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Kroos and Kimmich question German support, as the DFB laments low fan numbers in Russia

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The relentless criticism of the German national team in the news has not been lost on the players, who also have precious little support from fans in Russia itself.

Germany Training And Press Conference Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images

Germany may have picked up three points and saved themselves from an embarrassing group-stage elimination, but some members of the team wonder whether some Germans would have preferred to see them fail.

Toni Kroos, who saved the team from a group stage exit by scoring the late winner against Sweden, said that he had the feeling that some Germans may even have been disappointed by Die Mannschaft’s dramatic survival (TZ):

I had the feeling that relatively many people in Germany would have been happy if we had been knocked out. But we won’t make it so easy for them. Everything that people have read anywhere was extremely negative. I am gradually getting the feeling that there is always a little schadenfreude there, if you can criticize something.

Kroos’s teammate, Bayern Munich right-back Joshua Kimmich, shares his opinion. Kimmich likewise feels that the German media seems dedicated to attacking the team:

We represent our entire country. There are 82 million people behind us. If you follow it in the press, it’s wild what’s going down there and how everything is being sensationalized... You don’t have the feeling that the whole country is behind you. The spectators maybe, but as for the press, you get a different impression. There’s a difference between productive criticism and jumping on a criticism bandwagon. It’s also the case that lots of experts speak up and sensationalize the whole thing. It’s unnecessary.

The team also has little fan support at hand in Russia itself. While Russia’s streets are flooded with people from other countries celebrating their nation's participation in the World Cup, the DFB is disappointed by the low number of German fans who have made the trip to see their team (Bild).

Outside of the official DFB fan club, which bought up 70,000 tickets, only some 2000 fans have come to Moscow and virtually none elsewhere in Russia. DFB vice-president Rainer Koch lamented Germany’s poor attendance:

It’s striking with what hospitality and friendliness the Russians greet us Germans. It’s a shame that more German fans have not come to Russia. Many more are here from the rest of the world. The world will not get better, at any rate, if we don’t speak to each other.

A German fan also spoke described his lonely existence on the streets of Russia in stark contrast to the fervor of the South American fans setting Moscow abuzz:

You hardly have the heart to sing German songs on the streets in Moscow. Nobody would hear us anyway, though, as loud and boisterously as the South Americans celebrate here. It’s crazy! They really cheer for their teams. There’s an incredible number of Mexicans and Argentinians here. It’s great to see, but sad that there are so few German fans here.

There are many factors behind the low numbers — from cheap flights in and out, to expensive Russian hotels outside Moscow, to the political climate between Germany and Russia. But perhaps the biggest reason is what Bild described as a “cooling off” to the relationship between the German team and its fans over the past year: international friendlies are no longer sold out, and fans have very little direct access to Germany’s stars. Whatever the real reason behind it, the German team will attempt to rally their nation’s support with a decisive victory over Korea tomorrow.