Speechlessness. Blandness. Anger. That’s the reaction from the home team and their supporters after a 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifier in Berlin. The game: Germany v Sweden. The final result: 4-4. It was a memorable extravaganza for neutrals and Swedish fans. But it was not a draw for the Germans; it was a devastating defeat against a visiting Scandinavian team led by superstar Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
But why? Well, the answer is quite simple! Germany outplayed the Swedish team in the first 60 minutes of the game with some spectacular attacking football, perfect combinations and well executed attacks on the opposite goal. Miroslav Klose (2x), Per Mertesacker and Mesut Özil gave the Germans a 4-0 lead and it seemed like the “Mannschaft” would score another heavy win after their 6-1 demolition of the Republic of Ireland in Dublin on Friday.
There were no signs of a Swedish comeback before Ibrahimovic reduced the margin in the 62th minute. But one could feel the nervousness around the pitch and the stands as Mikael Lustig scored another goal for the “Blågult” (The Blue-Yellow) just two minutes later.
And yes… Watching the match I had the impression that the game was far from over! The Germans looked completely different from the impressive team of the first 60 minutes! Unforced errors and abstraction all around the pitch… It was a totally different match!
Germany coach Joachim Löw told that problems “have been mental after 60 minutes. We became sloppy and lost our discipline.” Skipper Philipp Lahm added: “We thought the game was already over!”
Johan Elmander and Rasmus Elm put the final nails in the German coffin and left the German team and supporters stranded in a nirvana of emotions.
But what will be the consequences for the German team and coach Joachim Löw? The headlines in the German media a day after the historic match are devastating. There has been a lot of criticism for the German team and especially Löw’s tactics since their UEFA EURO 2012 exit against Italy.
Is there any justified reason to question Löw’s credentials and the work he has done so far? I have a strong opinion to this question: NO! Well, football coaches will be evaluated on their success and the titles they win. That’s part of the football “business”. But success is based on a strong and elaborated foundation and long-term planning.
Löw has taken the German team to new heights and the first 60 minutes against Sweden were on par with the qualities of reigning world and European champions Spain, if not even better! Setbacks like the defeat against Italy in the UEFA EURO 2012 and the 4-4 draw against Sweden will be vital lessons for the young German team on their way to finally clinching a major trophy since the UEFA EURO 1996.
Drawing a match after holding a 4-0 lead is a major disappointment for any team in the world, and it will always earn criticism in a football crazy country like Germany. But one should never forget to see the overall progress and the prospects for the future. And the prospects for German football are bright!
The much awaited big title is within their reach, and most probably just a matter of time! But the wait is always the toughest test for any team, individual and country, isn’t it…?