More questions than answers for three-time winners
For a squad packed with figures from Bayern Munich’s 2019-20 Champions League triumph and an abundance of exciting youngsters, the current iteration of Germany’s national side is remarkably inconsistent.
- Their 6-0 thrashing in Spain grabbed headlines, and is bound to leave scars, yet was symptomatic of a general malaise against top-quality opposition: in ten Nations League matches, they have only beaten Ukraine.
- The architect of Germany’s World Cup win in 2014, Joachim Low once was untouchable. But he has squandered much of that credibility in the last couple of years, his reputation sullied by his team’s early exit from the World Cup 2018 and poor displays in the Nations League.
- His inexplicable decision to jettison three of his side’s elder statesmen: attacking midfielder Thomas Muller and centre-backs Jerome Boateng and Mats Hummels – has not helped.
Low has tended to use a back three recently, usually in a 3-4-3 or 3-4-1-2 system, which many pundits regard as overly cautious. Yet plan B – 4-3-3 – has coincided with defensive lapses in 3-3 draws against Switzerland and Turkey, and that mauling in Spain.
Once a fine right-back, the Bayern ace offers even more in midfield. Assists galore guaranteed.
After 14 years in the post, Jogi is under pressure like never before. Time for a change?
Ever since the great Philipp Lahm retired from international duty back in 2014, the left side of Germany’s defence has proved something of a Bermuda Triangle for Low, with a raft of candidates falling by the wayside.
Now the baton has passed to the 26-year-Gosens, a late-developer whose attacking skills and energy have played such a prominent part in Atalanta’s emergence as a force in both Italy and Europe.
Gosens, who made his full debut for Germany in a Nations League encounter with Spain last September, was in the enviable position of being spoilt for choice with his senior international options. Born to a German mother and Dutch father less than ten miles from the Netherlands border, the former Vitesse and Heracles wing-back was headhunted by the KNVB last summer, and even held informal talks with then-Oranje head coach Ronald Koeman.
Ultimately, though, he plumped for Germany, the land where he grew up. “I simply feel like a German,” he declared.
Article by Nick Bidwell
This article first appeared in the January Edition of World Soccer. You can purchase old issues of the magazine by clicking here.