Joachim Loew has demanded a reaction from his young Germany team against group C leaders Northern Ireland tonight after their recent resurgence was cut short by their Euro 2020 qualifying 4-2 defeat to the Netherlands.
Having come into the international break on a wave of optimism, Loew’s side now travel to Belfast on Monday needing a win to keep their qualification campaign on course against a Northern Irish side yet to drop a point in four qualifying matches.
“We need to win, we need to approach the game in such a way that we leave the pitch as winners,” said Loew on Friday.
Germany had just begun to find their feet after a long period of recovery from their disastrous campaign at last year’s World Cup.
The group stage exit in Russia prompted a major generational overhaul, and after three wins in a row in 2019, Loew’s new-look young team were full of confidence ahead of Friday’s game.
Victory over the Dutch would have put second-placed Germany nine points clear of their rivals and left Germany on the brink of automatic qualification.
Instead, they now find themselves only three points above the playoff place, having played a game more than the Netherlands.
“We will need to pick the young players up a bit and give them the feeling that they can be stronger. I am sure we will see a reaction on Monday,” said Loew.
The Germany coach, who was criticised for playing with a back three and allowing his team to sit deep against the Netherlands, also said that he would make tactical changes against Northern Ireland.
“Northern Ireland are amazingly robust, they play a lot of long balls. They will sit deeper and we will not have much space, so we need to think of something tactically,” he said.
Loew defended his tactics, yet the German media remained critical on Saturday.
Berlin daily Der Tagesspiegel warned that “lessons must be learned” from the defeat to the Netherlands, while the country’s biggest tabloid Bild said that “alarm bells” were now ringing around the qualification campaign.
Kicker magazine claimed there was “no need to panic yet”, but Germany captain Manuel Neuer warned his side against complacency ahead of their visit to Belfast.
“We know that anything can happen in football, we experienced that ourselves in 2018, so it is important we take this game seriously,” he told Bild newspaper.
“It is not ideal for us to be playing an away game in Belfast right now. They have won all their games so far and it is always difficult to score goals against such opponents.”