‘A downward spiral that began in 2016’: German media react to England’s win

For England, Tuesday’s 2-0 win ended a 55-year jinx against a side they had repeatedly failed to edge past in the knockout rounds of major tournaments. But for Germany, too, the defeat at Wembley marked the end of an era.

“The Euros were meant to be a dignified send-off for national coach Joachim Löw,” said Boris Büchler in a comment for broadcaster ZDF. In his first 10 years in charge of Germany’s national team, Löw had taken his sides at least to the semi-final of every tournament they participated in. In 2014, he came home from Rio de Janeiro with the World Cup.

Yet the dignified send-off was not to be, wrote Büchler. “Instead, the exit in the last 16 is the logical consequence of a downward spiral that began in 2016.”

For Süddeutsche Zeitung, the nature of Germany’s defeat had an uncomfortably familiar feel. “Yes, of course there were two historic outliers, the World Cup victory in 2014 and the group-stage disaster of 2018 – but all of Löw’s other tournaments followed the same pattern: every time, Germany’s last match in the competition left us with the feeling that with a little bit more courage, determination and toughness, there could have been more.”

Other newspapers put it in more scathing terms. The match against England, wrote Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, ended a period of “self-deception” in which Löw and the German FA had indulged themselves in the belief that they could rebuild the team after the retirement of the golden generation that had lifted the trophy in 2014.

“With the 2014 World Cup, Jogi Löw built himself a monument,” commented the broadcaster Heiko Neumann on ARD television after the match. “Since then, he has spent seven years tearing it down again.”

The website of Der Spiegel criticised Löw’s tactics and team selection. “This team has players of a high calibre, many of them are star performers for international top clubs,” wrote Peter Ahrens. “But as a team of 11 players the national side hasn’t clicked for some time, and the coach has to take some blame for that.

“His choice to remove Joshua Kimmich’s driving force from the centre of midfield did not pay dividends. He didn’t have a lucky hand in the choice of his strikers. Leroy Sané disappointed against Hungary. Against England, Löw pulled Timo Werner off the pitch after an hour.”

While many in Germany will greet the coach’s departure with relief, Spiegel warned of the challenges facing his successor and former assistant, Hansi Flick: “There are many exceptionally talented players in German football, but most of them were also at this tournament.”

In the grand postmortem of the Löw era, England had only a bit part to play, even if Gareth Southgate’s team were praised as the deserving winners of the night. “England was too clever,” wrote Die Welt. “In an incredibly tight match, it was efficiency that made the difference,” commented Kicker magazine, upending stereotypes of old.

“The English didn’t even need an outstanding performance to edge this tie in a completely deserved manner, with their fourth victory without conceding,” wrote Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. “For England the fairytale may continue,” wrote taz. “For us and Jogi, meanwhile, it is finished”.

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