Germany’s latest woes in the UEFA Nations League should spell the end for Joachim Low

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Germany, the great international side that are usually compared to the very greatest footballing nations in the history of football have been relegated in the UEFA Nations League.

What this means is that the team cannot win the next edition of the new international cup set up by UEFA. This is all by and large and the competition is still under scrutiny as to whether nations are really taking this seriously. After all it isn’t the World Cup or European Championships and feels like glorified friendlies. Still whichever way you look at it relegation means you are not getting results and this has been a quite woeful year for the Germans so accustomed to winning.

But when will the finger point to coach Joachim Low. Low has been in charge of the national side for an incredible 12 years- surely his tenure is up now? In that time he has won the ultimate prize- the World Cup in 2014 as Germany became the first ever European side to win it in South America when that edition was held in Brazil.

Many expected Low’s time was up this summer when Germany exited the World Cup in Russia at the group stages. It was the first time in 80 years that Germany had done so and pardon the pun was a new low for the national side. His sacking seemed inevitable and yet the German FA gave Low the choice- he remained in the hot seat.

Low has done fantastically well for the national side, reaching the European Championship final in 2008 and making the latter stages of major competitions but surely now is the time to walk.  Since the World Cup things have hardly improved for Low with just 2 wins from 5 games and now failure in the Nations League.

What Germany need now is another strong character in order to qualify for Euro 2020 which shouldn’t be too much of a problem. Low has actually done very little wrong in his time with the national side and him stepping down should just be an occurrence of time, and he has certainly had his. It would be a major surprise if the FA do not take action and let him go if he doesn’t want to.

If anything Low who is almost 60 needs to give others a chance and there are a lot of ex German players now that are reaching that age where they would like to give the national team a decent shot. Change is needed because if not the great German side may just stagnate, something that we couldn’t see coming in a generation. Low’s time is up.


Germany Eliminated From the World Cup



Just about the biggest shock imaginable at this summer’s World Cup has now taken place. With almost every major international tournament there are a few surprises in store, particularly during the earlier stages when some of the less fancied teams take to the field with a point to prove. That proved to be the case in Group F when Germany went up against South Korea on Wednesday afternoon, needing a win to smooth a path through to the last 16. What ensued was a thoroughly sub-par performance from the reigning world champions, and two injury time goals in South Korea’s favour ensured Germany were out of the competition at the first hurdle for the first time since 1938. South Korea went ballistic, but the Germans were atrocious.

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Euro Fantasy League Podcast – #19 – World Cup 2018: Groups D-F Preview


The next of our World Cup preview episodes sees Jamie and Dave discuss Groups D-F, with particular topics of note including the coaching position at Nigeria (8:28), the Serbian national team (17:48) and the interesting man that is Joachim Low (20:44).

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World Cup 2018: Germany Looking For Successful Defence of Crown


With the World Cup now fast approaching, let’s take a look at some of the nations who will be hoping to have a successful time of things in Russia this summer. Where better to start, surely, than the reigning champions Germany?

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Germany aim to build upon excellent start to qualification campaign

Euro 2016

Current World Champions Germany started their 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign with a commanding 3-0 away victory over Norway in Oslo.

Whilst Thomas Mueller scored twice, the 27-year-old’s Bayern Munich team mate Joshua Kimmich showed great composure to score his first international goal, as Germany delivered an accomplished performance.

In doing so Joachim Low’s side issued a strong statement of intent that they are fully equipped and focused upon reaching the 2018 finals in Russia in as efficient and serene a manner as possible.

Dominant display against Norway

Not only did Germany monopolise possession – 73.7% – against the Norwegians, whilst playing with dynamism and enterprise, but they also created a wealth of excellent goal scoring opportunities, of which Kimmich and Muller were the beneficiaries.

Furthermore a series of fine saves from Norway’s goalkeeper Rune Jarstein, who plays his club football for Hertha Berlin, prevented Germany from winning by a wider margin.

On numerous occasions the 32-year-old former Viking Stavanger player repelled fine efforts from German players, who strolled throw the game with the utmost confidence and efficiency.

Czech’s await Low’s Germany

Therefore Germany laid a solid platform upon which they can build a successful qualifying campaign, with it being their aim to continue constructing that against the Czech Republic, for whom the influential duo of Petr Cech and Tomas Rosicky are no longer available following their international retirements.

In drawing their maiden qualification game 0-0 with Northern Ireland, as Cech’s predecessor Tomas Vaclik remained largely untested, Karel Jarolim’s side were neither able to play with any cohesion nor fluency.  As such they must aspire to produce a vastly improved performance in order to compete against a wonderfully balanced and talented German side.

The last time that the two nations faced one another was during qualification for Euro 2008 as the Czech Republic won 3-0 in Munich courtesy of goals from Libor Sionko, Marek Matejovsky and Jaroslav Plasil.  Of the players featuring in that game, none are still involved in either the current German or Czech international set-ups.

In contrast to the relative inexperience of Jarolim’s pool of players at international level, whereby only captain Tomas Sivok has made more than 50 appearances, with the Bursaspor defender having been capped 58 times for the Czech Republic, eight members of Low’s 23-man squad have surpassed the 50-cap mark.

Fine mix of experience and youth among German squad

Specifically Manuel Neuer, Mats Hummels, Jerome Boateng, Sami Khedira, Toni Kroos, Mesut Ozil, Thomas Mueller and Mario Gotze have each represented Germany on more than 50 occasions.  Given that whilst Germany’s squad is blessed with a wealth of experience, it also has a strong youthful element with home-based players such as Julian Brandt, Julian Draxler, Joshua Kimmich, Max Meyer, Julian Weigl all having proven themselves as capable of performing well on the international stage.

Great potential exists for Low to introduce more young players into his squad during this qualification campaign.  That is particularly the case given the emergence of a fine crop of talented young German defenders, which include Emre Can, Matthias Ginter, Antonio Rudiger, Niklas Sule and Jonathan Tah, whilst Manchester City’s 20-year-old forward Leroy Sane constitutes another excellent attacking option for Low.

Low aspires to lead Germany to another major international tournament

The 56-year-old is now amidst his sixth major international tournament qualification campaign as Germany manager.

In the role Low has an impressive record of having won 77.38% of the competitive games for which he has taken charge of Germany.

As such Low will aim to strengthen that record by guiding Die Mannschaft to victory over the Czech Republic, which would put Germany in complete ascendancy in their efforts to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, despite only having played two games.

Although by no means decisive in terms of determining the overall outcome of qualification Group C – which also contains Azerbaijan, Northern Ireland, Norway and San Marino – Germany’s game against the Czech Republic assumes great importance for both teams.

Whilst the Czech’s will seek to inject some much needed momentum into their campaign following their disappointing draw with Northern Ireland, Germany’s ambition is to secure a second successive victory and build upon the fine start they made by dismantling Norway.

German efficiency characterises Low’s managerial reign  

Ever since Low’s appointment in 2006, Germany have professed in running extremely successful qualification campaign, with that being a feat which they are more than capable of achieving again, so as to reach the 2018 World Cups finals in Russia and defend their World title.

Just 72 hours after hosting the Czech Republic in Hamburg, Germany will then travel to Hannover to play Northern Ireland, who Joachim Low’s side beat 1-0 during the group stages of Euro 2016 courtesy of a Mario Gomez goal.

Therefore although a demanding schedule awaits Germany, it is one they are extremely well equipped to manage, particularly under the expert guidance and tutelage of Low, who appears set to lead his country to another major international tournament.

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Germany’s Thomas Müller rediscovers international goalscoring form

Euro 2016Form is temporary, class is permanent. 

As is frequently the case in football, highly gifted players temporarily lose form.

Whether it is a goalkeeper losing confidence in his handling, a defender misjudging tackles, a midfielder becoming complacent in possession or a striker’s goal – scoring touch deserting him, world class players can often endure frustrating spells whereby they struggle to make as positive an impact upon their team’s performance as they are capable of.

Inspirational in Germany’s comfortable victory

That is an issue which Thomas Müller had recently been experiencing for Germany, with the Bayern Munich forward undergoing a seven-game goal drought at international level, as he failed to score during his country’s Euro 2016 campaign.

Nevertheless the 26-year-old showed his unquestionable class to emphatically end that goal drought by scoring twice for Germany, to help Joachim Low’s side begin their 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign with a 3-0 win away to Norway.

After Müller ruthlessly capitalised on hesitant Norwegian defending to give Germany the lead with 15 minutes gone in the game, on the stroke of half time, he then provided an assist for Joshua Kimmich to score his maiden international goal, by playing a wonderful through ball to his Bayern Munich teammate, which the 21-year-old despatched brilliantly beyond Rune Almenning Jarstein.

The Hertha Berlin goalkeeper was beaten again on the hour mark, as Müller  scored his 34th international goal by rising to powerfully head home Sami Khedira’s fine cross.  That capped a thoroughly efficient German display, which was characterised by control and superb teamwork, as Müller played an influential role in his team dominating the game.

Continuing to build an excellent international career

As well as scoring a brace and providing a goal-scoring assist, Müller produced an immaculate all round performance, as he has so often done for his country since making his international debut during Germany’s  1-0 friendly win over Argentina in March 2010.

Subsequently in the process of amassing 79 appearances and scoring 34 goals for Germany, Müller has become one of his country’s most important players, whilst he holds a similarly revered status at club level with Bayern Munich.

Courtesy of his two goals against Norway, Müller has become Germany’s 10th top goal – scorer of all time.  Furthermore following Lukas Podolski’s retirement from international football, Müller is now his country’s leading active goalscorer.

In pursuit of Klose’s goal – scoring record

Given that Müller is just 26-years-old, possesses wonderful fitness levels and boasts an impressive international goal per game ration of 0.43, it is altogether conceivable that he could yet break Miroslav Klose’s record of 71 international goals.

Ultimately the prospect of endeavouring to achieve that represents a significant challenge to Müller but it is one that he undoubtedly possesses the potential to embrace, as proven by his wonderful return to goal – scoring form against Norway.

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Germans set to commence World Cup defense against Norway


Current world champions Germany are set to open the defense of their title away to Norway, as Joachim Low’s side begin their quest to become the first team to win successive World Cups since Brazil achieved the feat by triumphing in the 1958 & 1962 editions of the tournament.

Fine blend of youth and experience to German squad

The 23-man German squad which Low has selected to face Norway contains 10 players who were members of the country’s 2014 World Cup triumph.  Those are Manuel Neuer, Shkodran Mustafi, Benedikt Howedes, Mats Hummels, Sami Khedira, Toni Kroos, Mesut Ozil, Thomas Muller and Mario Gotze.

By combining some of the players from Germany’s successful campaign in Brazil, with a group of technically gifted youngsters, which include Julien Brandt, Emre Can, Joshua Kimmich, Kevin Volland and Julian Weigl, Low aims to mastermind a successful start to his team’s 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign.

Qualification campaign to test Germany’s strength

That is to consist of ten games as in addition to Norway, Germany will play double-headers against Azerbaijan, the Czech Republic, Northern Ireland and San Marino, with those due to take place between now and 8 October 2017.

On that day, Germany will conclude their qualifying campaign with a home fixture against Azerbaijan.

Prior to then Low will endeavor to ensure his team amasses a sufficient number of points to automatically qualify for the finals in Russia, although achieving that constitutes a stern challenge, given the quality of Germany’s qualification opponents, one of whom are Norway.

Norway aim to end prolonged wait to participate in a major finals

Despite being relatively inexperienced in terms of their collective number of international caps, Per Mathias Hogmo’s Norwegian squad is extremely talented and contains many players who featured prominently for Norway as they narrowly missed out on qualifying for Euro 2016 by losing 3-1 on aggregate to Hungary in the play-offs.

As such determined to avenge that disappointment, Hogmo’s team embark upon their 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign hopeful of progressing to a major finals for the first time since Euro 2000 when they were eliminated at the group stages.

The last time Norway qualified for a World Cup finals was 1998 when, under the guidance of Egil Olsen, they reached the second round before losing 1-0 to Italy.  In order to earn the right to play that game, Norway went through the group stage undefeated as they drew with both Morocco and Scotland, before beating Brazil 2-1.

Match of great importance to both sides

Subsequently not for some time have Norway played a game of that magnitude, with their match against Germany in Oslo being as high profile as any they have played since last participating in the World Cup finals in 1998.

Similarly the match assumes great importance to Low’s German side, as they seek to commence their World Cup defense with not only a favorable result but also performance.

Can Germany finally get the better of Italy?


While his players were enjoying a rare day off on Tuesday, Joachim Low fronted the Press. Top of the agenda was Germany’s ‘Italian curse’. The boss had seen Italy end Spain’s European reign the previous evening, setting up a mouth-watering Quarter-final. It pits the favourites against a team they have never defeated in a major tournament.

Germany have failed to get the better of the Azzurri in eight attempts at a major tournament. Low oversaw the most recent defeat, at the Semi-final stage four years ago. But he wasn’t having any of it. “We have never beaten them in a tournament but we have no Italy trauma. I do not rate the past too much.”

Speaking on German television a day earlier, the boss said this would be a match between two teams who have so far played the best football. Germany have improved as the tournament has progressed. Italy did well to beat Belgium and Spain when they went in as the outsiders.

The German attacking machine, which started to crank against Slovakia, will come up against the Italian wall. But Italy won’t be in Bordeaux just to defend. A vibrant performance against Spain was rewarded with victory. In doing so, they ended a Spanish hoodoo which stretched back to Euro 2008.

They will aim for more of the same, even if Germany won’t have the same ponderous nature about them as Spain. If there’s any attacking unit which will seriously trouble Italy’s fabled BBC it’s this one. Don’t forget, Germany did put four past the Azzurri in a comprehensive friendly victory in March. They are also yet to concede a goal – but so too is Gigi Buffon. At the other end Italy will need to be clinical.

While the World Champions will attempt to overcome their complex, Antonio Conte has issues of his own. Daniele De Rossi went off injured against Spain and replacement Thiago Motta picked up his second booking of the tournament. He will miss the game and the Roma player is in a race against time to be fit. That gives Conte a headache. He could introduce Stefano Sturaro or re-shuffle his pack. Die Mannschaft have no such concerns, even if Low admits he isn’t yet sure how his team will line up.

It’s a Quarter-final worthy of a Final. After finally getting one over the Spanish, can Italy inflict more pain on Germany? Or will Low and his team finally taste victory over the Azzurri in a tournament setting? An intriguing match awaits.