Germany coach Loew eyes Irish redemption after Poland shock
(Arkadiusz Milik 51, Sebastian Mila 88)
Joachim Loew has demanded world champions Germany respond to their shock defeat by Poland by beating the Republic of Ireland on Wednesday morning (Singapore time) to get their Euro 2016 qualifying campaign back on track.
The World Cup winners find themselves fourth in their qualifying group after being beaten 2-0 at Warsaw's National Stadium yesterday morning, suffering an historic first defeat by neighbours Poland in 19 matches.
Ajax striker Arkadiusz Milik gave the hosts the lead on 51 minutes before substitute midfielder Sebastian Mila netted a late second to inflict Germany's first defeat in a qualifier for seven years.
The Republic of Ireland's 7-0 drubbing of minnows Gibraltar in Dublin earlier yesterday morning means Poland are top of Group D, with Ireland in second, Scotland third and Germany are in an unfamiliar fourth.
Loew's Germany have the chance to bounce back when they host Martin O'Neill's Ireland in Gelsenkirchen, while Poland host Scotland.
Germany's poor finishing is of particular concern to Loew as his team enjoyed 62 per cent of possession, yet could not finish any of their 28 attempts on goal compared to just five by Poland, who scored from their first real chance.
"We are obviously disappointed, you can't really criticise the team apart from saying we were too reckless with our chances," admitted Loew.
"Our structure was good and we created a few opportunities, but Poland took their chances and scored from their first shot on goal.
"We have to focus on Tuesday now, react well against Ireland and gather our strength."
Poland fans partied into the night after their historic win.
"We are delighted, you could see that the supporters have been waiting a long time for this victory," said Poland defender Lukasz Piszczek.
"Our counter-attack game worked really well and we took our chances, that was the difference as the Germans didn't use theirs.
"It means a lot for the country, but we need to stay focused and concentrate on our next game on Tuesday."
Germany have struggled since winning the World Cup in Brazil in July.
They were humbled 4-2 by Argentina in an August friendly, then laboured to a 2-1 win over Scotland last month in their opening Euro 2016 qualifier.
Yesterday morning, they had their proud record of 33 qualifiers without defeat - dating back to a 3-0 loss by the Czech Republic in October 2007 in Munich - abruptly ended.
Germany's last away loss in a qualifying match was a 3-0 defeat by Portugal in June 2000. Warsaw's National Stadium can now be considered a bogey ground for the Germans as it was the same venue where they lost the Euro 2012 semi-final to Italy.
"The defeat was avoidable, but we didn't play badly," said Germany's stand-in captain, Manuel Neuer.
"I came out late for the first goal, it was my mistake."
With several stars injured including captain Bastian Schweinsteiger, Sami Khedira and Mesut Oezil, Loew handed Bayer Leverkusen's Karim Bellarabi a start on his debut in a new-look midfield.
But, even with retirements and injuries, Loew could still call on six of the side who started the World Cup final.
Centre back Mats Hummels said Germany must improve their finishing.
"We didn't score and the number of chances we had was a joke. That can definitely turn a game," he said.
Attacking midfielder Mario Goetze, whose extra-time goal won the World Cup final, echoed Loew's sentiments that they must beat Ireland.
"We played well and had as many chances as you'd see in four games, but it just wasn't our day," said Goetze.
"Even if we had played for another half an hour, we still wouldn't have scored.
"On Tuesday, we will pick up the three points and things will look different then."
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
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.