Berlin (AFP) – Germany’s 3-0 defeat to the Netherlands on Saturday left them bottom of their Nations League group ahead of Tuesday’s away match against world champions France.
Three months after the World Cup debacle, head coach Joachim Loew is desperate for a win at the Stade de France to ease the pressure as a sixth defeat of 2018 would be a new record for a senior Germany team.
Here are five reasons for Germany’s dismal form:
Loew stuck in rut
Despite the woeful World Cup displays in Russia, where Germany crashed out after finishing bottom of their group, Loew sticks by his Brazil 2014 winners — even when past their prime.
The likes of Thomas Mueller, Jerome Boateng and Mats Hummels are nowhere near the form which won the 2014 world title, yet Loew lacks the bravery to replace them with up-and-coming talent.
“At some point, Loew has to consider how much longer will it make sense for him to put his trust in established, experienced players,” questioned ex-Germany captain Oliver Kahn, now a TV pundit.
A soft centre
At 32, Manuel Neuer is sadly no longer the world-class goalkeeper he was after twice fracturing his foot in 2017.
In front of him, Boateng, 30, and Hummels, 29, often leave gaps.
In attack, Mueller’s finishing has deserted him and Toni Kroos, 28, often struggles to marshall the midfield.
Loew needs a new spine in his team to rely on, even if the players do not seem to want to see it.
Hummels’ post-match analysis after the Dutch drubbing that “a lot was good” bemused German fans.
Loew was more accurate when he said he needed his senior players to “take responsibility in the final 10 minutes” when the German defence capitulated.
A goal drought
Only ten goals in the last twelve games speaks for itself — Germany are no longer a force to be feared in their opponents’ penalty area.
Hummels claim it was “a mixture of bad luck and lack of finishing” as Germany had no goals to show for 21 shots while the Dutch scored three times with their 14 attempts and hit the crossbar.
Mueller and his second-half replacement Leroy Sane both missed clear chances.
Worryingly, there is no hot-shot ace waiting in the wings as Loew gave the 27-year-old Mark Uth his debut in Amsterdam, even though the Schalke forward has yet to score for his club this season.
Even at the World Cup, there was a clear division between the young and old factions in the squad.
Of those who won the 2017 Confederations Cup, only Timo Werner, 22, Julian Draxler, 25, Jonas Hector, 28, and Joshua Kimmich, 23, are regulars.
The remaining 2014 World Cup winners still seem to get preferential treatment.
Loew has younger talent at his disposal, like Sane, who too often is given only brief opportunities to show what he can do.
In post-match interviews, it was clear Kimmich and Draxler do not understand why Loew does not turn to their generation to build for the future.
A strong team spirit would have prevented the Germans falling apart like they did against the Dutch.
Germany are mediocre
As daily newspaper Welt bluntly put it on Sunday: “3-0 defeat to the Netherlands – Germany is just a mediocre European nation”.
Sane, Draxler, Julian Brandt and especially Kimmich have talent, but their generation lacks a stand-out star like Kylian Mbappe, who helped France win the World Cup.
Defeat on Tuesday to the French in Paris would leave Germany on the verge of relegation to the B division of the Nations League to face the likes of the Czech Republic, Wales or Sweden — teams currently more at Germany’s level.
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