World Cup 2018: 10 days to go

Low hits out at 'sloppy' Germany

Bayern Munich goalkeeper Manuel Neuer looks set to go to Russia, having had a good comeback after eight months out with a foot injury.
Bayern Munich goalkeeper Manuel Neuer looks set to go to Russia, having had a good comeback after eight months out with a foot injury.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

He says they can forget about retaining title unless they improve, despite Neuer's return

KLAGENFURT (Austria) • Germany may be one of the favourites heading into next week's World Cup Finals in Russia, but the last time the world champions won a match was last October.

Following Saturday's 2-1 shock defeat by Austria, coach Joachim Low knows that his team's five-game winless streak does not bode well. The 58-year-old reacted by slamming his "sloppy" team.

"If we play like that in Russia, then we have no chance," fumed Low in Klagenfurt after the match.

Germany have now suffered their second straight defeat after a 1-0 loss to Brazil in Berlin in March. Before that, the Germans drew 1-1 with Spain, 2-2 with France and 0-0 with England.

Their last victory was a 5-1 thrashing of Azerbaijan in their final World Cup qualifier.

"We didn't put into practice what we had planned," Low added of his side's poor performance.

"After the break, we fell into a pattern which I didn't like at all and we were far too sloppy in our game going forward."

However, he was keeping calm with one eye on the World Cup.

NOT ACCORDING TO PLAN

If we play like that in Russia, then we have no chance. We didn't put into practice what we had planned.

 JOACHIM LOW , Germany coach, on his team's 2-1 defeat by Austria on Saturday.

"There is a lot of work to do, but we won't drive ourselves crazy," he said. "In two weeks, the team will be very differently prepared and I won't be having sleepless nights."

The good news, though, is that Bayern Munich goalkeeper Manuel Neuer looks set to go to Russia, having proved his fitness despite eight months on the sidelines due to a foot injury.

However, when the Germany defence buckled in the second half, Neuer was powerless to stop Martin Hinteregger and Alessandro Schoepf scoring after Mesut Ozil had given the Germans an early lead.

"That was a good comeback from Manuel Neuer after so long out," said Low. "He made one or two outstanding saves, but the defeat annoys me."

He declined to comment when a poll by national broadcaster ZDF showed the majority of German fans would rather see Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-Andre Ter Stegen than Neuer play at the World Cup.

Both Neuer and Ter Stegen are set to fly to Russia.

Low left out World Cup winners Thomas Muller, Toni Kroos, Mats Hummels and Jerome Boateng, and the Germans controlled the rain-delayed game for only the first half an hour before they crumbled.

This was Austria's first win over their neighbours in nearly 32 years - dating back to October 1986 when Rudi Voller scored West Germany's only goal in a 4-1 defeat in Vienna.

But Austria's match-winner still sees Germany as among the favourites to retain their world title in Russia.

"It's always fun to win, but it is especially nice against Germany," said Schalke midfielder Schoepf.

"But they have some quality players and are still one of the favourites for the title."

Low must cut four names today before Germany name their final 23-man World Cup squad and several players have reason to worry.

"After the break, we couldn't find a structure that deserved to win against Austria," said Nils Petersen.

The Freiburg striker was the top-scoring German in the Bundesliga, but is one of the chief candidates to be axed after making his debut for 76 minutes against Austria.

"I'll keep calm and let myself be surprised by whatever happens on Monday," added the ex-Bayern Munich striker.

Germany will play Saudi Arabia in Leverkusen on Friday in their final warm-up match, before facing Mexico in Moscow in their opening World Cup match on June 17.

Low's men will also take on Sweden and South Korea in Group F.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 04, 2018, with the headline 'Low hits out at 'sloppy' Germany'. Print Edition | Subscribe