By Karolos Grohmann
World champions Germany will be desperate to bounce back with home win over Ireland next week to recover from a shock 2-0 defeat to Poland in their Euro 2016 qualifier on Saturday but in order to achieve that, they need to start scoring goals.
The Germans wasted a plethora of golden opportunities in Warsaw before slumping to their first ever loss to Poland, a stunning defeat that sent them tumbling down to third spot in qualifying Group D.
Failing to score is not a new problem for Germany, who encountered the issue as recently as this summer’s World Cup with coach Joachim Loew switching his formation midway through the tournament to promote Miroslav Klose as a lone striker.
The results were devastating for their opponents as the Germans raced to a fourth World Cup triumph.
But Klose cannot add to his record goal tally for Germany, having retired after the World Cup, and Loew has to figure out how his team can make their total domination around the rest of the pitch count in front of goal.
“We have to look ahead to Tuesday and Ireland and make sure we show a good reaction,” said Loew, who only had six players in his line-up from the side that started the World Cup final in July.
“We only played on one goal but could not score,” he said.
It would be far too premature to draw any conclusions on the state of the new German team given the large number of injury absences, including Bastian Schweinsteiger, Mesut Ozil and Marco Reus to name but a few.
The retirements of former captain Philipp Lahm, Klose and Per Mertesacker have also robbed the team of much-needed experience with 25-year-old Thomas Mueller being the most-capped player in the starting line-up on Saturday.
Loew started without an out-and-out striker on Saturday and with attacking midfielder Mueller up front. It was a similar situation in the early stages of the World Cup.
Newcomer Karim Bellarabi added plenty of pace down the flanks but failed to score from several good chances he carved out for himself. Mario Goetze, who also plays as an occasional forward, was equally as ineffective.
With only one natural forward, Borussia Moenchengladbach’s Max Kruse, in the squad but on the bench on Saturday, Loew will have to come up with a more effective plan if they are to beat Ireland in Gelsenkirchen.
“We just failed to score and given the amount of chances we had it was a joke,” Germany defender Mats Hummels lamented.
With three points from two qualifiers so far, Germany are well aware this is a long campaign and a maiden defeat to Poland, however damaging to their pride, is not a total disaster.
“It was just not our day,” Goetze said. “On Tuesday, we will win, get the three points and the table will look a lot different.”
Euro 2016 qualifying results from Saturday, October 11:
Poland 2-0 Germany
Northern Ireland 2-0 Faroe Islands
Albania 1-1 Denmark
Republic of Ireland 7-0 Gibraltar
Scotland 1-0 Georgia
Romania 1-1 Hungary
Armenia 1- Serbia