Low upbeat about Germans' chances

Mexico's Hector Herrera (left) kept a close eye on Germany's Mesut Ozil on Sunday. The Mexicans upset the defending champions 1-0.
Mexico's Hector Herrera (left) kept a close eye on Germany's Mesut Ozil on Sunday. The Mexicans upset the defending champions 1-0.PHOTO: REUTERS

MOSCOW • Mexicans jumping in jubilation on Sunday shook the ground hard enough to set off earthquake detectors en route to their team's shock 1-0 victory over defending champions Germany.

But Die Mannschaft coach Joachim Low vowed that his side will reach the knockout stage after their catastrophic start on Sunday.

Germany were a shadow of their all-conquering selves with the Mexicans springing a trap and the 2014 winners were caught on the break throughout the game.

The counter-attack that counted most saw Hirving Lozano score in the 35th minute, prompting what the Institute of Geological and Atmospheric Investigations called an "artificial" quake in Mexico.

"We will draw our lessons from this defeat and will do it better next time," Low said ahead of their remaining Group F matches against Sweden and South Korea.

Yet the 58-year-old is in the crosshairs after sticking with a lacklustre Mesut Ozil instead of speedy in-form winger Marco Reus.

Over-run and out of ideas, the Germans were literally all over the place at times. Only centre-back Jerome Boateng stayed in defence; right-back Joshua Kimmich was apparently playing as a striker; the midfield lost all shape.

"It is an unusual situation for us but one we must accept. We did not play our usual offensive and passing game," Low added. "The team have enough experience to deal with it and we will rise again."

The Germans have a stellar tournament record under Low, having reached at least the semi-finals in every World Cup or Euro tournament since he took over in 2006.

They have also not been eliminated at a World Cup group stage since 1938 when the tournament had a different and smaller format.

When it was pointed out that three of the last four holders suffered group-stage exits, Low replied: "We will qualify for the next round."

That might depend on Sweden and South Korea's ability to replicate the blueprint Mexico coach Juan Carlos Osorio worked on for six months. He started with two bolts of lightning on the wing, including Lozano. He deployed Sevilla's Miguel Layun as an attack-minded midfielder, tasking him with kick-starting the rapid counter-attacks he felt could expose Germany's defence, that was pushed further forward than Osorio believed was wise.

He asked Carlos Vela to drop a little deeper than normal, to prevent Germany midfielders Sami Khedira and Toni Kroos from settling into a rhythm.

"We try to give joy," said Osorio. "Our motto was play with the love of winning and not the fear of losing."

REUTERS, NYTIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 19, 2018, with the headline 'Low upbeat about Germans' chances'. Print Edition | Subscribe