Pluck of the Irish Raises More Questions for Germany

o'shea drawing

“Germany had no clue how to find a loose brick in the Irish wall and this time there was no David Hasselhoff at hand to just sing it down.” What ever happened to the champions of 2014? After the triumph of Rio, Germany now has a hangover in the qualification round. The World Cup memories fade as scepticism grows, writes 11freunde’s Ron Ulrich.

“To sit on the clock. To take time off the clock. To dig the ball near the corner flag.” There are several sayings in German football terminology for securing a slim lead in injury time. The German players might know them all well but it could not prevent them from giving away a 1-0 against Ireland in the very last minute of the game. O’Shea’s goal was the punishment for their sloppy acting, as goalscorer Toni Kroos also put it: “We played so many long balls in the end of the game as we have not played for 40 games or so.” Team manager Joachim Löw admitted straight after the match that he had no explanation for the loss of control.

So after the worst start of a German team in a qualification round, the 85 minutes of controlling possession and the, at least, committed performance, vanished in the public eye. Up came the questions whether this team lacks experience, form and mentality just three months after lifting the World Cup trophy. While players like Mario Götze still objected, saying “The team played well after all, sorry for saying that again”, critics argue that lead figures like Bastian Schweinsteiger and Philipp Lahm are deeply missed in the decisive moments. The broadcasting TV station even showed a graphic before the game of nine absent players from the World Cup squad as an alarm signal.

But to be honest, three of them had already declared their resignation and players like Schweinsteiger have now been out for a longer period due to injuries. The German attack on Tuesday was still equipped with young and experienced players such as Thomas Müller, Mario Götze and Julian Draxler. The litany of so many missing players might be comparable to a lady standing in front of a walk-in wardrobe complaining that she absolutely has nothing to wear.

“Germany had no clue how to find a loose brick in the Irish wall and this time there was no David Hasselhoff at hand to just sing it down.”

Sure, the forwards were not attuned well. Germany deserved a penalty after Mario Götze was wrestled down and Erik Durm hit the crossbar – but it was the third time after the loss to Poland, and even the win against Scotland, that Germany struggled with a deep-standing, disciplined and gladiatorial team.

Some players are not back at their usual fitness level; the team also lacks mental freshness, Joachim Löw said afterwards. Whereas Ireland and Poland gave everything they had to give, German players might have withheld the last bits of their potential, the ultimate determination. As German newspaper ‘Die Zeit’ wrote: “The title in Brazil was not only attributed to sporting brilliance or a national idea of playing (like Spain) that works regardless of players…The World Cup title in Rio was a triumph of the collective, of the atmosphere. It could not be transfused into daily routine.” In fact, in the round of the last 16 at the World Cup against Algeria the team of Joachim Löw also had problems with a defensive opponent.

There is still no doubt that this team might improve and reap the harvest for their endeavours sooner or later, but Germans’ compulsory tendency to scepticism is ubiquitous. So on Tuesday, one searched through the statistics and came up with a shocking and warning fact:

The last World Cup champion which did not qualify for the following European Championship was Brazil in 2004.

Ron Ulrich writes for cult German football magazine 11freunde. Follow Ron on Twitter: @RonUlrich11 


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