Commentary

Germany stays the course with Joachim Loew -- for now

Joachim Loew, lucky to still be at Germany's helm following its 2018 World Cup debacle, has a crucial six weeks ahead of him.

Coach of Die Mannschaft since succeeding Jurgen Klinsmann after the 2006 World Cup, Loew guided Germany to the 2014 World Cup crown, but followed up with a disappointing semifinal exit at Euro 2016, and Germany's worst World Cup in 80 years, when it failed to reach the knockout stage in Russia.

Germany's federation, the DFB, had before the 2018 World Cup renewed Loew's contract through the 2022 World Cup at a reported annual salary of a $4.4 million.

Germany plays world champion France Sept 6, Peru Sept 9, and the Netherlands Oct. 13.

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The games against France in Munich and the Dutch in Amsterdam are League 1, Group 1 games of the new UEFA Nations League. The last-place finishers in the three-team groups in League 1 get relegated to League 2, and that affects the seeding for Euro 2020 qualifying.

Loew had boasted about Germany's younger generation after the 2017 Confederations Cup win, but his faith in the old guard failed him at the 2018 World Cup.

Yet his 23-player roster for the France and Peru games includes 17 players from the 2018 World Cup and only three debutants: Thilo Kehrer (Paris Saint-Germain), Nico Schulz (Hoffenheim) and Kai Havertz (Bayer Leverkusen).

Three previously capped players who weren't part of the World Cup are back in the squad, including Manchester City's Leroy Sane, the 2017-18 English Premier League Young Player of the Year, whose omission from the 2018 World Cup squad boggled the mind.

Upon announcing his latest squad, Loew took responsibility for the failure at the 2018 World Cup, at which losses to Mexico (1-0) and South Korea (2-0) sandwiched a 2-1 win over Sweden.

"My biggest overestimation was that we would reach at least the next round by dominating games," Loew said. "It was almost like arrogance, I wanted to persist with this tactic for too long and I kept trying to perfect it. I did not set up the team to play a certain way, whereas in 2014, there was a balance.

“Possession in the league is important but at knockout events there needs to be an adaptation. That was my biggest mistake. That I believed with this dominant possession game we will go through the group stage."

Loew also admitted he failed to motivate the team.

"We failed to provide important stimuli for the players," he said. "We only had a small flame, when my players usually have a fire. It would have obviously been my job to demand more from them. When we can get the right balance by reigniting the fire and passion, we will have strong foundations for the team."

Popular theories in Germany for the Russia debacle included the notion that the players who already won a world championship were complacent -- and that Loew is plagued by a weiter so (stay the course) approach. That he's too reluctant to shake things up.

Unlike French coach Didier Deschamps, who so obviously embraced and connected with his young players, Loew deputized the likes of Toni Kroos, who had been publicly critical of the younger players. German media also reported a rift between the veterans and the youngsters who won the Confederations Cup while the 2014 World Cup champs rested during the summer of 2017.

"With a good mix between experience and youth," Loew said, "we’ll get that feeling of absolute determination back. The team will be different.”

If it's not different come October, the DFB will have to realize the perils of staying the course.

12 comments about "Germany stays the course with Joachim Loew -- for now".
  1. frank schoon, August 31, 2018 at 10:12 a.m.

    A lot of gobbly gook, general stuff , that says nothing. Here is what he said. He stated just about every country played defensively, that most games were decided by a counter or dead ball play and as result we have to be better prepared for those eventualities.
    What  this means that you will probably see many college teams and other teams  employing this tactic -defensive and hope for dead ball play success. This tactic will be great for coaches who themselves were never very good players, technically handicapped ,for it takes less brains and thinking than to play creatively. And as a result you will see more of these of types of coaches come out of the woodwork. What I"m afraid of is that the technical side, the creative side of soccer, will become less of a factor  to be stressed, which is what happened in the early 70's when coaches began to emphasize more  the physical rather than the technical. The reason was because the Dutch team of '74(total soccer) and the Ajax of 70-'73 emphasized a lot of physical in their training. Of course these stupid coaches along with Coaching Academy Schools that copied the Dutch totally OVERLOOKED that the Dutch players were such great technicians and individualists that the only thing they could possibly impove upon was the physical side of the game. In other words everything these coaches were teaching their players was wrong for it not only made the players worse ,technically ,but also reduced the quality of the game. And as a result , today, we have so many players run with foam on their mouths for they need space to make an action as compared to real technical players who can do things on a dime and much quicker employing less space and time....AND SOCCER IS ALL ABOUT TIME AND SPACE....
    I hope Germany will continue to play the way they did but be more aware of the counter possibilities....

  2. Bob Ashpole replied, August 31, 2018 at 11 a.m.

    Frank, I think you have to consider that in the group stage of the finals, teams do tend to play to avoid losing rather than playing to win. On the other hand few teams after winning the first match fail to advance. What he said makes sense in that light, but that doesn't alter your point about matches being won or lost based on technical advantages in the individual battles. 

    The point you didn't make was that the greatest teams are flexible--they can dominate play multiple ways not just one. But dominating play is like breathing air. Goes without saying. 


  3. frank schoon replied, August 31, 2018 at 11:27 a.m.

    Bob, that maybe true, but soccer in the past 10 years has taken a defensive slant, this is why the term "park the bus" has become so prevalent. The reason soccer has become so defensive is due in part to Mourinho when he coached Real Madrid for that was the only way to counter the offensive minded Barcelona that ran roughshot in the world of soccer at that time...Other teams began to copy that style. In other words , yes ,teams have to watch themselves in the group stages but what we have is regardless of group stage  the teams have chosen to play more defensively

  4. Bob Ashpole, August 31, 2018 at 12:20 p.m.

    My first inclination is to blame defensive play on the increased role of coaches during matches since the 1980s and their forcing negative attitudes on players. But then, I remember Italy and catenaccio. I will never understand where that came from. Must be something in the water :)

  5. frank schoon replied, August 31, 2018 at 1:19 p.m.

    Bob, Catenachio came about in Italy due to certain teams having lots of money and could get what they want, therefore the poorer teams had to combat this. The Argentinian Herera thought this up. The Italians got good at but it took a team like Ajax with an offensive philosophy to break it up. A good game to watch is Inter-Ajax 1970. If you watch AC Milan-Ajax in 1969, you'll see Ajax play very naive althougy offensive and got beat but the next they took the Italians to task.  

  6. frank schoon replied, August 31, 2018 at 1:25 p.m.

    Bob, you mentioned coaches, which ,to me, is also a problem especially in the youth development. Somehow most of the players that become coaches are former defenders ,organizers who like the structure which to me is wrong or rather use these types when the kids are past 14. And not to mention coaches who haven't played much at all tend to be also more the defensive type for they lack creativity....

  7. Bob Ashpole replied, August 31, 2018 at 7:11 p.m.

    Seemed obvious to me that coaching attacking play (attack and transistion to attack moments) is different than coaching defending (defense and transistion to defense moments). Yet I don't see any discussion of that in coaching courses. On one hand a coach nurtures creativity and unpredictability and on the other hand a coach instills discipline and predictability.

  8. frank schoon replied, August 31, 2018 at 10:08 p.m.

    Well I think creativity and structure play a role at different stages of a player’s development. In the first stage it is all about allowing and experimenting. The second phase is to structure the creativity in the most functional manner. When Cruyff coached Ajax in his first year, he had players like van Basten, Rykaard, Koeman, Vanenburg, great individualist, technicians. He told them now I will teach you  how to play soccer, meaning playing soccer in the most efficient manner using your great skills, also cutting out frivolity. Structure and organization dominate in the latter phase...

  9. uffe gustafsson, September 2, 2018 at 10:24 p.m.

    Totally disagree with frank.
    most of the games where good attacking soccer.
    not like the 94 WC w Italy parking the bus and went on to the final that probably the worst I ever seen.
    germany clearly had some internal issues like France had some years ago and both failed miserably.
    team chemistry is vital in WC.


  10. frank schoon replied, September 2, 2018 at 10:39 p.m.

    Uffe, then must also disagree with Klopp who states the same thing about how defensively this WC has been. As far as i’m Concerned this was the worst WC and i’ve Seen them since ‘58.  I thought WC’14 was the worst but ‘18 has taken the prize so far....

  11. frank schoon replied, September 2, 2018 at 10:43 p.m.

    Uffe, I meant To say Joachim Loew, that you also are disagreeing with as far as pertaining to the defensive nature of this WC.

  12. R2 Dad, September 4, 2018 at 1:52 a.m.

    I think Gotze, who has been a dissappointment since the 2014 WC, was the warning sign but they played him through 2017. 2018 saw Neuer get the call even though he wasnt fit and didnt play for about a year before the WC. Khediera lost a step or two and was completely overrun. Ozil has struggled at Arsenal but Loew played him, too. I don't think Brandt has the required quality, but Loew wanted him for the chemistry in the dressing room since Sane was perceived as the disrupter. The core was too old for this young man's game, and Loew didn't have the huevos to sit the guys in 2015 who didn't retire after the '14 WC.

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