Coaches the world over are accustomed to dismissing defeats in friendlies as meaningless by claiming the performance was more important.
But losing and playing badly into the bargain is undeniably a poor outcome over 90 minutes and Germany coach Joachim Loew must now lift his squad for the next friendly against Italy tomorrow after Saturday’s 3-2 loss to England from two goals up.
“Such a defeat in a friendly is not quite so difficult to cope with he said. “We now have a game on Tuesday when a really strong opponent in Italy is coming to us. We will analyse the (England) match although we can live with it. But of course you are annoyed.”
Loew will wonder just what happened in the midfield, without injured captain Bastian Schweinsteiger, which allowed England to flow forward so freely in the last half hour and turn the game in Berlin. Full-backs Jonas Hector and Emre Can, deputising from his usual place in midfield, also failed to impress.
“We know where we have to work after such a game,” Loew said. “It was clear our combinations and runs did not always work out as I had imagined. Especially in the second half we were not well organized or compact. We gave up an incredible amount of room.”
The fact is that World Cup champions Germany have now lost three of their last four matches in qualifiers and friendlies with only a solitary win over Georgia brightening defeats against Ireland, France and England.
Italy in Munich is the next step on the road to the Euro 2016 in France but Antonio Conte’s team is not one the Germans have traditionally relished meeting.
The Italians have never lost to Germay in a major finals and eliminated Loew’s side from the Euro 2012 semis. Germany’s last friendly win over Italy came way back in 1995.
“We played well for an hour (against England),” Sami Khedira, captain in place of Schweinsteiger, said. “We need to play well for 90 minutes against Italy and in the European Championship.”
One of the few players who can be truly happy with his performance in Berlin is striker Mario Gomez, who claimed his first international goal since 2012 with a second-half header and had a first-half strike wrongly disallowed.
“Personally, I am happy that I am back and been able to have another chance,” he said. “I am looking to help the team more now rather than worrying about whether or not I score goals.”
Germany have played without an out and out goalscorer since Miroslav Klose retired following the 2014 World Cup. Gomez, after a poor spell in Italy, has rediscovered his goal touch with Besiktas and could well be an option in France.
“He has the nose for goals again,” Loew said. “In Italy he was injured a lot and never had a good competitive run. In Turkey he nearly always plays and you see that.”
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