The new year continued in much the same vein that the magnificent 2014 ended. After being showered with awards, there were further international honours for Germany’s players and their coach Joachim Löw. The national coach was named FIFA Coach of the Year. Goalkeeper Manuel Neuer came third in the vote for the world player of the year behind top strikers Ronaldo and Messi but took comfort in being chosen the world goalkeeper of the year. Neuer also made an appearance in Berlin at “Madame Tussauds” for the unveiling of his effigy in wax which stands between Hollywood stars Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp. Hansi Flick presented his master plan for the World Cup title – the workbook drawn up by the German national team’s coaching staff – to the German Football Museum due to open in Dortmund this summer. Löw was awarded the German Media Prize and made a much-acclaimed speech in which he called for a togetherness between the cultures and religions.
The last two months of the 2014 were none too dissimilar to each other. Germany’s World Cup winning eleven was voted “Team of the Year” and numerous awards hailed down on the players. All very nice said Löw for whom everything got a bit too much in November. Though being good representatives for German football is all very honourable, the coach made it clear that the most important thing remains the team’s performances. “Enough of the hype” he said “It’s time to get back onto the right stage – the pitch.”
Löw immediately set some big targets. Speaking casually, he declared, “We want to win the thing in Paris.” By “the thing is Paris”, he was alluring to the final of the 2016 European Championships in Stade de France on 10 July. And Löw went even further. He wants to ring in a new German era in international football with his team. The role model for Löw is Spain who won three titles in succession – EURO 2008, 2010 World Cup and EURO 2012. “As a coach, one wishes that we are in a position to not only repeat the success but to also dominate an epoch by winning other titles and then start concentrating on the 2018 World Cup,” explained Löw when speaking to “DFB TV”.
To get on course for Paris, they, in year 1 after Rio, first of all have to again start reproducing the kind of football they displayed in the first seven months of 2014 – a period that climaxed in the triumphal World Cup win. The first five months after becoming world champions were none too easy. They firstly lost the friendly against Argentina, a mini World Cup final rematch, 4-2 in Düsseldorf. Then the German national team promptly made its worst ever start to qualifying campaign. A hard-fought 2-1 win against Scotland was followed by a 2-0 loss in Poland, their first defeat in 19 meetings with their neighbours. It was in turn followed by a 1-1 draw against Ireland in Gelsenkirchen. It left the world’s No. 1 team lying fourth in the Group D table. A less than convincing 4-0 victory against Gibraltar in Nuremberg moved the German eleven up to second place three points behind top of the table Poland but on the same number of points as Scotland and Ireland. A 1-0 win against European champions Spain in Vigo meant they were able to finish the year on a high note.
The top two teams in the groupwill qualify automatically for EURO 2016. And the third-placed team will have the chance via the play-offs of going into the hat for one of the European Championship’s six groups in Paris on 12 December. “We’ll qualify,” said Löw. His aim is to win the group. After a friendly against the new Asia Cup winners Australia in Kaiserslautern on 25 March, things will get serious again four days later (29 March, 6.00 pm, local time).Georgia, who lost 4-0 at home in their last game against Poland, will be the opponents in Tiflis. In March 1995, the German eleven won there with two Jürgen Klinsmann goals.
On 13 June, three weeks after the final league game, they will travel to Faro in Portugal for the return game against Gibraltar as the team from the British crown colony doesn’t have a suitable stadium yet. Three days before on 10 June, Germany will take on USA in Cologne. It will be the third duel between the two coaches Löw and Klinsmann. After the summer break the national team faces two qualifying games within the space of four days when they meet Poland in Frankfurt on 4 September and then Scotland away on 7 September.
The second journey to an island against rugged opponents takes place one month later when they play Ireland on 8 October. Georgia are then the opponents in the tenth and final qualifying match in Leipzig on 11 October. The international year will end with a friendly against the Netherlands, the third-placed World Cup team, in Hanover on 17 November. After the 17 matches that the German national team played in the World Cup year, the 2015 fixture list only contains nine games.
Joachim Löw has clearly outlined how he expects the team to develop – a process that should be rewarded with EURO 2016 qualification. His side has to improve significantly in comparison with the first half of the 2014/15 season said the head coach who has announced there will be tactical and team changes. He fancies a three-man defence which is down to the dearth of top class right and left backs. The system worked in the 1-0 win against Spain. A 3-5-2 means two out-and-out strikers can be played again. And Low will undoubtedly continue to try out new players to see if they are capable of fitting into the World Champion team. The search is on not only for top class right and left backs but also top strikers. Year 1 after Rio promises, even in the absence of a major tournament, lots of excitement.
25.03.2015: Germany – Australia in Kaiserslautern (friendly)
29.03.2015: Georgia – Germany (EURO 2016 qualifying)
10.06.2015: Germany – USA in Cologne (friendly)
13.06.2015: Gibraltar - Germany (EURO 2016 qualifying)
04.09.2015: Germany – Poland in Frankfurt (EURO 2016 qualifying)
07.09.2015: Scotland – Germany (EURO 2016 qualifying)
08.10.2015: Ireland – Germany (EURO 2016 qualifying)
11.10.2015: Germany – Georgia in Leipzig (EURO 2016 qualifying)
17.11.2015: Germany – Netherlands in Hanover (friendly)