Rudi Völler had already proclaimed his central slogan for the Herculean task against fearful opponents France with World Cup top scorer Kylian Mbappé before he even spoke as interim team boss.

“Nobody can have their pants full,” said the DFB sports director, sweaty and “shocked” after the 4-1 defeat against Japan, which was also “embarrassing” for him. Already on the night in Wolfsburg, the 63-year-old had felt internally that there would no longer be a bright future with Hansi Flick at the home European Championships in 2024.

Völler holds the players accountable

During his comeback to the DFB coaching bench 19 years after his resignation, Völler is supposed to stop the decline of the national soccer team in Dortmund on Tuesday (9 p.m./ARD) and ideally bring about a change in the mood in the country. And for this, the former fan favorite holds the current generation of players, who could no longer (or did not want to?) deliver under Flick, especially responsible. “We have to try to regain credit,” warned Völler.

He simply believes that a team with professionals like Ilkay Gündogan, Marc-André ter Stegen, Antonio Rüdiger or Joshua Kimmich who have proven themselves in many Champions League games can and must do more than in the five international games without a win in the apocalyptic atmosphere under Flick .

“The players can do it too, they all come from top clubs and show their performance – and I expect that on Tuesday too,” said Völler. The DFB entourage traveled by bus from Wolfsburg to Dortmund on Monday. There, supported by U20 selection coach Hannes Wolf and ex-national player Sandro, Völler had to prepare the team, which was totally insecure but perhaps now freed from doubts and ballast, for the French in just one training session. Local hero Niklas Süle, who left the team at least temporarily due to the impending birth of his second child, could miss out.

“We have a game against the best team in Europe at the moment. That will of course be difficult,” said Völler. But he added a sentence in the self-image of the 1990 world champion: “We are still Germany.” A football nation, that was the subtext.

Association is working on the successor solution

Völler’s team boss comeback is planned as a one-off event – the association around DFB President Bernd Neuendorf wants to present a successor solution for Flick as quickly as possible. Names from Jürgen Klopp to Julian Nagelsmann are traded, no matter how true and, above all, how realistic they are. The group of candidates is not large shortly after the start of the season. But Völler could buy the association valuable time with a bright spot in results and performance against France. The DFB team is going on a trip to the USA in October.

What immediate action will the former world-class striker take? First and foremost, Völler will try to give the team security and stability in the formation and tactical orientation and to rely on experience. In short: no further experiments. Back to the 4-2-3-1 system that has been tried and tested for years, possibly with Joshua Kimmich (80 international matches) and Ilkay Gündogan (68 appearances) as experienced double sixes in midfield and with DFB veteran Thomas Müller (122) as a reaction to that Center Forward Emergency. After conceding 13 goals in the last five international matches, Völler named one main problem that annoys him: “We simply defend poorly.”

It is now the players’ turn, Flick is no longer an alibi. “We have to question ourselves,” said Kimmich, who, with a view to the big challenge against the Équipe Tricolore Angst, strictly denied (“zero!”) and instead gave this route: “It’s not about us playing well and about relay passes come into play, but we have to do everything we can to achieve good results.” With the fans behind you.

First test without Flick against strong French

The Bayern professional called for a return to the basics of football: “We make a lot of mistakes. Accordingly, it is now important that we bring other attributes onto the pitch, passion and so on. That’s what it’s all about now.”

The French, with their well-rehearsed team and their numerous offensive experts such as Mbappé, Antoine Griezmann, Ousmane Dembélé, Randal Kolo Mouani, Marcus Thuram or even Bayern’s Kingsley Coman, are certainly not suitable as building opponents. National coach Didier Deschamps’ team started their European Championship qualifying group with a flawless five wins and 11-0 goals, including a 4-0 win against the Netherlands.

The last defeat and the last goals conceded came in the 3-3 draw in the thrilling World Cup final in Qatar against Argentina and Lionel Messi only lost on penalties. Even a Völler comeback won’t be enough as an answer. “I wouldn’t have imagined that it would be so difficult in the last few weeks and months,” groaned the sports director, who actually didn’t want to move from the stands to the coaching bench.