Berlin: Two months after Germany’s early group exit from the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, team head coach Joachim Loew is facing the toughest test of his coaching career. His side lines up against world champions France in the newly-formed Nations League in Munich this Thursday evening.
While the country’s fans seem to have lost confidence in their national team, the 57-year-old said he is optimistic about rebooting the side after its disastrous World Cup campaign. In a survey, nearly 80 per cent of the supporters said they felt Loew would be unable to put the team back on the road to success, reports Xinhua news agency.
Many expected a “revolution” but were disappointed as Loew nominated 16 members of the World Cup squad for the first game. The weekly news magazine Focus reported that an official mentioned that Loew could be sacked by November if he fails to improve his team.
Meanwhile, the number of critics in Germany is growing as Loew seems to have lost most of the confidence people once had in him. Former German international Lothar Matthaeus demanded radical changes. “I want to see a change in attitude on the pitch, I want to see passion and pride,” Matthaeus said.
Another former midfielder for Germany and Liverpool, Dietmar Hamann expects Loew to be sacked if he can’t deliver convincing answers in the next two games against France and Peru.
Loew recently admitted that he hadn’t been able to motivate the team in Russia and spoke about his biggest mistake as he assumed they would be successful with possession-based football. “That was close to being arrogant,” he said.
Loew also said he was responsible for his team’s lack of inspiration. After an intense analysis, Loew seems confident his side can satisfy the expectations of the German football public. The coach promised that he and his team will be full of determination to make up for the poor performance in Russia.
“Facing France, the world champions, is the right challenge to prove our qualities,” Loew said. The German coach announced that he would be taking the Nations League very seriously. Most of his players seem to be ready to repair the damage that has been done to the team’s image.
“We have to make up for our display in Russia,” goalkeeper Manuel Neuer said. Dortmund striker Marco Reus emphasized: “It is time to show we are still very much alive and kicking.”
Of the established players, only Juventus veteran midfielder Sami Khedira has been left out. Leroy Sane, Jonathan Tah and Nils Petersen were omitted from the final German squad shortly before the 2018 World Cup, but find themselves in the coach’s good books again.
Loew has nominated three newcomers; Kai Harvertz, defender Thilo Kehrer and TSG Hoffenheim’s left-back Nico Schulz for the duel against France.
Paris St Germain’s Julian Draxler spoke about the team’s responsibility to readjust, adding that Germany do not need to hide from nations like France. “We are still Germany,” Draxler emphasized.