A poor attacking setup
Coach Joachim Löw had Germany fans all around the world wondering what was going on when the lineups were released. Neither Bayern Munich’s Serge Gnabry (who has a huge track record of performing well in London) nor Jamal Musiala (who was brilliant against Hungary) were in the starting lineup. Instead, the front three featured Timo Werner, who has been horrendous in front of goal for some time now and the two regulars up front, Kai Havertz and Thomas Müller.
In a rare game where Müller disappointed, Werner was very poor, while Havertz put in some great through balls and had a wonderful effort tipped over by Pickford but was otherwise silent and danced around the ball too many times to everyone’s frustration. One can’t help but think whether the outcome might’ve been different had Gnabry and/or Musiala started. Perhaps a 4-2-3-1 would’ve worked in Germany’s favour. We will never know.
Good start from the midfield... which ran out of gas
Germany started the game with a midfield duo of Toni Kroos and Leon Goretzka, and they looked great throughout the first half. Kroos was very good with his passing and skillfully got the better of the English pressing game, while Goretzka was on point with his tackling, his runs in from the midfield and his aerial duels. They seemed to be giving Kalvin Phillips and Declan Rice a very hard time in the first half.
As the game progressed, however, England’s midfielders started to venture further up the pitch, causing Germany to sometimes adopt a defensive five-man block that tried its best to keep the England attackers at bay. There’s only a certain period of time a man can run and cover both defense and attack for, and Goretzka’s influence inevitably diminished. This tipped the scales in England’s favour, and Jack Grealish being brought in was just too much to handle.
Mats Hummels was superb (for the most part)
Make no mistake, Mats Hummels had a brilliant game. The score-line might make you think otherwise, but Hummels bailed Germany out on numerous occasions with his quick thinking, superb reactions and timely tackles and interventions. Granted, he was caught off-position during one of the goals, but the entire defense was caught snoozing, and it would be unfair to pin the blame solely on him. Out of all the Germany players who started, he is one who can return with his head held high.
Müller misses a rare sitter
Thomas Müller is Germany’s most decorated and possibly influential attacking midfielder of all time. The man has always turned up for the team when it has mattered. However today, it pains me to say that he let many fans down with a horrible miss. Havertz fed him a peach that he controlled well and charged forward with, but his shot was wide when he could’ve slotted it past Pickford with better placement and composure. That being said, it would be ridiculous to point the fingers collectively at him, because that just summed up a night when everything was going wrong for the Germans because of Löw’s tactical setup.
I’m not trying to protect Müller here. I just feel it would be cruel and extremely unfair to vent out everyone’s collective frustration on a player who has served his country so diligently for around 12 years. Yes, a goal would’ve changed the game entirely, but why did the team leave it till the end? Why weren’t earlier chances buried? These problems have deep roots, and there are numerous flaws in the systems that Löw has employed over the past 3 years. It will definitely feel like a breath of fresh air once Flick takes over.
Let’s get this straight... Germany were trailing, and Löw didn’t bring in Jamal Musiala? No Kevin Volland? In comes Emre Can instead, who himself seemed to have no clue of what he was meant to do to overturn the deficit. Musiala was brought in at 90+1, at which point some of the Germany fans had started to leave the stadium. That was absolute tomfoolery by Löw, and of course, the lead only got bigger for England.
Werner was really bad in the first half, and everyone expected him to be subbed out before the start of the second half. But what happened? Germany continued with the ‘elite’ Chelsea striker. The manager has been making whacky decisions throughout the tournament that have cost Germany, but this seemed to be the culmination of all that for a grand finale of his biggest circus act yet.
Danke, Jogi Löw. Your time is up.
Germany’s manager has had a very tumultuous career. From winning the World Cup in 2014 (ah, the good old days) to exiting the group stages of the 2018 World Cup in Russia in embarrassing fashion (don’t get me wrong, South Korea and Mexico are no pushovers, but Germany certainly had way more quality on paper and should’ve won those) to bowing out of the Ro16 of the Euros against an England side far from its best. Germany are no longer feared throughout Europe... they are no longer a force to be reckoned with.
The Euros always felt like a write-off for Löw and Germany, with the manager publicly declaring his exit after the Euros months before the tournament. Should the DFB have given him that kind of opportunity? No consequences, just a free swing of the bat. And well, he experimented wildly, sent in lineups that would otherwise be difficult to witness in games of such magnitude and importance, and unsurprisingly, Germany are out, thanks in huge part to his brilliant tactics.
Germany fans can close their eyes, heave a huge sigh of relief and move ahead though. The nightmare has come to a close. A very torrid chapter in the German National team’s history is over. Hopefully, good things are on the horizon with Hansi Flick taking over soon.
The wait for Bundesliga football is going to be agonizing.