Wasteful Germany bemoan mental lapse
15 October 2014, 12:07
Berlin - Germany only had themselves to blame for a late mental lapse that led to Ireland's stoppage-time equaliser on Tuesday with coach Joachim Loew frustrated by a "naive" end to a match they had dominated.
Loew had no doubt imagined a completely different outcome to Germany's two Euro 2016 qualifiers this past week for a side still basking in the glory of lifting the World Cup in Brazil just three months ago.
However, a 2-0 shock defeat in Poland on Saturday and the surprise 1-1 draw in Gelsenkirchen has left Germany languishing in third spot in Group D, three points behind the leaders.
"I don't have a clear explanation of what happened in the final minutes," Loew said.
"We were naive. We did not control the ball. In those six or seven minutes we lost possession, made mistakes in midfield and allowed them to come back at us with those long balls we hit."
The last time the Germans failed to win at least one match out of two consecutive qualifiers was shortly after Loew took over in 2007.
The Ireland game followed a familiar pattern with Germany enjoying 65 percent possession and playing most of the game in the Irish half, wasting attack after attack, just like they had in Warsaw.
Toni Kroos looked to have finally given the hosts a hard-earned three points when the Real Madrid midfielder fired home to open the scoring in the 71st minute but Germany lacked composure late on and allowed the Irish to grow in confidence.
"It is just incomprehensible what happened," Kroos said. "We just completely lost our game in those final minutes."
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Instead of keeping possession, they opted for long, speculative clearances that were easily picked up by Ireland, who were rewarded for their resilience when John O'Shea, on his 100th appearance, slipped into the box for the equaliser.
In Loew's defence, it could be argued that he was forced to field a weakened team with Bastian Schweinsteiger, Marco Reus, Mesut Ozil, Andre Schuerrle and Sami Khedira among a host of players missing through injury or illness.
But the inability to convert chances in both qualifiers appeared far less an issue than a defence that looks a shadow of the World Cup-winning rearguard with the absence of retired right back Philipp Lahm leaving a gaping hole in quality.
"It is not that we played two catastrophic games because we did not," winger Lukas Podolski said. "But the fact is that you have to get points and we have not managed to do that."
The four-time World Cup winners can make up some of the lost ground when they host minnows Gibraltar in November but that is a scenario that no one would have predicted only a week ago.
"You could see that some of my players were lacking the necessary freshness. Now we will beat Gibraltar in November and then we will bounce back next year," Loew said.
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