And they can still win: The German national team has finally got a three in the Nations League. In the end, however, it was a tight spot against severely weakened Ukrainians.
In the seventh attempt, the German national team finally achieved the long-awaited first victory in the Nations League. The completely renewed DFB team of five Munich triple winners defied the corona vortex in the hotspot Kiev, but even had to tremble in the 2: 1 (1: 0) against the heavily weakened Ukraine.
Matthias Ginter (20th) and Leon Goretzka (49th) gave Joachim Löw a little more calm with the first three in 326 days on the way to the EM. Goretzka benefited from a hair-raising mistake by Ukrainian goalkeeper Georgij Buschtschan on his goal. The subsequent goal from Ruslan Malinowski’s penalty (76th) after an unnecessary foul by Niklas Süle was followed by a hectic final phase.
17,573 spectators in Kiev
In front of 17,573 spectators in the Olympic Stadium, the German team could not completely convince. Löw also saw some of the deficiencies that have already been mentioned many times in his currently supposedly best team. But the corona-weakened Ukraine could not punish this any harder. And so Löw is planning the next Nations League success on Tuesday in Cologne against Switzerland.
In the run-up, a certain unrest had spread around the DFB selection; not only because of the lack of results. Because Löw brusquely rejected the latest criticism of his team philosophy in Kiev (“I don’t care!”), He was accused of arrogance. The national coach replied before kick-off: “Of course I’m reflective.” Unlike the critics, he sees “the big picture”.
Rüdiger’s strong preparation
And yet: the pressure was high. “This is a day where you have to deliver,” said ARD expert Bastian Schweinsteiger. Löw therefore trusted his regular staff. In addition to captain Manuel Neuer from Munich, midfield boss Toni Kroos as well as Lukas Klostermann and Marcel Halstenberg from Leipzig came back. Only Antonio Rüdiger and Julian Draxler, who represented the ailing Timo Werner, remained in the team after the disappointing 3: 3 in the test against Turkey.
Löw wanted to see “game control” – over 90 minutes. Or, as Neuer put it: “We have to get to a point where we play men’s football, get ripped off.” But especially in the first half, the German game was characterized by unnecessary ball losses and far too static. Only a single action by the advanced Rüdiger, who served goal scorer Ginter, broke the spell.
Substitute weakened Ukrainians
Serge Gnabry (25th / 35th) as well as Joshua Kimmich (31st) and Kroos (43rd) could have increased before the break. But the chances did not hide the fact that the DFB-Elf continued to struggle. The game in depth demanded by Löw hardly took place at all. Ukraine was missing 14 (!) Professionals due to injuries and positive corona tests. An 18-year-old and a 21-year-old defended in the defense center. But the German team lacked the pace, especially on the outside.
“I made too many simple mistakes”, complained Schweinsteiger at the break – and criticized Löw’s tactics: The five-man chain was the wrong approach because it would mean missing a player in midfield. In fact, Kroos and Co. encountered an opposing majority more often.
But the negligence had no consequences because the unfortunate goalkeeper Buschtschan dropped the ball on Goretzka’s head after a Klostermann cross. Draxler missed the big chance for the preliminary decision (51st), Klostermann (57th) and Gnabry (82nd) also failed.