Another setback for world champs Germany
(Toni Kroos 71)
REPUBLIC OF IRELAND 1
(John O'Shea 90+4)
They have barely warmed the seat.
Now, they are finding the throne perhaps a little too hot for their liking.
Just three months after their triumph at Brazil 2014, world champions Germany are suddenly scrambling to find the cure for a hangover which is threatening to escalate into a full-blown disaster.
In front of 50,000 home fans in Gelsenkirchen yesterday morning (Singapore time), they fell flat on their faces, drawing 1-1 with modest Republic of Ireland despite taking the lead.
The bewildered faces of coach and players at the final whistle suggest that the full brunt of a backlash may not be far away.
Just last Saturday, they were downed 2-0 by Poland, a team who had never beaten the Germans before.
So, three matches into their Euro 2016 qualifiers, the World Cup winners sit third in Group D, level with Scotland and three points behind both Poland and Ireland.
Their record of one win, one draw and one loss represents their worst start to a qualifying campaign.
Germany had Ireland by the scruff of the neck, but lacked the incision that reaped them such bountiful rewards in Brazil.
The bright start, which saw fullback Erik Durm rock the crossbar with a fierce long-range drive, turned out to be a false dawn.
Joachim Loew's men had the lion's share of possession, but were largely restricted to efforts from distance.
Indeed, Toni Kroos' 71st-minute goal was a beauty from outside the box. But gone was the dynamism and verve from their play in the final third of the field.
LACK CUTTING EDGE
John O'Shea's strike, four minutes into stoppage time, might not have been an equaliser which the Irish richly deserved, but it wasn't exactly one that no one saw coming either.
It was clear that Germany were lacking the cutting edge that they showed in abundance during their rise to the top.
Some would note that the side that started against Ireland lacked strong characters like Philipp Lahm, Miroslav Klose, Per Mertesacker, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Sami Khedira, either through injury or retirement.
But with Loew still able to field players such as Manuel Neuer, Mats Hummels, Julian Draxler, Mario Goetze, Kroos and Thomas Mueller in his first 11, it would be silly to suggest that the team were severely weakened.
Germany are still streets ahead of Ireland in terms of quality.
Ireland coach Martin O'Neill's starters consisted of one player playing in the US, two from England's second tier, and eight from teams in the bottom half of the English Premier League.
Germany, though, were not the only European powerhouses to suffer during this international week.
Also Greece, the only representatives from their group to have qualified for 2014 Brazil, are second-from-bottom in their table after a 1-1 draw with Finland and a 2-0 defeat by Northern Ireland.
Spain, holders of the continental crown, lost 2-1 to unfancied Slovakia.
Holland, placed third at the recent World Cup, fell 2-0 to Iceland and are now behind them and Czech Republic in the group standings.
What makes Germany's demise stand out, however, is the timing.
This is supposed to be a new era in football's world order, one ruled by Die Mannschaft after the Spaniards meekly vacated their throne.
They have momentum, youth, talent, depth and, in fact, just about everything on their side.
What they are finding out now is that the World Cup winners' tag can be a big burden.
They are now everyone's favourite team to beat.
There may be yet more twists and turns in their road to France.
High-flying Poland made to fight for valuable point
Poland's fairytale triumph over Germany was quickly overtaken by a touch of anti-climax in Warsaw yesterday morning (Singapore time) as they found themselves held to a 2-2 draw by Scotland in a thrilling Euro 2016 qualifier.
A fevered crowd had expected more of the same from their new heroes in the National Stadium following their historic 2-0 win over the world champions, but had to watch them come from behind in the Group D encounter to earn a point with a 76th-minute goal from Arkadiusz Milik.
The home team poured forward in the dying minutes and Kamil Grosicki came closest to earning another famous win for the hosts when he hit the post.
Yet Scotland, who had won a friendly in this stadium in March, again looked like a rejuvenated side under Gordon Strachan's stewardship as they rebounded from the early setback of Krzysztof Maczynski's 11th-minute goal.
Seven minutes later, Shaun Maloney equalised after a superb Scottish move and Steven Naismith gave them a glimpse of glory when he provided a neat sliding finish to James Morrison's free-kick after 57 minutes.
The come-from-behind draw left Poland coach a satisfied man. He said: "We are happy with a point considering we were one goal down. It is good that we managed to recover.
"The last 30 minutes looked very good and I regret that time ran out so fast and we did not manage to score a winner. The European qualifiers have just started and we are in a very tough group.
"We have launched our campaign for France very well. The only thing I can complain about are the mistakes in our defence which led to easy goals for Scotland. However, the team spirit is growing now." - Reuters.