Saturday night marked an historic occasion for the German National Team, and for all the wrong reasons. As Georginio Wijnaldum danced through a bewildered German defence, he fired home past Manuel Neuer to give The Netherlands a 3-0 win at an ecstatic Johan Cruijff Arena, and marked the first game in 11 years that Germany had lost a game by a margin of three goals.
This slump in form is reminiscent of Vicente Del Bosque’s downfall in the Spanish dugout, and Löw must be dismissed before the process becomes irreversible.
Is the coach out of touch?
Before delving too deep and trying to analyse the problem, ask yourself, is the coach out of touch with his group of players?
What stood out following his appointment in 2006 was his development of young talent, with the likes of Bastian Schweinsteiger, Philipp Lahm, Per Mertesacker and Lukas Podolski all flourishing under him early on. However, that seems to have dried up recently.
Goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, who has not been himself since the wretched run of injuries he went through since 2016, started every game at the World Cup, and has retained his place since, while Marc-André ter Stegen, who has consistently been one of the best shot stoppers in Europe with Barcelona for the last two seasons is continuously overlooked and resigned to the bench.
Manchester City’s mercurial winger Leroy Sané was snubbed from the final 23 man squad that was taken to the finals in Russia, while some of the younger generation that did go, Julian Brandt and Matthias Ginter to name two, barely featured.
The 2014 World Cup was the beginning of the end for Del Bosque, as his unwillingness to part with key players that were beyond their expiration date cost them, with Iker Casillas, Xavi and David Villa all over the age of 32 when the tournament was played.
If Löw is indeed still in charge for the European Championships in just under two years, big changes are needed if he is expecting to compete.
Where has the sudden dip in form come from?
If the coaches misuse of the squad is not to blame for the recent run of results, then what is?
2017 was an excellent year for Germany, as they comfortably won the Confederations Cup with what was effectively a second team, but as for this year, they have played 11 games, and have won just three of them. That is almost unheard of for a nation of this stature who, just four years ago, beat Argentina to become World Champions for a fourth time.
Two of those wins have come in friendlies, and both by 2-1 score lines, against Saudi Arabia and Peru, while the other came in the World Cup, when they beat Sweden 2-1 thanks to a 95th minute Toni Kroos strike. Where it not for that late free-kick, they would only have won twice all year.
Draws with Spain and France are allowable, as are narrow defeats to Brazil and the French again, but 2-0 and 3-0 defeats to South Korea and a rebuilding Dutch team respectively are indicators that the current managerial setup may have run its course.
A friendly match-up with Russia awaits next month, as does the return fixture of the aforementioned Dutch game in the UEFA Nations League, and Löw’s future could quite well depend on these games.
Big stars must be dropped
While sacking the manager would be a step in the right direction for the National team, it may not be enough. Mesut Özil recently retired from International football, and if this trend of poor results is to be overturned, many more may have to follow him.
World Cups are what best stand out on Thomas Müller’s resume, having scored 10 goals in both 2010 and 2014 combined, but he failed to register a single strike during his time in Russia over the summer, while both Neuer and Jérôme Boateng, who were without faults during their 2014 triumph, were well below par.
It is not as though there are no suitable replacements, though. Much like Del Bosque had David De Gea to see out Casillas and Gerard Piqué fill the void left by Carles Puyol, ter Stegen and Niklas Süle can replicate that for ‘Die Mannschaft’, but that process must begin now.
With the qualifiers for the 2020 European Championships beginning in march, something drastic is in need if Germany are to turn their fortunes around and get back to where they once were.