For so long, this appeared to be the night when Germany’s haunting ordeal came to an end. Away from home against World Cup winners France, Joachim Low’s side played with intensity and ambition, taking the lead through a Toni Kroos penalty, and a corner appeared to have been turned.
The obituaries for a fallen nation were being ripped up and at half-time, the talk was of a nation rediscovering their former selves – but then the World Champions turned up for the second-half.
Antoine Griezmann looped a magnificent header beyond Manuel Neuer and then Mats Hummels, so impressive until the 80th minute, brought down the marauding Blaise Matuidi and Griezmann converted. So these dark and bedraggled times continue for the most imposing of football nations.
GERMANS’ HORROR RUN
Germany have won three of their last 13 internationals, scoring 11 goals and conceding 17 (as of 2-1 vs France) – a run stretching back to last November’s goalless draw with England at Wembley.
November 10, 2017 – England 0-0 Germany
November 14, 2017 – Germany 2-2 France
March 23, 2018 – Germany 1-1 Spain
March 27, 2018 – Germany 0-1 Brazil
June 2, 2018 – Austria 2-1 Germany
June 8, 2018 – Germany 2-1 Saudi Arabia
June 17, 2018 – Germany 0-1 Mexico
June 23, 2018 – Germany 2-1 Sweden
June 27, 2018 – South Korea 2-0 Germany
September 6, 2018 – Germany 0-0 France
September 9, 2018 – Germany 2-1 Peru
October 13, 2018 – Holland 3-0 Germany
October 16, 2018 – France 2-1 Germany
First came Germany’s worst World Cup for 80 years. Then came the race row that has alienated star player Mesut Ozil and underlined the splinters in German society. And then the humiliation of a 3-0 defeat by Holland on Saturday evening.
Manager Low, whose future is ever more questioned, described the capitulation in Amsterdam as ‘really bad’ and accused his players of ‘running around like headless chickens.’ Now they are on the brink of relegation from the inaugural Nations League.
The Germans will not lose too much sleep over that but it is another body blow to an immune system that has been battered and bruised in the second half of this calendar year.
For the rest of the world, the schadenfreude rolls on. It is now only three wins from the past 11.
Runs like these are not supposed to happen to Germany. This used to happen to other nations, while the Germans peered on with mild amusement and detached curiosity. Not anymore.
France (4-2-3-1): Lloris 6.5; Pavard 6, Varane 6.5, Kimpembe 5, Hernandez 6.5; Kante 6.5 (Nzonzi 90), Pogba 6.5; Mbappe 6.5 (Dembele 86), Griezmann 8 (Ndombele 90), Matuidi 7.5; Giroud 6
Subs not used: Mandanda, Areola, Sakho, Lemar, Digne, Payet, Sidibe, Zouma
Manager: Didier Deschamps 7
Goals: Griezmann 62, 80 pen
Germany (4-4-2): Neuer 7; Ginter 6 (Brandt 83), Sule 7, Hummels 7.5, Schulz 6.5; Kehrer 6.5, Kimmich 7, Kroos 7.5, Sane 7 (Draxler 75, 6); Werner 7, Gnabry 7 (Muller 88)
Subs not used: Leno, Ter-Stegen, Hector, Can, Tah, Rudy, Uth
Manager: Joachim Low 6
Goals: Kroos 14 pen
Referee: Milorad Mazic (Serbia) 6.