Late at night, Hansi Flick said a sentence that said a lot about the performance of the German national team in the 1-1 draw on the first day of the Nations League in Bologna. “The Italians seemed a bit more attuned at times,” said the national coach, and when you look at the line-ups of the two teams, that didn’t bode well for the DFB team. Because while Flick alone sent seven players from Bayern Munich and largely the formation that should win the title at the World Cup in Qatar in just under half a year, Italy’s national coach Roberto Mancini initiated the urgently needed change so radically that even many fans the Azzurri some players hardly knew.

Six debutants came into play for the Italians and Mancini was delighted with the performance of his young, experimental team. “I was surprised by the courage of these young players against a big team like Germany, who are currently among the best in the world,” said Mancini.

However, there was not much to see of the high quality of the DFB team on Saturday evening in the heat of Bologna and Flick did not even look for any excuses. “We made too many mistakes to get into the rhythm. We lacked the intensity, a lot was missing,” said the national coach. After a very powerful initial phase, the German team lost the thread and seemed surprisingly absent for a long time in the second half. “We bought the guts,” criticized Flick.

Joshua Kimmich, who had at least prevented the first defeat in the tenth game under Flick with his equalizer, was very critical of his team’s performance. “We know that Italy is in a state of upheaval, that they may not have had a player or two on the pitch. That’s not enough for us, we wanted to win today.” The “Gazzetta dello Sport” still saw Kimmich as the best player in the DFB team, but described the German performance overall as “listless” and stated with some pride: “In official matches, the Germans just can’t beat Italy. We are their curse.” It’s the small joys of a battered football nation that has to watch a World Cup for the second time in a row.

For Mancini, Germany is one of the big favorites in Qatar despite the poor performance at the start of the Nations League. “With Argentina, Spain, Brazil and France, they are among the teams that have a good chance of reaching the final,” said the Italian coach.

For Flick, the Nations League, which continues on Tuesday (20.45, ZDF) with a home game in Munich against England, is all about preparation for the World Cup. “These games are a good challenge on our way,” said the national coach and, despite the short preparation time, announced that the game against the Italians would be reviewed in detail. “I was very happy with the training, but we couldn’t implement it that way. We have to analyze that,” said Flick.

The fact that his team, which had great individual advantages in almost every position, hardly managed to dominate the game, apart from the initial phase, gave the national coach food for thought. After a long season, much of the squad looked tired and ready for a holiday in the sweltering Bologna heat. The full-backs Benjamin Henrichs and Thilo Kehrer did not manage to advertise themselves, Timo Werner acted very inconspicuously up front and Leroy Sané made several careless mistakes.

Flick should make some changes for the game against England. “We will charge the batteries as quickly as possible so that we are back at 100 percent on Tuesday. We have a large, a good squad,” said the national coach, and then found a satisfying aspect of this difficult evening. “If I want to point out something positive, it’s that we came right back.”