Thursday 23 May 2019

Loew loses tactical game of Russian Roulette

Germany manager Joachim Loew. Photo: AP
Germany manager Joachim Loew. Photo: AP

Jamie Carragher

Opportunities for English football to laugh at German football's expense are rare. Such triumphalism should be accompanied with a warning. Remember what happened the last time a German team were eliminated in the group stages of a major tournament?

It was Euro 2000. A restructure by the German Football Federation brought the World Cup 14 years later, as well as a few final and semi-final appearances in between.

What has been clear over the course of three poor performances is that another rebuild of the German team is needed.

Tactically, I have never seen a side with so many experienced and proven players look so exposed, consistently making the same costly mistakes.

There are three major differences between the side who won in Brazil in 2014 and this one: Philipp Lahm, Miroslav Klose and Bastian Schweinsteiger.

Four years ago, Germany were able to dominate with their quality because they possessed an energy woefully lacking now. Klose guaranteed dominance in possession was turned into goals, Schweinsteiger - at his peak - could sit in front of the defence and shut off counter-attacks. Captain Lahm's leadership, organisation and pace from full-back ensured few teams were able to punish Germany on the break.

The Germans played the same system in Russia, but lack of personnel to perform the same duties as those who retired was catastrophic. It does not matter how good your centre-backs, if you lack speed and are regularly left man-for-man with attackers, you will get caught out.

Mats Hummels has a great reputation and is a World Cup winner, but I have always felt he looked better with the ball than without it. Jerome Boateng is a defender I have always felt has a mistake in him. Individually, they were poor, and as a partnership against Mexico were a disaster.

The warnings were there in that first game when the duo had no protection, but continued with a new centre-half partnership against Sweden until the full emergency was realised with yet another defensive pairing against South Korea.

The approach was football suicide. Germany went into each game believing they could impose themselves as superior players, but they were so open their obvious quality never showed.

Longer-term, English football should be wary of being too cocky where Germany is concerned.

With players of the class of Leroy Sane, Niklas Sule, Julian Brandt and Joshua Kimmich, I see the events in Russia as a bizarre aberration rather than a sign Bundesliga talent is not what it was four years ago.

© Daily Telegraph, London

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