers to talk about winning before kick-off. “That’s the most important topic to get a good mood. In football it’s always like that, when you win, everything you did before was good,” said the 36-year-old. In any case, the commitment that the national coach showed in his first days of training in Foxborough was good. Nagelsmann always seemed a few steps ahead.

Hummels wants to “stoke the fire”

He couldn’t get on the pitch quickly enough. With his expansive strides, he often outpaced his assistants Sandro Wagner and Mads Budgereit, who were rushing behind him, by a few meters. Then, undeterred by a threateningly close fountain, Nagelsmann positioned himself behind a lawn sprinkler and quickly moved a few red magnetic buttons into the correct position on the tactics board that was always present on the edge of the practice area. The head coach now clearly cares about every detail.

“What the situation in which we have lost a lot means is that we don’t sell these friendly games as such to ourselves. We absolutely want to win and start well right away,” said Bayern veteran Thomas Müller (34). “To stoke the fire that can carry the country at the home European Championships, two wins may not be a basic requirement, but they would be very important,” argued Müller’s friend and DFB returnee Mats Hummels (34) in the same vein.

Nagelsmann’s coordinates are clear. Momentum trumps perspective. And extra tactical loops do not bring any additional profit on the project path to the home European Championship in 2024. “He consciously mentioned it two or three times so that he obviously didn’t want to keep it too complicated,” reported Müller, who otherwise noticed little change in Nagelsmann compared to his time at Bayern, which ended with a bang in March.

Nagelsmann knows how much an opening win would set the mood in the right direction. Otherwise, he can also ask Rudi Völler directly, who quickly promoted him to the national coaching job in September and is closely monitoring developments in the USA. Under team boss Völler, Germany won the first game in 2000 against Spain 4-1 in a similarly bleak situation – less than two years later, Germany found itself, completely unexpectedly, in the World Cup final against Brazil in Japan.

4-2-2-2 as a system formula

Football Germany needs similar euphoria again. Even if Müller can no longer tolerate the demands on the national team to be responsible for the mood in the country. “But I don’t believe that we always have to fight for every fan’s favor and always create a sense of optimism. I called it cheese and it’s still cheese. We’re there so we have to fully focus on winning games “The games create a sense of optimism,” he said.

“You can do team building events, you can push all sorts of things, but successes on the pitch are what bear fruit,” seconded Hummels. The last national coach to lose an opening game was Erich Ribbeck in 1998, 0-1 in Turkey. An existing parallel to the Ribbeck era should not be an obstacle to success. 28.5 years on average. The last time a DFB team was this old was under “Sir Erich” at the end of the 1990s. The team oldies Müller and Hummels, world champions together in Rio 2014, are symbols of the commitment to maturity under Nagelsmann, who is just two years older. There are twelve professionals over 30 in the 26-man squad.

On the one hand, quickly creating stability and at the same time enabling the desire to attack again – these are the current footballing challenges. Attentive observers were able to determine in the short camp on the US East Coast: 4-2-2-2. This is the system formula with which Nagelsmann wants to achieve both. These “basic principles”, as Nagelsmann would say, were missing at the sad end of the unhappy era of predecessor Hansi Flick.

Use of Kimmich against the USA uncertain

“A big keyword is that we find the right positions in our group as a team in the various processes,” said Müller. Nagelsmann will rely on an axis that does not necessarily include Müller, but alongside captain Ilkay Gündogan (32) and his favorite Munich player Joshua Kimmich (28) in the headquarters. As long as he completely cured his mild cold in time, which forced him to take a break during the final training session. Kimmich had not been able to train with his colleagues the day before.

Should Kimmich not be able to play against the USA, his Munich colleague Leon Goretzka or Pascal Groß from Brighton would be available