Joachim Low has demanded a reaction from his young Germany team against Group C leaders Northern Ireland on Monday after their recent resurgence was cut short by their Euro 2020 qualifying 4-2 defeat to the Netherlands.
Having come into the international break on a wave of optimism, Low’s side now travel to Belfast on Monday needing a win to keep their qualification campaign on course against a Northern Irish side yet to drop a point in four qualifying matches.
“We need to win, we need to approach the game in such a way that we leave the pitch as winners,” said Low on Friday.
Germany had just begun to find their feet after a long period of recovery from their disastrous campaign at last year’s World Cup.
The group stage exit in Russia prompted a major generational overhaul, and after three wins in a row in 2019, Low’s new-look young team were full of confidence ahead of Friday’s game.
Victory over the Dutch would have put second-placed Germany nine points clear of their rivals and left Germany on the brink of automatic qualification.
Instead, they now find themselves only three points above the play-off place, having played a game more than the Netherlands.
“We will need to pick the young players up a bit and give them the feeling that they can be stronger. I am sure we will see a reaction on Monday,” said Low.
The Germany coach, who was criticised for playing with a back three and allowing his team to sit deep against the Netherlands, also said that he would make tactical changes against Northern Ireland.
“Northern Ireland are amazingly robust, they play a lot of long balls. They will sit deeper and we will not have much space, so we need to think of something tactically,” he said.
Low defended his tactics, yet the German media remained critical on Saturday.
Berlin daily Der Tagesspiegel warned that “lessons must be learned” from the defeat to the Netherlands, while the country’s biggest tabloid Bild said that “alarm bells” were now ringing around the qualification campaign.
Kicker magazine claimed there was “no need to panic yet”, but Germany captain Manuel Neuer warned his side against complacency ahead of their visit to Belfast.
“We know that anything can happen in football, we experienced that ourselves in 2018, so it is important we take this game seriously,” he told Bild newspaper.
“It is not ideal for us to be playing an away game in Belfast right now. They have won all their games so far and it is always difficult to score goals against such opponents.”
Holland head coach Ronald Koeman hailed a “great evening” after the Dutch recorded their first win in Germany for almost 17 years.
Late goals from debutant Donyell Malen and Georginio Wijnaldum sealed a 4-2 victory in Hamburg which puts Koeman’s side right back in contention in Group C qualifying for next year’s European Championship.
Not since November 2002 had Holland beaten their neighbours in their own back yard. That day, they enjoyed a 3-1 success thanks to goals from Patrick Kluivert, Ruud Van Nistelrooy and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink.
The win moved the Dutch to within three points of second-placed Germany with a game in hand.
“It is a great evening and we have won very well,” Koeman told onsoranje.nl.
“The difference was that we did more to get the win and it makes the world of difference in the group.
“It is very nice that you know how to win here. We still have to play five games, so we are not there yet. But it makes the road a bit easier.”
Serge Gnabry’s early goal saw Germany lead at half-time but Frenkie De Jong’s strike and a Jonathan Tah own goal turned the game on its head just before the midway point of the second half.
A controversial penalty scored by Toni Kroos levelled things up before Malen quickly restored Holland’s lead with 11 minutes remaining and Wijnaldum made sure of victory in injury time.
Koeman was pleased with the resilience his team showed to come back from a goal down.
“I found Germany very expectant. They have one weapon and that is speed and it can become 2-0 at 1-0,” he said.
“The Germans were just tired in the second half. They didn’t look as good as in the first half, but they had good chances.
“There is faith in this team and that was the message at half time. We said stay in the game, don’t open things up, because there is always a chance of a goal.”
The defeat leaves Germany three points behind group leaders Northern Ireland, who they play next on Monday in Belfast.
Head coach Joachim Low felt Holland deserved to win on the night.
He told www.dfb.de: “I’m disappointed with the result. Netherlands were the better team over the course of 90 minutes. We deserve to lose.
“Unfortunately, I never felt like we had the game under control. We lost too many balls going forward and we never got into the dangerous areas.
“In the second half, the Netherlands applied a lot more pressure, we couldn’t play out way out. Manuel Neuer received a lot of passes and that’s not the game understanding we want to have.”
Provided by Press Association Sport
England manager Gareth Southgate believes his team can help to give the nation a feel-good factor amid an uncertain political backdrop – but insists he is not getting excited about Euro 2020 just yet.
With confusion and unpredictability surrounding Brexit and a potential general election, the United Kingdom still seemingly remains divided.
The Three Lions helped alleviate such concerns for a period on their run to the World Cup semi-finals last summer but the unrest remains.
Now Southgate’s side are back in Euro 2020 qualification action, taking on Bulgaria at Wembley on Saturday before a trip to Southampton’s St Mary’s Stadium three days later for the visit of Kosovo.
With the England cricket team – and in particular the superb Ashes Test-winning innings from Ben Stokes almost a fortnight ago – lifting spirits, Southgate is now aware it is he and his players who many will turn to for light relief.
Asked if football can give the country something to feel good about, he told BBC Radio 5 Live: “Yes, I’m very conscious of that.
“We have helped to provide joy at a time when there isn’t a lot about for people. The cricket team have done that in a couple of significant moments already this year and I have loved watching that.
“The World Cup final was brilliant and the Ben Stokes innings was a real last stand of British resilience and, living in Yorkshire, the atmosphere at Headingley probably added to that as well.
“We all love those moments, sport should do that – sport should take you away from the day-to-day and allow us to dream and allow us to be excited about things that, in the overall scheme of things, aren’t important. There are far more important things, but we can bring joy to people and it is a privilege to be in a position to be able to do it.”
While Southgate believes the qualifiers are attractive fixtures for the home fans – and there is no doubt reaching Euro 2020, with the semi-finals and final to be held at Wembley, would truly be something for the country to get behind – he will not allow himself to get carried away just yet.
“It’s hugely exciting for everybody,” he added.
“I feel as if we’ve started to build that excitement whenever we play now, which is fantastic. I know the level that that can go to, but I can’t afford to be carried away with that, that’s brilliant for everybody else to experience.
“Somebody’s got to be in control of what we’re doing and making sure we’re on the right path and not too far ahead of ourselves, because we’ve got a lot of improvement to do to make that a really strong possibility.
Provided by Press Association Sport