Harder challenges await Germany

Sinsheim, Germany (dpa) – Germany coach Joachim Loew declared himself pleased with the week’s work which brought a goalless draw with world champions France and friendly win over Peru – but tougher challenges lie just around the corner.

Sunday’s 2-1 friendly victory over the South Americans in Sinsheim was Germany’s first win since exiting the World Cup at the group stage in summer. Following on from a solid, if not spectacular, home draw with the French in the Nations League opener, a foundation has been laid to move forward.

“We are under observation,” Loew said. “It still needs some good performances for the fans to fully identify with the team again.

“But he have shown that we are willing to do that. We have reached the goal this week.”

Even critics of the team would struggle to disagree with that but, as Loew himself acknowledges, these two games do not repair the damage done in Russia.

Germany offered little going forward against France and though ultimately triumphant against Peru, Nico Schulz’s late winner was decidedly fortunate.

France defeated the Netherlands on Sunday to top Nations League Group A1. Next month, Germany face a double-header of away fixtures in Amsterdam on October 13 and the return against France three days later.

Those games will put Loew alone at the top of the list of German games coach having drawn level with 1954 World Cup winning boss Sepp Herberger on 167 against Peru.

But there is little margin for error in the three-team Nations League group which sees the bottom nation relegated after four games – a humiliation which is unthinkable for Loew after the World Cup debacle.

“I find the Nations League really good because it’s a competition at a high level,” he said. “We have two away games [coming up]. In the current phase it is important that the team continues in this way with tactics and attitude.”

Loew confirmed that Joshua Kimmich, who usually plays full back for Bayern Munich, would keep his spot as a holding midfielder in October. The defence behind him is more of a question mark.

Matthias Ginter, a centre back by trade, did well on the right hand side while Jerome Boateng and Mats Hummels, if fit, seem odds on to remain in the middle.

The left flank is a concern with Schulz’s debut goal not fully atoning for an error which helped Peru open the scoring in the first half, even if Loew insisted he “made a really good impression on me in training.”

Who should lead the line in attack is another debate with the country that once boasted strikers such as Gerd Mueller and Miroslav Klose now lacking a clear number nine.

Germany were more open against Peru than against France and created chances, even if they were more exposed on the break as a result.

But faster-paced football, balancing risk and reward, is desired after the possession-obsessed World Cup exit.

“Overall I think it was a good game, where we played well and made a number of chances,” said midfielder Julian Brandt, who equalized Luis Advincula’s opener.

“Unfortunately we were only able to take two of those, and conceded a soft goal. The team is in good shape at the moment, we just need to fine-tune a few parts of our game.”

Forward Marco Reus – a villain in missing some of the chances created – agreed but felt positive going into the crunch fixtures against the Netherlands and France.

“I believe that we’ve shown in these two games that we’ve taken a step in the right direction,” he said. “We need to win the next few games to build up our confidence, even if they are scrappy wins like the one today.”

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