Why it's too early to write off Germany

Joachim Low's men have failed to convince in France thus far but they have the points in the bank to book their place in the knockout rounds; they cannot be written off


Germany need not panic just yet. Joachim Low's men struggled throughout their group matches against Ukraine and Poland, with the offensive quartet performing poorly and the defence struggling to deal with the attacking threats posed by their opponents.

But it means nothing. It is far too early to write this Germany team off. It must not be forgotten that Joachim Low's men, the current world champions, did not enjoy a dominant World Cup in 2014. The games against Ghana, a 2-2 draw, the USA, a narrow 1-0 victory, Algeria, a 2-1 win after extra time, and the 1-0 win over France were all remarkably tight.

However, pessimism has taken hold in Germany. Fans and experts have discussed the lack of a leader within Low's squad; a discussion which is both mischievous and absurd. The same discussion took hold in Brazil two years ago, and what happened?

Germany have a number of leaders, but the image of those leaders has changed. Jerome Boateng is a prime example of a modern leader. He spoke clearly and eloquently as he explained that Germany simply must improve or risk an early exit from the tournament. His words are important and he's right, Germany have no option but to get better.

However, Low's decision to continue placing his faith in stars such as Mario Gotze, Julian Draxler, Thomas Muller and Mesut Ozil, with all four performing poorly in the 2-0 win over Ukraine, can also be discussed. But discrediting Low is nonsense. The manager trusted the personnel he chose to play in the starting XI prior to the tournament and hoped for better results.

Those did not come, and guaranteed starting spots no longer exist, meaning changes are inevitable ahead of Tuesday's clash with Northern Ireland.

It cannot be ignored that Muller has openly talked of his desire for Germany to have players like Bayern Munich - attackers who can repeatedly emerge victorious in one-on-one situations.

"We have to change the education that we again have players who can go with pace through one-on-one situation. Spain have players like this. It's an important factor," Low said in his media conference on Saturday.

But despite the injury to Borussia Dortmund star Marco Reus, Low chose not to call up Julian Brandt - the Bayer Leverkusen forward who emerged as Germany's most in-form winger in the final three months of the season - or his team-mate Karim Bellarabi. That was a significant mistake.

Furthermore Leroy Sane, the exceptional Schalke youngster who is capable of beating as many as four players on his finest day, has been sitting on the bench for 180 minutes.

Germany need Low to make changes, and the side is also in need of improvements. But with four points in the bank they are poised to qualify for the knockout stages of the competition ahead of their clash with Michael O'Neill's men regardless of their performances. Germany need not panic just yet.

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