Nations League: Six big questions for Germany to answer | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 10.10.2018
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Nations League: Six big questions for Germany to answer

What does Joachim Löw's rebuild look like? Will the next generation get a chance? What effect will Bayern's crisis have? Have Germany won back the fans? DW looks at some of the big questions facing the national team.

What does Germany's re-build look like?

The decision to start with four central defenders and play Joshua Kimmich in defensive midfield told fans all they needed to know about Joachim Löw's priorities in Germany's Nations League debut against France in Munich last month: just avoid defeat against the new world champions in the first game since the World Cup. 

But a month on, the upcoming competitive double-header against the Netherlands and France should give us a much better idea of what Germany's post-World Cup rebuild is going to look like.

Will Löw persevere with his favored possession game or look to inject more individual quality and pace? Or will the younger generation, the players who have all come through the country's revamped youth academy system, see Germany opt for the pressing game which is so common in the Bundesliga?

Joachim Löw talks to his players ahead of a friendly against Peru (Getty Images/Bongarts/A. Grimm)

Joachim Löw talks to his players ahead of a friendly against Peru

- Read more: Nations League build-up

Will the next generation get a chance?

Unfortunately, several players who could play a key role in that process are missing through injury, including Kai Havertz, Ilkay Gündogan, Nils Petersen and Leon Goretzka. 

Mark Uth has received his first call-up at the age of 27 and could become the 100th player to make his debut under Löw, while Serge Gnabry has replaced the injured Leon Goretzka - but are either of the required quality? 

Timo Werner and Julian Brandt led the line against Peru in Sinsheim but it's difficult to draw many conclusions from a friendly. Will Löw perservere with them or will Thomas Müller return to the starting line-up - with questions over his best role remaining? 

Niklas Süle started ahead of Mats Hummels in central defense against Peru and the more pacey 23-year-old could be a more logical choice in these games too, particularly in Paris against the French.

Joachim Löw effectively took a youth team to Russia in summer 2017 and won the Confederations Cup - surely it's time that generation was allowed to step up. 

Julian Brandt (Imago/DeFodi)

Bayer Leverkusen's Julian Brandt was one of the only German players to come out of the World Cup with any credit.

How seriously are Germany taking the Nations League?

After Liverpool head coach Jürgen Klopp slammed the Nations League as "the most senseless competition in the world," Joachim Löw leapt to the defense of UEFA's new international format.

"For us, and for me as national coach, the Nations League is a good invention," he said in Berlin on Tuesday. "Because we're play against top nations, because it's for something. It is a real competition. That is sometimes preferable to me at this stage than playing against the smaller countries."

Leon Goretzka is less convinced, saying that there are "definitely more important tournaments" but admitting that it does offer Germany the chance to polish up their damaged image. "It's fun to play against two attractive opponents," he said.

- Read more: Joachim Löw defends Nations League after Jürgen Klopp criticism

 What would be considered success for Löw?

"The semifinal of the European Championship is the absolute minimum," said former Germany and Bayern Munich coach Jürgen Klinsmann in Sportbild on Wednesday. "I'm sure [Löw] still has that hunger. Who wouldn't want 'European Champion' on their CV?"

But the 1990 World Cup winner also said Germany's players have a point to prove. "Both the 2014 generation who won the World Cup and the younger team who won the 2017 Confederations Cup need to provide answers," said the 54-year-old, who was sacked as USA national team coach in November 2016. "The potential is there; they just have to show some backbone."

What effect will Bayern's crisis have?

UEFA Champions League | Bayern München vs. Ajax Amsterdam (Reuters/A. Gebert)

Bayern Munich's struggling players form the core of the national team.

Bayern Munich players form the core of Joachim Löw's squad but, with the German champions currently mired in crisis after four games without a win, what effect could that have on the national team?

"I know what qualities these players have," said Löw, referring to the Bavarian contingent of Manuel Neuer, Jerome Boateng, Mats Hummels, Niklas Süle, Joshua Kimmich, Goretzka, Gnabry and Thomas Müller. "We've had situations in the past where players weren't in their best form for their clubs but have delivered for the national team. They're all experienced enough to deal with the situation."

Read more - Opinion: Kovac dismissal would exacerbate Bayern 'crisis'

Has the German team repaired its relationship with the fans?

One of the biggest criticisms of the German football association (DFB) and the national team in the wake of the World Cup debacle was that they had become too detached from the fans. Both Löw and team manager Oliver Bierhoff addressed the issue in their post-Russia analysis and promised more open training sessions to try to reconnect with the supporters.

In Berlin on Tuesday, 5,000 local children watched the team train at Hertha Berlin's amateur stadium, next door to the Olympic Stadium. "It's important that the kids get to see the players close up and get autographs and selfies," said Bierhoff, who has taken most of the blame for the perceived over-commercialization of "Die Mannschaft."

"It was part of our self-criticism after the World Cup," added Löw, promising that open training sessions will take place more often. "We said we have to be more open towards the fans."

But given that the games against the Netherlands and France are both away, it's hard to gauge the success of such measures.

FIFA Fußball-WM 2018 in Russland | Deutschland verliert gegen Südkorea - Enttäuschung (Reuters/H. Hanschke)

The World Cup debacle left many German fans disillusioned.

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