We're as good as France: Low

France's midfielder Blaise Matuidi going to ground in the box under a challenge from Germany defender Mats Hummels, which led to a penalty awarded to the hosts. Antoine Griezmann's conversion from the spot gave the world champions a 2-1 win in Paris
France's midfielder Blaise Matuidi going to ground in the box under a challenge from Germany defender Mats Hummels, which led to a penalty awarded to the hosts. Antoine Griezmann's conversion from the spot gave the world champions a 2-1 win in Paris on Tuesday.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Under-pressure Germany coach stays defiant despite another loss, rues 'totally unjust penalty'

PARIS • It was only over four years ago when Germany gave powerhouses Brazil a 7-1 footballing lesson in the South Americans' own backyard en route to claiming their fourth World Cup.

But, after a disastrous campaign in Russia this summer when they finished bottom of their group, the Germans' glory days of 2014 were consigned further into history as they continued their poor run in the Nations League on Tuesday.

Coach Joachim Low was defiant in praising his side's display in the 2-1 defeat by world champions France, lamenting a "totally unjust penalty" given to the hosts.

"I'm disappointed with the result, although I must say the defeat is different to Saturday's," he said.

The 58-year-old insisted that he was "very pleased" with the improvement from their 3-0 loss in the Netherlands last Saturday.

"I'm very pleased with the performance. I think we were on an even level with what is probably the best team in the world," said Low.

"France has a lot of individual quality and, if you're not careful, you'll get punished straight away."

  • GERMANY'S SLIDE IN NUMBERS

  • 6

    Defeats the Germans have suffered in a calendar year for the first time.

    2000

    The last time Germany lost consecutive competitive matches was at Euro 2000.

    9%

    Die Mannschaft have managed just one clean sheet in 11 matches this year.

Antoine Griezmann hit a second-half brace, including a winner from the spot, as France recovered from falling behind to a Toni Kroos penalty to inflict a second defeat on Germany in the competition.

The result ended Germany's chances of making it to the Nations League knockout stage, leaving them needing to beat the Dutch in their final League A, Group 1 game next month to avoid relegation.

It also increased the pressure on Low, just five months after he signed a four-year contract extension before their woeful World Cup campaign. Headlines in German newspapers this week included the words "Spineless" and "Abysmal", amid growing calls to sack the World Cup-winning coach.

A first defeat by the neighbouring Dutch in 16 years prompted Low to make five changes against France, as he injected pace into his attack with the inclusion of Leroy Sane and Serge Gnabry.

Germany's bright start was rewarded after 14 minutes. Kroos converted a penalty awarded after a sliding Presnel Kimpembe handled Sane's cross. But the youthful front line was unable to add to their tally.

"The negative point is the converting of our chances. We were unable to put the ball in the goal," added Low. "I think we deserved to win because we were the best team but that's not how things work. If we'd been able to score a second, we could have won the match."

He was particularly unhappy with referee Milorad Mazic's decision to award France a spot kick in the 80th minute when Blaise Matuidi went to ground after tangling with Mats Hummels.

"The penalty was unjust," he said. "I've watched it back on the replay. Mats didn't touch Matuidi. He stepped on Mats' foot and slipped."

France can finish top of their three-team group with a point against the Dutch in Rotterdam next month.

"It's a good thing in terms of our aim of finishing top of the group but we were up against a very good German side today," coach Didier Deschamps said. "But this is the difference between a France team with a lot of confidence and a team like Germany which lacks some confidence and is maybe not as efficient.

"The best vitamin is victory and tonight we had a difficult game and won against a difficult team."

Griezmann admitted "calm" exchanges at half-time allowed them to regain their rhythm after falling behind to Kroos' opener.

"We played poorly in the first half, so we had to calmly speak a bit in the dressing room and change things tactically," he said.

"We became world champions by working for each other and that's the only way you will win matches."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 18, 2018, with the headline 'We're as good as France: Low'. Print Edition | Subscribe