France clash 'a final' for low

Former Germany captain Lothar Matthaus has urged Joachim Low to replace first-choice goalkeeper Manuel Neuer (left) with Barcelona No. 1 Marc-Andre ter Stegen for today's Nations League clash with world champions France. The Bayern Munich goalkeeper
Former Germany captain Lothar Matthaus has urged Joachim Low to replace first-choice goalkeeper Manuel Neuer (left) with Barcelona No. 1 Marc-Andre ter Stegen for today's Nations League clash with world champions France. The Bayern Munich goalkeeper twice fractured his foot last year.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Germany manager's position could become untenable if they suffer a sixth defeat this year

PARIS • The German press may be divided over whether today's Nations League clash with world champions France represents D-Day for embattled manager Joachim Low, but the general consensus is that his position is no longer tenable.

In the aftermath of the 3-0 away defeat by the Netherlands on Saturday, Low's joint-worst result of his 12-year tenure, the local media have been savage in their assessment of Die Mannschaft, who have already suffered five losses this year.

Der Bild has labelled their Nations League meeting as "a final for Low", while the Frankfurter Allgemeine was equally pessimistic, saying: "Germany is in danger to be relegated", which would be a new low after their dismal World Cup display, when they crashed out after finishing bottom of their group in Russia.

While the Westdeutsche Allgemeine has given a lifeline to Low until Germany face the Dutch in the Nations League again, this time at home next month, adding that he "faces a stormy autumn", his precarious position will surely take a turn for the worse if they lose in Paris.

Low, whose side are currently propping up Group One in the Nations League, will be on the verge of relegation from the competition's top tier with a record sixth defeat in a calendar year.

Following the Amsterdam debacle, the Germans have now failed to score in three consecutive competitive matches for the first time in their history and have grabbed only 10 goals in their last 12 games, which does not bode well for the encounter with Les Bleus.

And Low's side will have to contend with the likes of Kylian Mbappe, Antoine Griezmann and Olivier Giroud in the absence of defender Jerome Boateng, who has been ruled out with a calf injury.

  • -22% 

    Drop in Manuel Neuer's save percentage this season.

Former Germany stalwart Per Mertesacker added his voice to growing calls for Low's head with a stark message that things had to change "very quickly", or there could be a "very difficult situation".

"We can start to think about what we have done wrong and where our reputation has gone to a very negative energy," the 104-cap retired defender told The Sun.

"They (Germany) have changed a few players and staff were removed but, in terms of the big figures, they have stayed... It is getting stranger all the time."

Former Germany captain and TV pundit Oliver Kahn also urged Low to stop putting his faith in the Bayern Munich axis of Boateng, Manuel Neuer, Mats Hummels and Thomas Muller, with the quartet woefully out of form, a far cry from the heady days when they were an integral part of the squad that won the 2014 World Cup.

"At some point, Low has to consider how much longer will it make sense for him to put his trust in established, experienced players," he added.

Lothar Matthaus, another former Germany captain, concurred with Kahn, demanding that Neuer be dropped for Barcelona No. 1 Marc-Andre ter Stegen, with the Bayern goalkeeper past his best after twice fracturing his foot last year.

The 32-year-old's save percentage has dropped to 58 per cent from over 80 per cent before the World Cup in Russia.

"Ter Stegen deserves to play as he is playing at the top level, while Neuer currently hasn't reached his former performance level again," he said.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 16, 2018, with the headline 'France clash 'a final' for low'. Print Edition | Subscribe