Wednesday March 31, 2021
Werner forgives free in front of the gate
DFB-Elf embarrassed themselves against North Macedonia
Hardly any pressure, missed chances, conceding a late goal: The German national soccer team loses against North Macedonia because they again left many opportunities in the first half. After that, the DFB team couldn’t get through and embarrassed themselves in Jogi Löw’s last World Cup qualifying game.
Joachim Loew moaned and cursed. Another embarrassing bankruptcy has nipped the tender optimism in the German national team in the bud. In the completely surprising 1: 2 (0: 1) in the last EURO casting against the blatant underdog North Macedonia, the outgoing national coach conceded a defeat in the World Cup qualification for the first time – in his 33rd and last game. His successor is under immediate pressure despite the two opening wins in September.
“That mustn’t happen,” said substitute captain İlkay Gündoğan on RTL: “It felt like North Macedonia was twice in front of our goal and scored twice, it was too easy.” North Macedonia striker oldie Goran Pandev (45 + 1) shocked Löw and his team in the last international match before the EM nomination at the end of May. After a foul on Leroy Sané, Gündoğan equalized with a penalty (63.). But Eljif Elmas (85th) countered for the number 65 in the world. Before that, Timo Werner had missed the great opportunity to take the lead (80th). In a handball by Emre Can (76th) in their own penalty area, the DFB team was also very lucky.
An encouragement for Löw’s last mission at the EM in the summer looks very different. After that, on the now more arduous route to Qatar 2022, on September 5, there will be a duel with the new front runner in Group J, Armenia. Before the game in Duisburg, the DFB-Elf convinced with another message for human rights: The professionals gathered behind a banner with the black, red and gold inscription “Wir für 30” – a renewed reference to the 30 articles of the human rights declaration of the United Nations . DFB President Fritz Keller applauded in the stands.
“Speed, speed!” – but nothing happened
But the good mood was quickly gone. From the RTL studio, expert Uli Hoeneß Löw asked his “boys” to tell his “boys” after the usury of chances in Romania (1-0) that “the winter program in the Krone circus is over and it’s about goals – not stunts”. That would not have been the worst remedy against poisonous North Macedonians. Leon Goretzka hit the crossbar early on (9th), but the opponent soon adjusted well to the right-wing German game. Sané should swirl over this side, Serge Gnabry and Kai Havertz usually acted centrally. Robin Gosens, next to goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen, the second new member of the team, was left on his own.
That was not the right playing system against the massive 5-3-2 of the guests. There was also a lack of sparkling ideas and opening runs into the depths, this time Havertz clearly fell off. The switching moments were not played out consistently enough, there was no getting through the middle. Good chances were rare, Gnabry (27th and 31st) missed two more. North Macedonia was getting cheekier by the minute, and Neuer representative Ter Stegen warned loudly about Pandev: “Be careful with the 10!” He was still there for a tricky free kick from Ezgjan Alioski (40th). But when the captain of the “red lions” appeared completely free in front of him, Ter Stegen was defeated.
The DFB-Elf looked “tired” to Hoeneß, after the break Löw vehemently demanded “Speed, speed!” – and reacted after another tenacious ten minutes with a double change: Werner and Amin Younes came in for Havertz and Gosens. But it was Sané who pulled the 911 out single-handedly. In the hectic final phase, Löw drove his team on again and again. But they hardly got behind the tightly staggered chain of North Macedonians, and penalty area scenes were also rare.