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Loew's German reign in balance

Xinhua in Berlin | Updated: 2018-09-06 09:24
Joachim Loew

Xinhua -- Two months after defending champion Germany's stunning group-stage exit at the World Cup, the reign of coach Joachim Loew faces fresh scrutiny - against arguably the toughest opponent possible.

Loew's squad kicks off the new Nations League competition against reigning world champion France in Munich on Thursday night.

But while Germany's fans appear to have lost confidence in their 2014 world champs, the 58-year-old Loew is optimistic about rebooting the team after its disastrous campaign at this year's finals in Russia.

In a recent survey, nearly 80 percent of Germany supporters said they felt Loew would be unable to put the team back on the road to success.

Many had expected the axing of a number of Loew's World Cup flops, but veteran Juventus midfielder Sami Khedira is the only notable casualty from the Russian debacle.

Sixteen of the summer's squad remain, with only three uncapped faces - Schalke defender Thilo Kehrer, Bayer Leverkusen midfielder Kai Havertz and Hoffenheim midfielder Nico Schulz - called up.

Perhaps signaling a switch to a more expansive style of play, however, Manchester City winger Leroy Sane, who was controversially dropped for the finals, has been recalled along with Leverkusen centerback Jonathan Tah and Freiburg striker Nils Petersen.

It seems time is of the essence for Loew, with Focus magazine recently quoting a German Football Association official as saying he could be fired by November if results don't improve.

Meanwhile, Loew's detractors continue to circle, with a number of former internationals warning that there needs to be a drastic turnaround - and fast.

"I want to see a change in attitude on the pitch, I want to see passion and pride," said former Bayern Munich stalwart and 1990 World Cup winner Lothar Matthaeus.

"I expect some clear messages from Loew in the future. These can and will be unpleasant truths for some players.

"But just as (coach) Niko Kovac moderates things at Bayern Munich, so must Loew. No rewards for past achievements. Stop the unquestioning loyalty."

Ex-Liverpool and Germany midfielder Dietmar Hamann expects Loew to be axed if he can't deliver convincing performances against France and in Sunday's friendly against Peru in Sinsheim.

Loew recently admitted he hadn't been able to motivate the team in Russia and was "close to being arrogant" for expecting his charges to dominate their opposition with a possession-based game.

He is not promising style but merely renewed determination from his squad.

"Facing France, the world champion, is the right challenge to prove our qualities," said Loew, who, not surprisingly, has stated that he will be taking the Nations League very seriously indeed.

That's an attitude his players appear to have adopted, too.

Borussia Dortmund's Marco Reus said: "It is time to show we are still very much alive and kicking," while Paris Saint-Germain's Julian Draxler bullishly stated: "We are still Germany."

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