You can actually no longer read the sentence, that bon mot that England’s former top striker Gary Lineker put into the world. You know: “Football is a simple game. 22 men chase a ball for 90 minutes and in the end the Germans always win.”

Even if Lineker has just nicely explained his dictum in the SZ: The saying is simply no longer up-to-date because it is simply no longer true. The Germans haven’t won in one go, so that it almost didn’t matter whether an opponent was on the pitch or not, for a long time. At least not in a big tournament.

In this respect, one wonders what ex-national coach Jürgen Klinsmann or world champion captain Philipp Lahm might have ridden when they formulate great expectations before the World Cup in Qatar, which begins on Sunday, and proclaim the semi-finals for the German team as the World Cup goal. “If they don’t win the title this time, then at least they have to prove with their performances that they’re again a contender by reaching the semifinals. That’s their mission,” Klinsmann wrote pompously in his BBC column.

So semifinals. At least! It’s always amazing how aspirations and reality diverge before major football tournaments. This may be understandable from a fan point of view, but when so-called experts just hide reality, it’s just annoying.

The reality looks like this: The DFB Elf ranks 11th in the FIFA rankings. The last two major tournaments were disappointing (WM-Aus in the preliminary round 2018, defeat in the round of 16 against England 2020). The team that Hansi Flick built and rebuilt looks anything but solid. From the most recent international matches, all that is actually remembered is a long series of draws – and a lot of construction work in defence, attack and on the flanks.

How seriously one expects the semi-finals from the German team, given their recent performances, will probably always remain the secret of Klinsmann, Lahm

Why not just say what is: This tournament will be a piñata in sporting terms. There are ten or twelve teams that – with a bit of luck on goal – can do the semi-finals. Among them is ALSO the German team with a little good will.

Making it a sacred duty is just an unnecessary nuisance for Hansi Flick and his team.