Bring on Leroy, oh wait, he's back home…

Amol Gokhale
Monday, 18 June 2018

Germany coach Joachim Loew assures that they will advance to next round despite opening defeat

MOSCOW: Leroy Sane, PFA young player of the year, 10 goals and 15 assists for Manchester City, a vital cog in Pep Guardiola's side.

He would have been a perfect answer. Perfect dose to leggy defending champions. He would have provided the necessary pace for ‘Die Mannschaft’ to overcome a Mexican counter-attacking wave.

As the clock went past an hour mark, German fans, growing impatient, took to Twitter seeking respite, looking to salvage pride, but were only trolled and mocked mercilessly.

"#Worldcup #GER ...under pressure to score...bring on #LeroySane @LeroySane19 ...oh no wait!! Now that decision is looking truly crazy! #Talent," read one tweet.

"Germany need to bring some pace on the wings to get behind Mexico. I’d get @LeroySane19 on, oh wait........... #MEXGER #WorldCup18," the same sentiment was echoed by another.

“Germany will be much better when they bring on Leroy Sane in the second half,” read the third one and the list goes on.

As Germany went onto become the third successive champions to suffer a loss in their opening match of the World Cup, Sane, who rooted for his team, must be wondering if his blistering pace could have made the difference.

Joachim Loew must be wondering whether his decision to leave the pacy winger back at home in favour of Julian Brandt would come to bite him back.

The plan Mexico coach Juan Carlos Osorio devised for his his team against overwhelmingly favourite World Champions Germany was executed to the perfection.

Taking a cue from Germany's laggard show in their pre-World Cup friendlies, he put two pacy wingers - Hirving Lozano and Miguel Layun on the flanks.

The trap was set, knowing that in an attempt to exert more control German midfield duo of Toni Kroos and Sami Khedira would play high up the field, leaving vast pace in between midfield and defence.

That is what exactly happened, every time Mexican back-line cleared the ball, they fed to either these two wingers or out and out strikers Javier Hernandez.

As 'El Tri' broke forward swiftly, it left a gaping hole in the heart of German defence, leaving Mats Hummels and Jerome Boateng to deal with more than one man at a time.

The counter-attacking approach paid rich dividends, as Chicharito latched onto a loose ball after Khedira lost the possession and fed Lozano, who cut back inside and rifled a shot past Manuel Neuer at the near post from 12-yards out.

In the second half, had Mexico been little more clinical, the scoreline could have easily resembled the 5-1 defeat of 2010 champions Spain at the hand of the Netherlands in their opener in 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil.

Germany threw everything at Mexico with attacking changes, but what they lacked was real pace on the flanks to hurt the Mexican backline, the exact same thing Mexico did well.

In the post-match press conference, the 58-year German coach insisted that there is no need to panic, but his side must improve after they played 'very badly' in the first half and accepted that they might have to face Brazil in the Round of 16

“In the first half, we played very badly. We were not able to impose our usual way of playing. But we will not just break apart now and become headless and do something completely different. There is no need to break out in a panic just because we have lost a match,” Loew said.

The coach, who recently signed a contract extension, that would see him lead the side till 2022, also expressed that his side was jinxed on Sunday.

"We had a couple of shots on goal but somehow it seemed jinxed, the ball wouldn't go in and sometimes we didn't keep our cool with our finishing. Tomorrow we have to look forward and put this behind us," he said.

He also assured the media in his post-match conference that his team won't suffer the same fate as Italy or Spain but it is something that they are not used to.

"It's disappointing to have lost the first match. It's a situation we're not used to at all. In many previous tournaments, we've always won the first match but we have to accept it. There can always be obstacles to overcome and we need to draw conclusions and be much better in the next match," he signed off.

“Our cover was often not good and we were left many times with just Jerome (Boateng) and myself in the back. We were warned (in the warm-up games). We played exactly like we did against Saudi Arabia (when Germany won 2-1) only against a better opponent. That’s why the first half was like it was and Mexico obviously deserved to win it.
- Mats Hummels, (Germany defender)

“We are now under pressure, we have to get six points from the next games. Overall we had our chances but did not score. We just lost the ball up front far too easily, and Mexico had always two or three people up front whom we failed to block efficiently.”
- Toni Kroos (Germany midfielder)

"I don't know if it's the biggest win in (Mexico's) history but doubtless it is one of the biggest for sure. It's great to start on the right foot when you're playing against the world champions. I think it's definitely the best goal I've ever scored in my life, we all dream of playing in the World Cup."
- Hirving Lozano (man-of-the-match)

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