Germany will host Switzerland on Tuesday amid sharp criticism of national team head coach Joachim Low, who are still struggling to escape after their disastrous 2018 World Cup.
By their own high standards, Germany have made a low start in the Nations League with two draws, against Spain and Switzerland, and narrow wins over Ukraine before facing Switzerland in Cologne.
The full-strength side canceled out a 2-1 win against Ukraine in Kyiv on Saturday following three consecutive draws when Germany leaked a second-half goal on three occasions.
On Tuesday, Toni Kroos will make his 100th appearance for Germany, but Julian Draxler, Marcel Halstenberg and Lukas Klostermann have all taken punches and are doubtful starters.
As well as injuries, Low feels little need to “change a lot” in the starting line-up despite the worrying signs in Kyiv.
Only Leon Goretzka’s lucky header – after a rare mistake by Ukraine goalkeeper Heorhiy Bushchan – made the difference as Germany often gave possession cheaply.
“I see the big picture on the way to the European Championship,” Low said with the Euro 2020 finals in eight months.
“We have a clear plan. We know what we’re doing.”
Low has a contract until 2022, but his popularity – which peaked when Germany won the 2014 World Cup – fell after the 2018 finals in Russia, where Germany failed to leave their group.
Despite Low’s promise to rebuild the team, Germany are still prone to losing concentration, as evidenced when they conceded three equalizers against Turkey.
German fans seem to agree with Low’s criticism amid disappointing television viewership figures recently for an international match in football-mad Germany.
About 7.5 million watched to witness victory over Ukraine.
That’s a slight increase at the 6.77 million that saw last Wednesday’s 3-3 draw against Turkey – 21.5% of the market, the lowest attendance figure in 14 years since Low took over.
TV expert Bastian Schweinsteiger, a key part of Low’s 2014 World Cup team, told broadcaster ARD he felt “the public can no longer identify 100%” with the national team.
“Too bad. I hope things turn around soon,” he said.
After drawing with Turkey, Lothar Matthaus, who captained West Germany in their 1990 World Cup triumph, slammed Low for agile players like Nico Schulz, who struggled to get a game for Dortmund.
“That’s why nobody turns on the television to watch Germany anymore,” wrote Matthaeus in a column for the German daily Bild.
Low dismissed such criticism.
“I have had different opinions for 16 years,” he said after joining the German coaching team in 2004.
“You have to see where we come from. After the 2018 World Cup, we were at the bottom.”
But his critics can argue that there has been little sign of progress in the two years since.