Germany’s 1-1 draw against Denmark left fans feeling a bit like the old Talking Heads lyrics, “Same as it ever was.”
Despite bringing back Thomas Müller and Mats Hummels and an overall solid showing from its backline (more on that in a bit), Germany still found a way to cough up a 1-0 lead and was forced to settle for an uninspiring deadlock ahead of the European Championships.
So...what went wrong? Let’s take a look:
- Joachim Löw’s 3-4-3 (really a 3-4-1-2) formation left the offense struggling to muster any creativity and did not generate many opportunities for the attackers to, well, actually attack.
- In addition to the lack of creativity on the ball, there was too often a lack of movement in the final third. When there were good runs off of the ball, Germany had trouble connecting. This formation feels as if it is choking the life out of the offense.
- The wingback duo of Lukas Klostermann and Robin Gosens was not bad, but often seemed like surplus when the team was controlling play on offense. Their presence in the play created too much crowding. Defensively, the twosome often was caught too far upfield at times. What is unclear, however, is if this is what Löw wanted or if his charges misread their instructions.
- The back-three was formidable for the majority of the contest, but was victimized by a perfect pass from Christian Eriksen, who hit Yussuf Poulsen for the game-tying goal. It was a nearly unstoppable connection for Germany’s backline. Yet, Löw — showing a lack of tact — still pointed the finger at Niklas Süle, while also acknowledging that Mats Hummels was battling patella soreness — which begs the question: Why was he still playing in a meaningless friendly against Denmark?
- As much as Timo Werner and Kai Havertz have become international punching bags for criticism and trolling, Germany might need them. The speed and ability to operate centrally that both players possess, could be beneficial if Löw sticks to some iteration of this back-three based formation. Serge Gnabry and Leroy Sane did not look comfortable at the top of the formation. Aside of Gnabry’s first half moment of brilliance in hitting the crossbar, the Bayern Munich duo was largely ineffective and often struggled to find space effectively.
- Germany’s best player — and lone goal scorer — against Denmark was Florian Neuhaus. The same player who is the fifth-choice midfielder on the depth chart. There is virtually no way that Löw is going to be able to find a way to maximize his squad’s strength in the midfield.
- At this point, it is almost negligent that Löw refuses to at least try and work with a 4-2-3-1 — and, yes, to get his best XI player on the pitch in that formation, Joshua Kimmich might have to play right-back. If Germany wats to have a serious chance to win, however, everyone — including Kimmich — might have to do what is best for the team.
What does all this mean? Basically, Hansi Flick and his fresh ideas on how to best utilize the players on this roster cannot arrive in camp soon enough.