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Die Denkfabrik: Naively looking at the glass half full after Germany’s largest defeat since 1931

Although I am a long-lasting defender of Joachim Löw, it is near impossible to argue for him now.

Photo by Javier Montano/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

The normal format of Die Denkfabrik will be excluded from this article. It will just be my thoughts on Germany’s biggest defeat since 1931 and the worst game of football I’ve ever seen Die Mannschaft play.

I’ve always defended Joachim Löw in trying to rebuild his team. The man is arguably the most important German national team coach of all time after what he accomplished between 2004 to 2014. That being said, if one said that Löw should resign or be fired before March 2021, it would be extremely hard to argue against that popular statement. Anything, even changing a coach a few months before an international tournament, would be better than what we witnessed yesterday.

I personally hope that Löw stays, as I believe that he deserves to finish what he is trying to do, although, at the moment, his rebuild is not working. Judging by the 30-minute crisis meeting at the airport, Löw will stay.

So where is this German national team heading? While 99% of readers will yell “eliminated in the group stage!!” let’s look at the current dark situation with naively positive eyes. Because even though Germany just lost to Spain 6-0, no one can know with certainty what will happen next summer.

He’s done it before

The argument that Hansi Flick was the true “mastermind” behind the 2006-2014 era is one that is without clear evidence. It is a hunch from mostly Bayern Munich fans, who believe that the reason for the recent failure of the German national team is due to Flick leaving the assistant position in 2014. It overlooks Germany’s 2016 Euro performance and more importantly, the Confederations Cup victory in 2017. It also ignores the fact that Flick himself speaks very highly of Löw, as do almost all of Löw’s former players.

In October 2020, Flick mentioned that, “Jogi has done an outstanding job. Many people, who haven’t had a ball at their feet for 25 years, have expressed criticism. As a pundit, you sometimes say things that aren’t good for German football.”

Löw’s success in 2014 was six years ago and, admittedly, things have not been looking good since 2018. Yet, unlike Niko Kovac, Joachim Löw has managed and won the most prestigious awards. He’s a veteran and has so far seen it all in national team football.

Transformation of a team

It is hard to explain to younger fans how deep in the mud the German national team was in the early 2000s. After crashing out of the group stage without a single win in the Euro 2000 competition, Germany then lost to England, their national rival, at home by a score of 5-1. After only reaching the 2002 World Cup final due to Oliver Kahn’s masterclass, the team that was nicknamed “the worst World Cup finalists” crashed out of the Euro group stages in 2004, again without a single win.

The German team had no creativity and resembled more a classic English Championship side, with long balls towards two tall strikers and a deep defensive backline. In 2006, all of that changed. It was well known within Germany — and later the world — that Klinsmann was the charismatic motivator while Jogi Löw was the tactical mastermind. Germany, hosting their first World Cup as a unified nation, played exciting football that stimulated the home crowd.

Eight years later, Germany had finally won their first international cup since 1996 and their 4th World Cup trophy. History never exactly repeats itself, but Löw has transformed a stagnant football nation into an exciting force within the international stage. Can he transform this stagnant football team?

Is a UEFA Nations League loss the end of the world?

A 6-0 loss should never be excused. Although I think every single player, apart from poor Manuel Neuer, did the Germany national badge dirty with their performance, the man ultimately responsible is Löw. The team looked incredibly disinterested and unmotivated while the Spanish side showed from the first minute that they wanted to win. It is Löw’s fault for not motivating his players and it will be his duty to try and improve before the European Championship in 2021.

However, unlike the loss to England at home in 2001, this game was in the newly created UEFA Nations League, a competition that was going to eliminate international friendlies. If Germany was ever going to lose a game with 6-0, it would preferably be in this competition.

Also, due to the current pandemic, I think it is fair to say that this international break may be one of the most hated and controversial of all time. Playing non-stop since September, it would be human to think why many players in the German national team yesterday purposefully played at second gear, considering all of them have to play with their clubs once again on Saturday. It doesn’t excuse the performance and it doesn’t even say much considering the Spanish side were in the same position, but it could offer an explanation of why the whole team looked so pathetically uninterested.

I hope that this embarrassment will serve as a reminder to both coaches and players that they are currently not in a good shape. I hope they realize that although it didn’t matter yesterday, a display like that won’t be enough to get any points in next year’s group stages.

Lastly, I realize and understand the arguments for why Löw should resign or get fired. I’ll admit that yesterday was a slap in the face for someone who strongly believes in Löw’s ability to rebuild and transform a football team. That being said, I still back him to remain the coach of Germany. As mentioned previously, it can’t get any worse than yesterday.

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