Despite having led, Germany lost 4-2 to the Netherlands in their European qualifier in Hamburg on Friday night. Joachim Löw spoke to us about reasons, significance and consequences.
Question: Mr Löw, what were the main reasons behind the first defeat of Germany’s European qualifying campaign against the Netherlands?
Joachim Löw: Obviously we are disappointed about the result, but if we’re being honest it was a fair result. Netherlands were the better team, and we were below par for the entire game. We lost the ball a lot and our link-up play often didn’t come off so well. We were losing the ball up front and lots of passes were going all the way back to Manuel Neuer.
Question: Your changes at 1-1 didn’t give us the push you were hoping for – quite the opposite.
Löw: That is true. At this stage in the game I thought it was important for us to get a bit more comfortable in possession with Ilkay Gündogan and Kai Havertz. Going forward we couldn’t keep the ball. Kai, who can usually penetrate from midfield, and Ilkay, who has a lot of composure – that was the plan. Things didn’t improve for us, but not just because of these substitutions.
Question: What significance does this defeat bear for the qualifying campaign?
Löw: It means we have to win the game in Northern Ireland. We need to approach the game with the attitude that we will leave the pitch as winners. Had we won today, we’d be travelling to Northern Ireland with the same attitude.
Question: How many tactical and personnel changes will you need to make there?
Löw: We’ll have to wait and see who plays and who doesn’t, but obviously we’ll need to change our tactics against Northern Ireland. They play a completely different type of football to the Netherlands – they are incredibly physical, solid and play lots of long balls. They will sit deeper, which means we’ll have less room up front. We have to prepare ourselves for this. We need to find tactical solutions for this game.
Question: How does a defeat like this affect your team’s development process?
Löw: The younger players might need motivating a little, to give them the feeling that they can do it – that they are better than that. On Monday, I’m certain we will respond well.
Question: Is the quality at the back good enough for these bigger challenges?
Löw: We’re not lacking any quality – the players are proving this week in week out, but young players like Niklas Süle and Jonathan Tah naturally still have some things to learn.
Question: In hindsight, should you have played with a back four in order to get forward more from midfield positions.
Löw: No, I would do the same thing again. We intended for Nico Schulz and Lukas Klostermann to press high down the wing. We had our weaknesses out there, but it wasn’t a result of the tactical set-up, it was just a case of simple mistakes.