It would still be foolish to write off Low's Germany at Euro 2020

Yes, Germany’s 6-0 humiliation in Spain is ominous… for everyone else! They had brilliant World Cups after 5-1 England trouncing in 2001 and being humbled by Italy in 2006… so will they bounce back again for Euro 2020 glory?

  • Germany suffered a 6-0 defeat to Spain in the Nations League on Tuesday night
  • Manager Joachim Low will certainly come under increased pressure as a result
  • But it would still be foolish to discount Germany’s chances at Euro 2020 
  • They have a history of suffering heavy losses before doing well at tournaments
  • In 2001 they lost 5-1 to England but went on to reach the final of the World Cup
  • Germany lost 4-1 to Italy months before 2006 tournament but made semi-finals
  • In 1954, West Germany lost 8-3 to Hungary in the group but went on to win it 

The one-sided nature of the scoreline sent shockwaves through international football.

Germany being hit for six certainly isn’t something you see very often, even if it was at the hands of a very talented Spain team.

It was their worst defeat in almost 90 years – they lost 6-0 at home to Austria in 1931 (then lost 5-0 away to them later the same year) – and their worst ever in a competitive fixture.

It was a terrible night for Germany as they were thrashed 6-0 by Spain in the Nations League

Goalkeeper Manuel Neuer and his defenders look crestfallen as the goals fly in on Tuesday 

Germany coach Joachim Low doesn’t know where to look as his team were humiliated  

Only a 9-0 spanking by England Amateurs in Oxford in March 1909 outranks Tuesday night’s humiliation as a heavier defeat and that was only the fourth time the fledgling German national team had taken to the field.

So it was undoubtedly a night to rewrite the record books, but history also tells us that such results are ominous. That’s ominous for everyone else, not for Germany.

It isn’t uncommon for Die Mannschaft to suffer a bit of a hiding in the lead up to a major tournament or even at a major tournament and end up performing rather well.

We all remember how England thrashed Rudi Voller’s Germany 5-1 on that heady night in Munich back in September 2001.

Yet the following year it was Germany reaching the World Cup final, losing 2-0 to Brazil, whereas England exited in the quarter-finals.

England thrashed Germany 5-1 in September 2001 in a World Cup qualifier in Munich 

Michael Owen scored a hat-trick on one of the most famous night for the England team

But the German team recovered strongly to reach the final of the 2002 tournament 

Ahead of the 2006 World Cup, expectations of a home triumph were well and truly doused by a 4-1 beating by Italy just three months before the tournament.

And yet, Jurgen Klinsmann’s team battled their way through to the semi-finals in their home World Cup before Italy again proved their nemesis.

Setbacks have even occurred during the tournament itself. In 1954, the West Germany team were thrashed 8-3 by hot favourites Hungary in the group stage, with the great Sandor Kocsis scoring four of them.

And yet, when the two nations met again in the final, it was the Germans who won 3-2, a comeback from being two goals behind inside the first eight minutes in what is still called the ‘Miracle of Bern’.

Germany were outclassed by Italy months before the 2006 World Cup, losing 4-1 in Florence

It raised doubts about whether Jurgen Klinsmann’s side would perform at the World Cup

But Germany finished third in their home tournament having lost to Italy in the semi-finals

So it would be foolish to write them off for the rearranged Euro 2020 next year just yet.

While the 6-0 defeat in Spain will inevitably raise the pressure on their extraordinarily long-serving coach Joachim Low, nobody will count out the Germans.

As always, wider context is useful. Germany were unbeaten in 12 matches prior to Tuesday night as they searched for that elusive pre-tournament momentum in a year that has seen so much Covid-19 disruption.

They topped their Euro 2020 qualifying group ahead of Holland and racked up 30 goals in eight matches.

Their Nations League campaign has proved more of a slog and yet Low’s team finished it just two points behind Spain, who leapfrogged them on Tuesday night.

A more competent defensive performance would have seen them qualify for the finals of the tournament next October.

Back in 1954, West Germany won the World Cup by defeating Hungary in the final in Bern… just days after the same Hungary has thrashed them 8-3 in the group stage

That’s a dramatic improvement on their 2018 Nations League efforts, which saw them finish winless and bottom of a three-team group below Holland and France.

By rights, they should have suffered the ignominy of relegation into League B but were spared by UEFA’s insistence on restructuring the competition.

Low would have been aware of a need to tighten up defensively even before Ferran Torres, Alvaro Morata, Rodri and company ran riot this week.

They have shared six goals with both Turkey and Switzerland since international football resumed in September.

The 3-3 draw with Turkey in Cologne at the start of October, a friendly, saw Low persist with a three-man defence that has in their latest games been shelved.

Low with Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger during Germany’s friendly with Czech Republic

Robin Koch of Leeds has featured regularly in the Germany back line in recent months 

It contained Chelsea’s Antonio Rudiger, Robin Koch of Leeds United and Emre Can, though two of Turkey’s goals were scored when Jonathan Tah had replaced Rudiger in the second-half.

Germany played a four-man defence for the 3-3 draw against Switzerland with Rudiger partnering Matthias Ginter of Borussia Monchengladbach.

Against Spain, Koch partnered Niklas Sule of Bayern Munich in central defence with Rudiger out suspended.

Time is fast running out for Low to get it right, especially in what remains an unsettled back line.

Inevitably, Tuesday night’s humiliation resulted in the old debate over why Low dropped Jerome Boateng and Mats Hummels from his squad last year.

Those two, plus Thomas Muller, were the collateral for Germany’s early World Cup exit in 2018 but it’s unlikely Low will turn back time now.

Jerome Boateng (left), Mats Hummels (centre) and Thomas Muller (right) were all dropped by Low after Germany’s group stage exit at the 2018 World Cup

Timo Werner looks on stunned as Germany suffered their worst defeat since 1931

Germany certainly have enough firepower in attack to go the distance at next year’s Euros

In charge of the Germany team for 14 years, with another two left on his contract, Low has constantly had to renew and refresh things.

His current crop, boasting the likes of Serge Gnabry, Leroy Sane, Timo Werner and Kai Havertz in attack, has the potential to excite and to challenge at the Euros.

Yes, they face a daunting group containing France and Portugal (plus Hungary, who may assume whipping boy status). They may come up against England in the last-16.

But as history has shown us repeatedly, it isn’t a good idea to rule out German success on the basis of just one defeat, however humiliating.

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