1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Germany win but miss chance to inspire before Euro 2024

Jonathan Harding Mönchengladbach
June 8, 2024

Germany might have beaten Greece, but the performance wasn’t inspiring. The players hope fans will deliver a more constant support, with the European Championships around the corner.

Pascal Gross holds his badge in celebration of a goal for Germany against Greece
Pascal Gross (right) only made his Germany debut in 2023 when he was already in his thirtiesImage: CHRISTOPHER NEUNDORF/EPA

At the end of a week when the conversation around the Germany team had largely been about identity and the possible repeat of another summer fairy tale, Julian Nagelsmann's side were met with boos after a disappointing 45 minutes against Greece.

"Of course I can understand the fans being angry," Benjamin Henrichs said afterward. "I think the way it was in the second half, when they cheered us on on the field, it's better for us and there's a sense of community, and that we also go through tough times together."

Germany won the game, with Pascal Gross scoring late to seal a 2-1 victory. The performance though was not that of a team looking to sweep a nation off its feet. It was unconvincing, perhaps even a little unsettling seven days before the start of the tournament, and leaves a lot of questions unanswered.

Manuel Neuer made three fantastic saves, but his second error in the space of five days handed Greece an early lead. Robert Andrich was a little foul-happy, and Jamal Musiala admitted himself that he lost possession more than he usually would.

But all of this should probably be taken with a pinch of salt. Germany have looked good under Nagelsmann in 2024, and one game shouldn’t change that.

Nagelsmann leading from the front

"I won't let any discussion arise, even if everyone tries to start one," Nagelsmann told RTL afterwards when asked about Neuer and a possible change in goal.

Even though criticism of Nagelsmann’s tactics will be inevitable, his leadership so far has been impressive. His selection has been bold and offered a fresh twist to a side that was going stale.

"They [Andrich and Deniz Undav] are the type of players no one reckoned with and yet still believed in themselves,” said central defender Jonathan Tah. Goalscorer Gross is another who took the long road to the top, and perhaps that approach is bringing this team closer together.

Jonathan Tah heads a football
Jonathan Tah says that a crop of new players have invigorated the squadImage: CHRISTOPHER NEUNDORF/EPA

Nagelsmann’s work extends beyond the field too. As part of their Euro 2024 preparation, the team spent some time with the special forces in an attempt to learn more about communication and teamwork. More recently, this week they had a visit from Gordon Herbert, Germany’s basketball coach. Herbert guided Germany to sensational success at the 2023 FIBA World Cup, where they won gold.

His visit was a sign that perhaps this team is more connected to the current Zeitgeist than previous teams, such as the 2022 World Cup squad who famously watched a video about how grey geese work together. This current iteration of the Germany team is connecting with success stories that speak to the playing group in a way that is more likely to create a sense of belonging and purpose.

"We work well together, communicate and there’s a lot more togetherness than before," Tah said. "It’s a diverse group of characters that gets on well together and wants to be successful."

More than fairweather fans wanted

On the evidence of this final week ahead of the Euros, the definition of that success might have shifted but the overall feeling is that this group remains united. What they clearly hope is that the public stay the same.

"It's going to be a long tournament and we need support in every game," Musiala said afterwards. "We're going to have bad phases sometimes and that's when they [the fans] have to stick with us. We'll do everything we can to make the fans proud."

The friendlies are over. The squad is set. The players will enjoy a weekend off before they head to base camp. The next seven days will be full of predictions, pontifications and presumptions as the country’s excitement about a summer filled with so much promise builds. Fever pitch approaches, even if the team did little to spark it into life this week. Now, after failing to do so at the last three major tournaments, Germany have to make sure they win their opening game. After that, support will likely spread across the country and whistling at halftime will be unimaginable.

Edited by: Matt Pearson