MOSCOW: Change is rarely innate. As in life so in sports, it is mostly forced upon by circumstances, sometimes dictated by a debacle.
ALSO READ: Mein Gott! End of the World is Nigh!
Germany will now face the ‘Revo-Loewtion.’ It could have come earlier, after their fourth World Cup triumph at the Maracana in 2014 but Joachim Loew, like many of his ilk, failed to pre-empt the inevitable.
The first-round exit after soul crushing reversals – against Mexico and South Korea – is a taint on the otherwise glorious German pennant. The world and the German maps have been redrawn several times since the World Cup in France in 1938 when the swastika-bearing Germans last made a quick exit.
Now, experts and soothsayers have ganged up in rabble rousing over Manuel Nueur’s charge down the pitch on Wednesday, which led to Ju Se-Jung’s powerful clearance towards the unguarded German citadel.
It typified a rare absence of reason in the German method, an aberration in a nation’s structure where philosophers enjoy more accolades than poets. Termites were eating into that structure and Loew was oblivious to it. The barn door needed a kick. South Korea provided that and the structure came crashing down in Russia.
ALSO READ: German sunset that was on the horizon
Picking Neuer ahead of Marc-Andre ter Stegen is one of Loew’s decisions that will come under scrutiny. Leroy Sane’s absence from the touring party has already given loads of fodder to the domestic press. When the Mexicans played it tight at the back, Loew needed someone like the pacy Manchester City winger to stretch them on the flanks and create openings with his dribbling skills.
Since the retirement of Phillipe Lahm and Bastian Schweinsteiger, the leaders behind the success of 2014, the positions could not be adequately filled up by Loew. A proven menace with Bayern Munich, Kimmich found it difficult to replicate his club form as the flanks were far better guarded in Russia. Germany’s chief attacking option thus got nullified.
Sami Khedira, Mesut Ozil, Toni Kroos, Marco Reus and Julian Draxler may have reaped huge rewards for their clubs but in the German shirt they looked like shares with dipping prices. Lacking in pace and energy, they got caught in the web of stringent defensive formations.
The German central defence of Jerome Boetang and Matts Hummels, too, had seen better days. Though Boetang was serving suspension against Korea, Nilas Sule’s presence alongside Hummels didn’t command respect in the ranks of the sprightly Asians.
Politics is the last baggage that one should carry in a campaign to defend the World Cup. Ozil and Ilkay Gundogan had forgotten the tenet and their controversial photo-op with Turkish president Tayyip Erdogan had led to a lot of noise, disturbing the composure needed for preparation. Former German international Steffan Effenberg called for their heads, Loew didn’t listen.
Mario Basler, a member of the team that won the Euro 96, has been extremely critical of Ozil and the Arsenal midfielder’s visible sense of detachment. “He has the body language of a dead frog,” the former German No. 10 had said.
Relying on reputation of Thomas Mueller, Mario Gomez and Sandro Wagner (unused), Loew came to the World Cup without a proven goal scorer. The decision came back to bite him. Mueller failed to add to his 10 goals and Gomez’s bits-and-parts role hardly created a flutter.
Spain coach Vicente Del Bosque got caught in a similar trap in 2014, as did Brazil’s Carlos Alberto Perreira in 2006. Carrying the burden of sporting insurance, Loew had to pay a huge dividend.
Zidane’s decision to leave Real Madrid, leaving a note prescribing change, may have forced Los Blancos to act without reason during the World Cup. Even Zidane’s self-effacing departure didn’t make Loew read the writing on the wall. In Berlin, a putsch is on the cards.