The German National Team now has two games under their belt in 2019. After a catastrophic 2018, we knew that changes were needed going into the new year. After some changes were made to the roster (namely, Joachim Löw telling the three Bayern Munich players that they would not be called up again), Germany went on to draw one game and win another. Despite not losing, there were times where the young German side looked vulnerable. The question remains: what will die Mannschaft do going forward?
Leroy Sané, Leon Goretzka, and Serge Gnabry were all terrific for Germany in these first two games. Sané’s creativity sparked the offense and kept the Serbian and Dutch teams on their toes. He was awarded for all his hard work on Wednesday with a goal against the Netherlands on Sunday. Goretzka came off the bench in the second half on Wednesday and was able to score to secure a draw. He was also instrumental in distributing the ball in the final third. Then there is Gnabry. His ability to streak down the field with the ball on his feet and then cut in and score is amazing to watch. He is able to slice through defenses and score from mid-range makes him a valuable asset in this attack. These three should be the heart of the German attack going forward.
Neuer is still Neuer
There was a lot of talk regarding Manuel Neuer’s future with the national team. After seeing Neuer leave the game at halftime on Wednesday, many were hopeful that Marc-Andre ter Stegen would begin his career as full-time keeper for Germany. However, Neuer was called upon again for Sunday’s match and he proved that he still has a lot to give. Neuer made two huge saves to keep the score at 2-0 for Germany in the first half. He looked like the vintage Neuer that we knew and loved. As captain of the team, he still has a lot to give both on the field and off. Löw should stick with Neuer as long as he is still performing as he did in these first two games.
Lack of maturity shows
Although they seemed dangerous against Serbia, the young team was not able to finish anything until Reus and Goretzka came into the game. Their veteran leadership showed as they took charge of the game and got a goal back to finish with a draw. In the game against the Netherlands the young German team came out stronger and took an early lead into halftime. However, the Dutch made some tactical changes at halftime and came out and erased Germany’s lead, scoring two goals in the first twenty minutes. The young Germans were unable to cope and adjust quickly enough to avoid seeing their 2-0 lead slip away. Luckily for them, Ilkay Gündogan and Marco Reus came in as subs to help save the day. Gündogan came on shortly after the Netherlands’ equalizer and was able to help settle things in the midfield. Then Reus, who was reportedly injured, came on late in the game and assisted the winning goal, after seemingly nothing was working for the Germans in the second half.
As talented as the youngsters are, Löw needs to make sure that he has some veteran leadership (a la Thomas Müller) on the field at all times. Also, having your lone veteran player in goal usually doesn’t help solve this problem. Neuer is limited in how much he can lead his team during a game.
What comes next?
All but one of the remaining seven games this year for Germany will be qualifiers for Euro 2020. The exception is an October friendly against Argentina in Dortmund. Germany did well to start off qualifying strong with a victory away against the Netherlands, but they still have a lot of work ahead of them. The players and coaches need to find and develop their identity that will help set themselves apart from the rest of the competition next summer at Euro 2020.