Germany facing prospect of Nations League relegation after losing to Netherlands

Posted Sunday, October 14, 2018 by

Germany facing prospect of Nations League relegation after losing to Netherlands
Germany have suffered their fifth defeat in nine games

Bottom of their Nations League group and facing the prospect of relegation from the competition's top tier after losing to their rivals the Netherlands, Joachim Low's Germany are in crisis.

The 2014 World Cup winners suffered a shock group-stage exit from this summer's edition in Russia and, four months on, after a draw at home to France and a 3-0 defeat on Saturday away to the Dutch, now face a real battle to avoid relegation from League A in the Nations League.

That's five defeats in their last nine matches and it's been a remarkable fall from grace for Germany, who went into the 2018 World Cup among the favourites after their second string won the 2017 Confederations Cup in such impressive fashion. So what's wrong?

Poor finishing

Germany had 21 shots against the Netherlands but found the target with just four of them, and that rather sums up their potency in front of goal right now. In fact, it takes their tally to two goals from 107 shots in their past five matches.

Chief culprits on Saturday were Thomas Muller, who blasted into the side netting after breaking through in the first half, and substitute Leroy Sane, who dragged an effort wide from six yards out with the score at 1-0. But Julian Draxler and Timo Werner were guilty of wasting good opportunities too.

Low is in desperate need of a goal scorer to make the difference for his side.

Disjointed play

While Germany improved after the break in Amsterdam, their first-half display didn't come anywhere near the level we have become accustomed to expecting from this team.

They completed just 69 per cent of their passes in the final third, with a Werner through ball to nobody just before the break epitomising the miscommunication between the visiting players.

A misplaced Jerome Boateng pass in the middle of the park was almost costly, with Georginio Wijnaldum seeing his resulting shot saved, and all across the pitch the Dutch were sharper to the loose ball, while Germany struggled to find connections, especially in the first 45.

Defensive disorganisation

It's a trait rarely associated with Germany teams but right now, their defence looks worryingly disorganised.

That was plainly evident for the opening goal, when Manuel Neuer misjudged the flight of the corner and was out of position to watch Virgil van Dijk react quickest to the rebound after Ryan Babel had out-jumped the German defence to head against the bar.

Germany, who continued to look uncomfortable from Dutch set-pieces, then needed a fortunate, goal-saving intervention from Matthias Ginter to prevent Babel adding a quick-fire second, while the hosts' counter-attacks always looked dangerous - and did the damage in the final stages.

Low confidence

Toni Kroos launched a strong defence of Low ahead of this game, after Michael Ballack had been quoted criticising the manager, but there are clearly growing concerns about the direction this team is going in - and whether Low is the man to turn their fortunes around.

Saturday's clash was his 168th in charge of the national team, a record total for a Germany manager, but it won't be one he'll look back on fondly.

His cause hasn't be helped by the problems Bayern Munich are facing in the Bundesliga right now. Germany's number one side are feeling the pressure and under scrutiny of their own after failing to win any of their last four - and five of Low's starting line-up play for the struggling giants.

Neuer, Boateng, Mats Hummels, Joshua Kimmich and Muller started on Saturday and although it's tough to measure the dent in confidence those players will have suffered from their club form, coming into an out-of-sorts national team camp won't have helped.

Regardless of these problems, though, Low and his Germany squad must galvanise themselves for a tough trip to France on Tuesday - they cannot afford a Nations League relegation on the back of their group-stage World Cup exit.



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