Football

Germany's gaps

HEADS UP: Germany’s Lukas Podolski (right) and Poland’s Robert Lewandowski (left) seem in harmony, but only one stood tall in the end. PHOTO: AFP

DEFENSIVE WOES

In Brazil, Germany's defence was the key to success as the team conceded only four goals - like their opponents in the final, Argentina.

But Philipp Lahm has retired and Mats Hummels is not fully fit after injury and Loew is searching for his ideal post World Cup defensive line-up.

As Loew is sticking to a four-man back line, he is desperately looking for suitable right- and left-sided defenders.

After Sebastian Rudy played on the right against Scotland in the first Euro 2016 qualifier, Loew fielded Antonio Ruediger on the right and Erik Durm on the left against Poland.

A backline of three does not seem a sensible option for the German team despite it becoming ever more popular in modern football.

German champions Bayern Munich use a three-man defensive line-up.

But Loew fears the risky option as his defenders would have to face too many one-on-one situations.

Tall defenders (many of the German defenders like Hummels and Boateng are tall) could face problems against quick strikers.

The defeat by Poland again showed the magnitude of the German team's problems when they are hit by a counter-attack.

Without appropriate defenders for the right or left, the German game lacked speed down the flanks.

In order to dominate opponents parking the bus, it is vital to have pace on the wings.

What makes Loews problems bigger is the fact that two key players of his World Cup winning team - goalkeeper Manuel Neuer and Boateng - didn't do well when Poland scored their goals.

Loew said after the defeat that he will not find many candidates in the German Bundesliga to solve his problems on the left and right.

"We have to find a solution," Loew said.

"Our biggest problem in Warsaw was that we did not take our chances. In parts, it looked like a power-play. Poland were waiting to counter-attack as we were dominating the game."

MISSING KEY PLAYERS

Loew had to go into the tough Poland game without his leaders Bastian Schweinsteiger (Bayern Munich), Sami Khedira (Real Madrid), Mesut Oezil (Arsenal) and Marco Reus (Borussia Dortmund).

But the defeat was a big surprise as Germany were on top in many of the game's statistics. Germany had 28 shots on target compared to Poland's five and they also dominated in possession - 62 per cent to 38 per cent.

Germany still have problems playing Thomas Mueller as a "false No. 9" and, with Mario Gomez injured and striker Miroslav Klose retired, the World Champions struggled to change things up. - Wire Services.