Joachim Löw needs to assess his own performance before he thinks about his players.
Löw’s decision making should be criticized and scrutinized. Leaving Marco Reus on the bench to start, continuing to ride the long-dead legs of Sami Khedira (more on him below), and waiting until it was too late to substitute, earmarked a horrific day for Löw. His loyalty to players like Khedira and Mesut Özil not only cost the team in its World Cup opener, but now has given every team a defined blueprint on how to attack Die Mannschaft when Löw bogs down the starting XI with players who can no longer provide what the team needs from them. The road to a repeat is not infinitely more difficult.
Germany lacked urgency and played with arrogance.
Germany thoroughly dominated the ball and had better chances over the course of the game, but never looked as if they felt the hunger to put the ball in the net. As we covered here, Germany is not going to have anyone lay down for them and, in fact, will experience just the opposite as their competitors will be extra-motivated to take down the reigning champions.
Aside of Löw’s questionable lineup calls and in-game tactics, Germany just looked content to settle for chances rather than create good opportunities. Whether it was relinquishing possession for shot attempts that were taken from too far away, or just overall choppy play in the final third, Germany just never looked in sync offensively - despite putting pressure on the Mexican defense for large parts of the game.
Worst of all, Germany just played as if Mexico was eventually going to fold. It was an arrogance that only a defending champion can have, but an attribute that Löw must break for the team to rebound. It was easy to say “R-E-L-A-X” after friendlies against Austria and Saudi Arabia, but there was no extra gear that kicked in at the start of the World Cup; just more of the same offensive indifference.
Sami Khedira is done.
Khedira, more than any Germany player, was invisible and had no positive effect on the game. The longer Löw rides him, the more the team will suffer. Khedira, whose position is supposed to, theoretically, sit deeper than where Toni Kroos plays, was one of the key players whose poor positioning allowed Mexico to lie in wait for a chance on the counter attack.
If Löw is going to let Khedira roam free like he’s some sort of offensive contributor, a more natural selection to play that role would be the younger, faster, and hungrier Leon Goretzka. The longer Khedira is in the lineup, the more Die Mannschaft will suffer.
Mexico won the game the only way they were going to; via the counterattack.
Juan Carlos Osorio had a game plan and El Tri executed it perfectly. Osorio was content to let his deep-sitting squad bend under the pressure of Germany, but to not allow the defending champions to break the Mexican defense. Following that, Mexico wanted to hit a quick counter-attack to capitalize on the Germans’ over exuberance on offense. It worked to perfection and Mexico did exactly what it needed to do to secure the victory.
In truth, Mexico set itself up perfectly to capitalize more on the counter-attack, but couldn’t quite find the finishing touch.
xG map for Germany - Mexico. Because xG is based on shot attempts, this map does not include the eighteen gabillion 3-on-1 counters that Mexico wasted. pic.twitter.com/TZEFOxeWLk— Caley Graphics (@Caley_graphics) June 17, 2018
Hirving Lozano’s 35th minute goal would be all that Mexico would need to send a lackadaisical German side away scratching its head and wondering how it got here.
Man könnte jetzt durchaus aus dem Spiel schließen: Mexiko hatte die bessere Vorbereitung... #GERMEX— Christian Falk (@cfbayern) June 17, 2018
One could now quite conclude from the game: Mexico had the better preparation...