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Germany – Greece: DFB-Elf reveals a few too many problems

Germany – Greece: DFB-Elf reveals a few too many problems

Before the opening match of the European Championship, it is not easy to share the confidence of national coach Julian Nagelsmann. The German national team is still carrying too many problems with it.

By Frank Hellmann, Mönchengladbach

Julian Nagelsmann had been thinking about the change of plan for a while. But the national coach obviously felt that his national players needed to switch off. That they should have at least two days off at the weekend to relax, have fun with their families, meet up with friends or just relax. So instead of Sunday, the squad will meet again in Herzogenaurach on Monday, where the only public training session will be held in the afternoon in the secluded oasis of well-being provided by the (current) supplier Adidas. After that, the curtains will be closed. And the focus will be on Scotland. Opponents in the eagerly awaited opening match of the European Championship on June 14 in Munich.

After the dress rehearsal against Greece (2:1), which was at best a halfway successful, the German team has not really made any progress. The March international matches against France (2:0) and the Netherlands (2:1) gave the impression of a level of performance that this team, which has not been among the top ten nations in the FIFA world rankings for years, does not possess. In this respect, the European Championship tests against Ukraine (0:0) and Greece were not really a dampener of the mood, but rather realistic descriptions of what the DFB selection can do – and what it cannot do.

The fans were there – despite the DFB team’s mediocre performance

However, the enthusiasm for the home tournament can finally be felt among many people – this was also noticeable in Mönchengladbach. In the meantime, the 45,488 spectators on the Lower Rhine just didn’t know how to react to the sluggish performance of their favorites in the first half. The occasional whistles for the slow ball movement were countered by some of the audience with defiant shouts of “Germany, Germany”.

Toni Kroos found that the team played “faultily” and “unevenly” – even with “a touch too much calm”. This also applied to the director in particular. It seems clear that Kroos and Co. urgently need to shift up a gear so that there is no rude awakening in the preliminary round. Nagelsmann added as a precaution that he would also “sign a 2-1 result three times”.

Goalkeeper discussion unavoidable

The biggest doubts hang over the Germans’ domain: Manuel Neuer’s slip-up before Giorgos Masouras’ 0:1 goal almost inevitably sparked a goalkeeper debate. The 38-year-old, who did not have a good World Cup in Qatar and then suffered a broken leg, has had too many mishaps in quick succession that inevitably fuel doubts. He was responsible for Real Madrid’s semi-final exit in the Champions League; he lost second place in the Bundesliga final against TSG Hoffenheim; he chipped a ball to the opponent in his comeback for the national team against the Ukraine. And now even simple craftsmanship went wrong with a harmless shot outside the penalty area.

It is also irritating how little self-criticism the goalkeeper admits to. And it is certainly noticeable that national coach Julian Nagelsmann does not want to “evaluate, analyze or tinker with” his number one’s obvious mistakes. In his loyalty to Neuer, Nagelsmann gets himself into trouble when he argues as crudely as he did on Friday night. Basically, “every German should have an interest in every player playing in a solid and stable manner.” A strange conclusion to override the principle of performance.

At least the national coach had a lucky hand with Neuer’s teammates: the 36-year-old had advised substitute Pascal Groß on the sidelines to wait for second balls just like before the direct shot to make it 2-1 (89th minute). It was also true that the victory was good for the overall mood. Yes, late goals are really cool for a team’s psyche. The last-minute specialists from Bayer Leverkusen send their regards. But this comparison is also flawed: the Werkself rushed from success to success because the automatisms took hold; because a coach (Xabi Alonso) had transferred his signature to his team in everyday work.

Nagelsmann did not have this time – and he will never get it as national coach. It is an interesting experiment that will take place over the next few weeks. The intelligent, rhetorically extremely gifted football coach therefore said some very interesting things on Saturday night. He was hurt by the way the German national team did not use its playing superiority, especially at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, which was also a failure on many other levels. That is why he does not want anything to be given away at the 2024 European Championship in Germany. Everyone has to go to the limit. In every game. And if it is not enough to reach Europe’s football summit, the national coach in particular can live with that. The fans perhaps even too.

Source: Stern

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