In true recent Joachim Löw fashion, this game was not very pretty. The Germans made mistake after mistake and are fortunate that Serbia had problems finishing today; otherwise this could’ve easily been a defeat by a couple of goals.
At the same time, you have to commend Germany for at least staying in it and fighting back. That was a problem at the World Cup in Russia, but it didn’t knock Germany out of any group stage today. That said, there were plenty of things that found their way to work against Die Mannschaft.
Moving on from players will take time
Whether it was the unmarked man on Serbia’s goal or the struggles in attack, it was clear that Germany were missing the recently axed Bayern trio. Frankly, that’s to be expected. There’s no way to move on from players like Mats Hummels, Jerome Boateng, and Thomas Müller in only one game. Support the decision or not, you have to respect that Löw was willing to make such a big decision. Why did he make it? It’s time for another German youth revolution. The generational talents we revere today — Müller, Kroos, Neuer, and so on — were once in a similar position.
We can argue about how the coach is going about this integration all day long, but the fact of the matter is those players who got their breakthroughs 10 or more years ago didn’t get it from sitting on the bench. They got it from getting out on the field and gaining experience and learning from games like these. So while we may not like the scoreline, we have to appreciate what it means for our future. It may take some time and have some rough patches, but patience will pay off. We have to trust the process.
New players, same old problems
It looks as though the players rising through the ranks of the DFB have either learned too much from their predecessors, or Löw hasn’t learned his lesson. Watching the World Cup in Russia last year, let alone being part of the actual team, should be enough of a wake-up call for all the German players and staff. However, as we saw in this game, they are still stuck in their habit of getting caught out on the counter-attack.
Despite replacing the back line with four new players and moving Joshua Kimmich to the “6,” the ghosts of the past look to be haunting the talents of the future. Maybe it will take a game against a country that has an attacking threat consisting of more than just Luka Jovic to truly wake the Germans up. One thing is for certain, though: This team can have no hope of moving towards the future if it doesn’t address the deadly pattern they keep falling into.
Attacking through Leroy Sané
Löw has come a long way. After not even selecting Leroy Sané for the 2018 World Cup, it looks like the coach is making him the focal point in his new attack. The 23-year-old definitely has explosiveness and the qualities necessary to turn a game on its head, but there’s a reason why Löw was hesitant.
The German style of play is garnering possession, working the ball side-to-side, and chipping away until cracks show and they can exploit and work through them. Sané is best served in fast-paced games either on the counter with field ahead of him or with his head down taking men on off the dribble. Both ways contradict the tradition of the program that’s been set in place. There’s no doubt that he’s a special player. There’s just the question: will Germany have to adapt and change its dearly held tactics? Or will Leroy Sané adapt to Löw’s style without sacrificing too much quality he would otherwise show?
Either way, let’s just hope he has the opportunity to even make a choice after that Milan Pavkov red-carded challenge that had no place in a friendly. He has a lot to offer his country, as shown in his second half-display. If unfortunate injuries (case in point, today) don’t keep him down, we’re in for a treat whenever he makes a cap.