Disaster. Calamity. Crisis. These words give a fair reflection of Joachim Low’s Germany after they embarrassingly slipped to League B in the UEFA Nations League. The damage has already been done and the Germans now play for pride against Netherlands in their final group game. The Dutch can qualify for the semifinals with a draw but Germany’s fate is sealed.
Germany’s performances in the World Cup and the Nations League portray the incompetency of the team and coach Low. This set in two years ago, but touched the surface only recently.
The tip of the iceberg is represented by an aging squad, but the complications just begin here for Die Mannschaft. The team must share blame for their dismal show, but Low has to own up and part ways with the federation if the Germans are to gain a shot at redemption in the near future.
Evolution is necessary in football, no matter what the team has achieved.
Germany have failed to evolve since their 2014 World Cup win and the teams which have done so have trampled over the former champions.
Low has not established any particular tactical identity with his German team. He relied on talented individuals gelling in to form an efficient machine which can adapt to the most viable system during that particular season.
The position-possession based system which was prevalent in Bayern Munich four years ago during Pep Guardiola’s regime was partly incorporated into the national team and as Philip Lahm said, this helped them in their World Cup campaign.
Even a system as superior as the one that fetched them football’s greatest prize is vulnerable to time if it’s not improvised. The first few signs of warning popped up during the pre-World Cup friendlies when Germany was defeated by Brazil and then Austria before defeating an underwhelming Saudi Arabia thanks to an own goal.
A combination of horrible individual performances and Low’s inability to adapt to the demands of the tournament knocked Germany out of the World Cup, rather prematurely.
Low did not have a plan B to stop Mexico’s Hirving Lozano or break the fort South Korea erected in front of goal. Strings of meaningless possession usually ended with a half-hearted cross cleared away comfortably by the Korean defence.
“Stupidity is doing the same things over and over and expecting different results.” Albert Einstein’s quote has never been more apt
Terrible team selection
Germany emerged victorious in the Under-21 World Cup and the Confederations Cup in 2017. They won the latter with their B team, hence boasting of some unfathomable bench strength.
Yet, this ‘depth’ was hardly tested as Low was too stubborn to bench the big names.
Playing Jerome Boateng and Mats Hummels as centre-backs in a high-line against a counter-attacking team in 2018 was a bit too optimistic.
In hind-sight, it probably wouldn’t have made much of a difference. But choosing goalkeeper Manuel Neuer who was side-lined due to injury for the entire season ahead of Marc-Andre ter Stegen coming back from a spectacular season was questionable, no matter how great the former was for his country in the past.
The World Cup winning coach assured that he will assess the situation after the nightmare in Russi, but the evidence so far suggests nothing along those lines.
Low went with the same centre-back pairing of Hummels and Boateng against Netherlands with Joshua Kimmich, a right-back playing in the heart of midfield. The versatile Bayern Munich player is capable of undertaking more than one role, but playing him in midfield only to vacate the right-back spot for Matthias Ginter, a centre-back, makes one wonder if the coach himself knew what he was doing.
To make matters worse, Mark Uth, a striker who was yet to score a goal this season, made the starting line-up.
The squad needs to be revamped if Die Mannschaft want to dig themselves out of the hole that they’ve put themselves in. Joachim Low’s sacking should lead the charge in the rebuilding process.
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