News : Jogi Löw at the EM: The last tournament decides on the national coach rating
Column by Martin Volkmar: The last tournament decisively defines what will remain of the Löw era at the DFB
The evaluation of Joachim Löw’s tenure as national coach depends crucially on his performance at the European Football Championship in 2021, his last tournament. It will be decisive whether he will fail again on himself or will present himself again as a successful coach from earlier times.
For many long-time observers, memories from 15 years ago have come up again these days.
At that time, the World Cup host Germany in Geneva was preparing for the World Cup in Geneva, far from the euphoria at home and, just like today, shortly before the tournament, did not know where it stood in comparison with the top nations.
DFB team: Shaky defense then as now the problem
A problem then as now was the shaky defense. In 2006 Jogi Löw worked almost every day as assistant to Jürgen Klinsmann on the coordination of the defensive. His loud announcements and almost angry interactions during a session in front of the astonished journalists in the Stade de Geneve are legendary.
After that, Löw gave one of his first keynote speeches, which were later to be followed by countless others. Its mission was nothing less than modernizing antiquated Teutonic football.
Jogi Löw: “Going back to German virtues is the wrong approach”
“It is the wrong approach to say that we have to run, run and fight back to the old German virtues,” said Löw. “Those are the basics for survival. Every small nation can do that. But those who can do arithmetic are far from becoming a mathematics professor.”
Löw himself did not see himself as a professor at the time, but at least as a football teacher on a “high level”. Nothing has changed about that, as his persistent and usually very informative lecturing in front of journalists as well as players, when he gets going and the topic is important to him.
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As an onlooker at the training camp in Seefeld, you could see how the national coach kept interrupting the units for minutes to give detailed explanations. Loew said these days that “a lot of basic work is necessary again”. And like at the beginning of his now ending term of office at the DFB, the defensive is the problem child.
DFB team: 16 goals conceded in eight international matches in 2020
In the eight international matches in 2020, the national team had to concede an unbelievable 16 goals, alleged regulars like Niklas Süle or Antonio Rüdiger sometimes made beginner mistakes. Therefore, in the five international matches before the EM nomination, Löw tried four back four with different players, only to switch back to a back three.
It is not a daring prognosis that this tactical decision will be massively reproached for Löw if the team does not survive the “death group” with world champions France, European champions Portugal and Hungary. Because public trust in the national coach has fallen rapidly after the setbacks of the past few months, which was ultimately the reason for his premature departure after this tournament.
In any case, Löw was never undisputed during his tenure, even after the 2014 World Cup triumph. The 61-year-old is one of only four German world champion coaches and statistically one of the most successful national coaches in the association’s history.
DFB team: European championship title was unnecessarily gambled away in 2012 and 2016
But according to the critics, the triumph in Brazil was won not because of, but in spite of Löw. In addition, he gave away other titles, sometimes frivolously, through overconfidence and technical misjudgments.
In fact, the German team was already at least on par with the eventual winners Spain at the 2012 European Championship, but despite the successes, Löw changed his starting eleven so often that Italy’s national coach Cesare Prandelli the lack of automatisms in the semifinals and the blatant mistake, Toni Kroos against Andrea Pirlo to face the 2-0 badly punished.
Four years later at the last European Championship, Löw’s mistakes weren’t that serious, but in the end he had to endure massive criticism, including from experts like Ralf Rangnick. Because although the DFB-Elf was clearly the strongest team in the tournament, the semifinals ended again due to ball possession, individual mistakes and offensive harmlessness.
Jogi Löw: The last tournament decides on the evaluation of the term of office
On the other hand, reaching the final round of the last four teams in London after the historic World Cup disgrace in 2018 would be rated as a success this time. After the recent bankruptcies at 6-0 in Spain and the 2-1 draw against North Macedonia, Löw has lost so much credit that now his last tournament will decide on the public evaluation of the entire term of office.
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The decisive question will be which national coach will prevail in the end: The self-confident, slightly aloof Mr. Jogi like at the EM 2012 and the 2018 World Cup or the meticulous and focused Doctor Löw at the 2010 and 2014 World Cup.
Both seem possible, even the greatest experts are currently finding it difficult to make a prognosis due to the numerous uncertainties. “We don’t have to hide behind France either,” said record international player Lothar Matthäus in an interview with SPOX and Goal and on the one hand considers the semi-finals possible, but on the other hand only expects third place in the preliminary group.
DFB squad weak outside and in front, oversupply in the middle
So it will be decisive whether Löw can get the best possible out of his “rough” team over the last few meters. The outside positions and the striker are still the big problem areas, but there is a total oversupply of top players in the midfield.
Therefore, Löw’s tactics and, above all, formation should be the key. Does he decide to use the best starting eleven in the correct position or to distribute the best eleven players on the pitch in the best possible way?
At the moment it looks more like the latter case: The decision for a three-man chain is due to the lack of defensive quality of the outside players, before that there are actually only midfielders. Therefore Joshua Kimmich, although he is the only six at the top level, will have to give way to the right, while a real attacker will be missing at the front.
Löw’s big risk without a real six
“France and Portugal are typical counter-teams, they live from counter-pressing,” said Löw in an interview with SPOX and Goal at the beginning of last year.
The greater the risk of not having Kimmich as a breakwater in front of the defense and instead occupying the double six with Ilkay Gündogan and Toni Kroos. Because that backfired at 6-0 in Spain when the DFB-Elf was overrun time and again after losing the ball.
And Pep Guardiola also experienced shipwreck in the Champions League final with Manchester City against Chelsea (0: 1) by renouncing a real defensive midfielder and relegating the dangerous Gündogan.
It will therefore be interesting to see whether Mr. Jogi, who is often indifferent to the recent setbacks, will watch a possible failure or whether the pragmatic Doctor Löw will experience a kind of rebirth.
DFB team: Even at the 2014 World Cup, the best line-up was only found late
As with his masterpiece, the World Cup success, when he only found the best line-up in the course of the tournament with the initial noble reservists Bastian Schweinsteiger, Sami Khedira and Miroslav Klose in the starting line-up and the return of captain Philipp Lahm from midfield to the right defensive side .
In Brazil, too, the later success story could have ended with a bit of bad luck in the preliminary round or in the round of 16 against Algeria. No matter how this last business trip of the Freiburg man ends, then, as after all previous seven tournaments, he will first dive into his southern Baden homeland and process everything in peace.
The good news for Löw: Here you know him, here you leave him alone – regardless of whether he returns as a failed Mr. Jogi or a triumphant Doctor Löw.
About the person: As Head of Portals & Content at Football.Co and editor-in-chief, Martin Volkmar is responsible for the sports website SPOX.com and the German-language editorial team of the world’s largest football platform Goal.com.
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