News : German national team beats Latvia 7-1: No reason for euphoria
The German national players are hungry. Hungry for success, that was shown by the 7-1 win against Latvia a few days before the start of the European Championship. Most of all, they are hungry for recognition, applause, and affection. 1000 fans were allowed in Düsseldorf. In pre-Corona times, these were more numbers from a well-attended amateur game than one from the national team. But these 1000 spectators, who basically did nothing special, but occasionally chanted “Germany”, made for a long-lost elation among the professionals.
After more than a year without fans in the stadiums, the Düsseldorf stadium with its sparsely occupied lower tier must have radiated the energy of a cauldron. The players waved, they ran a lap of honor and Robin Gosens, who is compared to Lukas Podolski because of his open manner, went “one off” in view of the support from outside, which was also due to his first goal in the DFB dress.
At the EM, which opens on Friday, the German team will even play three times in front of 14,000 spectators in Munich. In the knockout phase there could be even more, other cities allow higher contingents. Everything seems to be in place for a successful tournament for the DFB, because after the defeat in March against North Macedonia, the draw against Denmark and the definition of a three-way defense system, things are also looking up.
And yet there is still no reason to be euphoric.
A 7: 1 against such a weak opponent has very little meaning – just remember the 8: 2 test against Liechtenstein in 2000 or the 7: 0 win against Malta four years later. At the following European championships, the DFB team was eliminated after the preliminary round. A repetition of these historic tournament failures is at least not ruled out, as two top opponents are waiting in Munich with France (June 15) and Portugal (June 19). The opponents are then called Kylian Mbappé or Cristiano Ronaldo and not Roberts Uldrikis.
The team of national coach Joachim Löw made an important development step against the second-rate Latvians. The exploitation of opportunities, a major problem in recent months, could hardly have been better. With Thomas Müller, Serge Gnabry, Kai Havertz, Timo Werner and Leroy Sané, all offensive players who could start against France were involved in at least one goal. And the defensive has gained an important leader in Mats Hummels, who makes the whole construct seem more stable.
One mistake hits the mind
National coach Löw looked surprisingly reserved after the game, if not dissatisfied. His mood could be fixed on the goal. When the score was 6-0, the substitute Emre Can was too far away from his opponent, which resulted in the freedom of movement of Aleksejs Seveljevs, who then hit with an untenable shot from 18 meters. Such “moments decide games,” said the 61-year-old on RTL. “Something like that, from a throw-in, I don’t want to see that.” It takes 90 minutes of concentration against world champions France to avoid conceding easy goals.
There are even more indications that Germany will not become the title favorites within one game after the bumpy years following the 2018 World Cup. The idea of making Joshua Kimmich a right-back again is a good one and initially solves several problems. On the one hand, Löw closes a weak point in the squad that neither Lukas Klostermann, Emre Can or Matthias Ginter could fix. In addition, the national coach in midfield can use Toni Kroos, who was already there, and the formally strong İlkay Gündoğan, who otherwise might have fallen by the wayside. Now only Leon Goretzka is left out of the potential regular players, but he needs more training days after his injury anyway.
But why did Löw move Kimmich so late? He believes that the Munich resident has no “teething problems” in any position and is always there immediately. His performance against Latvia says otherwise, Kimmich interspersed an unusually large number of inaccuracies. Over time it got better, he prepared the goal for Timo Werner, but now there is only training left until the opener against France.
In addition, the transfer of Kimmich changes the entire statics in the German game. It is now played more on the right side (against Latvia, 40 percent of the attacks were initiated via Kimmich’s side), which doesn’t have to be bad, but takes time. Time that would also have served the better integration of Müller. In the last European Championship test, it often seemed as if the teammates who did not play for FC Bayern had not yet internalized the opportunities Müller offers them.
The initial phase against Latvia showed how unwieldy the DFB team can be. However, Germany will have a lot less possession phases against France. Then Müller and Kimmich will have to show on the defensive how well they have internalized Löw’s ideas.