Nick Bidwell’s Notes from Germany: Low has to pick up the pieces after Mexico defeat
Beaten for the first time in a World Cup opener in 36 years, Germany did not merely fluff the odd line in their shock 1-0 loss to a vibrant Mexico in Moscow. Here was a rare case of the Nationalmannschaft forgetting entire acts of dialogue.
Of course, no team is immune to an off-day. Not even the world champions. But what will be especially worrying for Bundestrainer Joachim Löw is how his side so comprehensively failed to get to grips with the opposition, so dramatically mislaid their slick, ultra-confident football.
This was not one of those defeats sparked by a twist of fate. Löw’s eleven were beaten every which way by ‘El Tri’. Outrun, outfought and thoroughly outsmarted. Germany simply had no answers to the crafty Mexican gameplan: the lightning counter-attacks, the pace in wide areas, the stifling press in the middle of the park and frequent use of the long ball, a ploy which constantly had the Deutschland back-line rocking.
Rather than their usual well-oiled machine, Germany ended up as a pile of broken parts, with busted assignments the order of the day. Ever-adventurous right-back Joshua Kimmich continually caught out of position, supposed holding midfielder Sami Khedira waving runners through and the ponderous, unimaginative displays in attack of Thomas Muller, Mesut Ozil and Julian Draxler.
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Similar to a designer garment becoming unstitched, Germany gave the ball away no fewer than 36 times in a disastrous first-half, a marked lapse in standards for a team which prides itself on its care in possession. Without control, they are a completely different animal. One that does not bite.
As Germany centre-back Mats Hummels rightly pointed in a post-match interview, the main DFB fault-line is their unbalanced line-up: ” If you have seven or eight creatively-minded players, it’s obvious that attacking momentum outweighs defensive stability. I’ve often talked about this issue internally, but it hasn’t quite been acted upon. You have to say our defensive security is not good. Often we only had Jerome (Boateng) and I at the back. And the Mexicans were able to ruthlessly hit us on the break. We now have to win our next two matches or that will be that. “
Former national team keeper turned TV pundit Oliver Kahn believes Germany under Low have become too predictable, arguing that a more flexible approach is required. ” Our DNA has been decoded, ” he told viewers on the ZDF channel. ” Our game is way too easy to work out. It’s just not surprising enough. This was a tactical victory for the Mexicans. Our success at the last World Cup was based on changing formations, using systems the opposition didn’t expect. Other teams are going to put a man-marker on our key midfielder Toni Kroos. It’s a problem we have to prepare for.”
Much food thought for ‘Jogi’ Low. One faux-pas is all he is allowed. Another will be fatal.
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