Lothar Matthaus claims Hansi Flick gave Japan “an invitation to attack” by taking off star players

Lothar Matthaus claims Hansi Flick gave Japan “an invitation to attack” by taking off star players

Germany legend Lothar Matthaus claims Hansi Flick gave Japan “an invitation to attack” by taking off Havertz, Muller and Musiala early in shock defeat – comparing it to when he was dismissed in the 1999 Champions League final

Lothar Matthaus has criticized Germany manager Hansi Flick’s substitutions in their shock opener against Japan on Wednesday in Qatar.

The German legend compared the result to Bayern Munich’s last minute defeat to Manchester United in the 1999 Champions League final – where Matthaus was taken off late on.

As the overwhelming favorites for the tie began to falter, the former Bayern manager rang the changes, taking off Ilkay Gundogan, Kai Havertz, Jamal Musiala, Thomas Muller and Serge Gnabry – a move Matthaus disagrees with.

Lothar Matthaus has criticized Hansi Flick's substitutions late in the match against Japan

Lothar Matthaus has criticized Hansi Flick’s substitutions late in the match against Japan

Chelsea's Kai Havertz was among the German flops who received a low score in Bild's ratings

Chelsea’s Kai Havertz was among the German flops who received a low score in Bild’s ratings

Two late goals sank the Germans in the opening game of Group E at the Khalifa Stadium

“I thought about the final in 1999, when (Ottmar) Hitzfeld substituted me shortly before the end, and Manchester United won 2-1.

“You take a personality off the court that your opponent respects and you let them know that you feel safe, too safe! An invitation to attack. It was like that now.

“Substituting Müller and Gündogan, two experienced players at the same time, lost the order. The rhythm was lost.’

Bild gave five German players a score of 5 – the second lowest possible – after the loss

Bild gave five German players a score of 5 – the second lowest possible – after the loss

After taking the lead through an Ilkay Gundogan penalty in the first half, Germany had looked set to take all three points against Japan on Wednesday.

But a second-half comeback, inspired by Ritsu Doan and Takuma Asano, saw the underdogs fight back to claim victory and surprise both Germany and the football world.

But the team didn’t work incredibly well before the changes were made, either, and the whole team came in for a scathing review from Bild.

In total, five players from the team were awarded a rating of 5 – the second lowest possible score according to the German outlet’s rating system.

Havertz was joined by Gnabry, David Raum, Nicklas Sule and Nico Schlotterbeck.

At 1-0, the former Bayern boss began making changes, with Gundogan and Muller making way for Leon Goretzka and Jonas Hoffman respectively.

Hansi Flick's side must now beat Spain on Sunday to save their hopes of progression

Hansi Flick’s side must now beat Spain on Sunday to save their hopes of progression

But after Japan’s equalizer through Freiburg’s Doan, another double change saw the woeful Havertz replaced with Niclas Fuulkrug and Musiala hooked for 2014 hero Mario Gotze.

Matthaus compared the submarines to Bayern's late defeat to Manchester United in 1999

Matthaus compared the submarines to Bayern’s late defeat to Manchester United in 1999

Then after Japan’s dramatic second goal – which turned out to be the winner – Gnabry was taken off for youngster Youssoufa Moukoko in a final, desperate throw from Flick, which ultimately failed.

But it wasn’t just the substitutions that were saved by Matthaus, who also had as much to criticize in Flick’s starting XI before the match.

“I always stand by Hansi Flick, but I didn’t understand a few things about the game. The national coach must endure questions, he said.

“For example, the formation of the hills. Why doesn’t (Thilo) Kehrer, who has always played recently, play? The goals that were conceded came from outside. Süle is not a full-back. At 2-1, the position is far too far forward, but defenders are there to defend.

“Then Schlotterbeck looks surprised, doesn’t go aggressive enough, Süle cancels offside.”

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