The cashmere and charm wears thin for Germany coach Joachim Löw
What a difference a few weeks make. It wasn’t long ago that Joachim Löw, with his expensive jumpers and endearing, Swabian lilt, was the envy of world football. He was the man who brought class to the classless and dragged Germany out of its darkest footballing hour since the war.
All this, of course, was before the pesky Italians worked their black magic again, and once more dumped Germany out of a major international competition. Never has the word bogey team been more appropriate than in the case of Italy when it comes to playing their German neighbours.
The problem for Löw was that the Euro 2012 semi-final in Kiev was supposed to be the turning point. Germany were neither outplayed nor outfought by the Italians in June – they simply capitulated under a whole host of self inflicted wounds. From not playing Marco Reus to employing a reactive tactical set-up: as far as the German public and media were concerned, the blame lay squarely on the shoulders of Löw himself, and no amount of cashmere or charm was going to change that.
Fast forward a few weeks, and it is an even more aggravated Löw who graces the back pages of German newspapers. Prior to the friendly against Argentina last week, the Germany coach made waves with his first notable interview since the semi-final debacle. Gone was the smiling, approachable Jogi of yesteryear – he had been replaced by an indignant irritated gentleman with a point to prove.
Much to the glee of his bandwagon of critics, however, he failed to prove it. His rant last week was followed by a dispiriting 3-1 defeat to Argentina, in which bad luck conspired with a lustless German second half performance to destroy what was supposed to be the glorious return of the Nationalelf’s mojo.
It is tempting to think that, had the game been played before Löw’s miniature fall from grace, the lump of turf which disrupted the ball as goalkeeper Ron Robert Zieler raced out to claim it in a one on one would somehow not have been there. Zieler would have got to the ball, would not have been sent off, and Germany could have remained competitive for the rest of the game.
Likewise, one wonders whether, had Germany won the European Championships, Sami Khedira would have timed his clearance perfectly, rather than letting the ball ricochet off his shin and into his own net.
It is pointless speculation. As one newspaper’s headline read on the morning after the defeat: that’s life. Nor will the Argentina game have a much wider significance ahead of Germany’s World Cup qualifying campaign. The team seemed, quite rightly, relatively unfazed by having been outdone by a mixture of the misfortune and Messi.
Löw, however, remains under the cosh. He and his team are accused of having lost their sense of self belief – a malady which, even in modern German football, is one of the worst fates imaginable.
Certainly, the Germany coach now needs a period of recuperation, and a real opportunity to prove that he is still the man who has come to bring Germany back to the very top of world football. A spotless qualifying campaign would be a good start. Then, he will be all set to re-establish himself as a national hero. For the moment, he remains the guy who should have played Reus, and lost to the Italians. Again. Football, just like fortune, is a fickle friend.Tagged in: euro 2012, football, germany
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