Despite having a great deal of possession and a handful of credible chances, Germany fell 1-0 to France in their Euro 2020 opener by way of an own goal from Mats Hummels, who deflected from Bayern Munich’s Lucas Hernandez cross into the back of Manuel Neuer’s goal. Joachim Low’s men were perhaps deserving of at least a point on the overall balance, but they failed to make anything count in the final third in an attacking line spearheaded by Serge Gnabry, Kai Havertz, and Thomas Muller.
After the match, Low reacted to what had unfolded at the Allianz Arena and didn’t feel that his side played poorly by any stretch of the imagination and perhaps deserved a bit more from proceedings (Tz). From the get go —and the starting eleven Low fielded — it was clear that the intent was to try and stifle France’s attacking threats of Kylian Mbappe, Antoine Griezmann and Karim Benzema. Low also highlighted the fact that Germany really tried to use their width to their advantage based on France’s more narrow setup with N’Golo Kante, Paul Pogba, and Adrien Rabiot across the midfield. “We tried to play on the outside. We knew that they were closely spaced in the middle and strong in tackles. We had to operate with flanks, Gosens and Kimmich did an incredible amount on the offensive. And yes, Serge Gnabry’s chance too,” Low explained.
Low always knew how dangerous France was going to be on the counter-attacks, especially with the large spells of possession Germany had; “We knew that France countered extremely well. We couldn’t always stop everything. They are incredibly fast ahead. We knew when we had to risk a lot that France would be good at counter-attacking.” Defensively, Kimmich was walking a tight rope from early on having been booked for a challenge on Bayern teammate Lucas Hernandez, so France made a conscious effort to attack that left channel as much as they could, making their counters even more threatening.
As far as Hummels’ own goal, Low chalked it down to bad luck. The Borussia Dortmund center-back had got himself in the right position to clear the danger from a Hernandez cross as Mbappe was lurking behind him, but his touch was unfortunate and was the difference maker in the end. “You can’t blame him, that’s bad luck. The ball comes in sharply. We could have cleared the throw-in beforehand, it was difficult for Mats to clear the ball. It was a brutally intense game, we weighed everything in and fought until the end. I can’t blame the team. An own goal decided the game. We lacked the impact in the last third,” Low said.
From here on, the mission is clear. Germany will need to get at least 3-4 points from their remaining group stage matches against Portugal and Hungary if they want to have a strong chance of progressing to the knockout stages. Low said it will be back to the drawing board straight from tomorrow’s training session to prepare for the next tests; “Tomorrow we have to work on a few things. Then we look ahead. Now we’ve lost, but anything is still possible, we still have two games and we can straighten everything out.”