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Spain celebrate a goal
Image: Marcelo Del Pozo/REUTERS

Six-star Spain embarrass Germany

Jonathan Harding | James Thorogood
November 17, 2020

Joachim Löw's side needed a point to win their Nations League group. Instead they suffered their biggest defeat since 1931 as Spain dispatched their visitors in a flurry of minutes in both halves.


Spain 6-0 Germany, Olimpico de la Cartuja
(Morata 17', Torres 33', 55', 72', Rodri 39', Oyarzabal 89')

If Oliver Bierhoff was unhappy about criticism towards this young Germany team before tonight, he probably isn't prepared for the headlines coming Wednesday morning.

In a game that Germany only needed a draw to top the group and finish a difficult year on a positive note, Germany were embarrassed by Spain.

Joachim Löw's decision to sit deeper so as to remove the possibility of inviting space backfired. Germany made a host of basic errors, that their hosts gleefully and ruthlessly took advantage of.

Basic errors

Two headed goals from corners where marking was either poorly chosen or just absent was sandwiched by a goal that epitomized Germany's issues in the game.

Matthias Ginter failed to close down Koke, who sent a cross in for Dani Olmo. He had the beating of Robin Koch in the air and after the ball had beaten Neuer and hit the bar, Ferran Torres reacted faster than anyone to score. In three consecutive moments Germany were slower to react. It was the story of their night as Germany delivered their worst performance since losing to South Korea in Russia two years ago.

Spain celebrate
Manuel Neuer suffered a tough night in goalImage: Marcelo Del Pozo/REUTERS

On a night when Germany conceded six it seems odd to say that Germany's best player was Manuel Neuer, but were it not for the Bayern keeper Germany might have ended up feeling a bit like Brazil in 2016. Löw said he swapped to man-to-man at halftime and asked his side to press more, but Spain were faster, better, tougher.

"It hurt," a visibly frustrated Kroos said afterwards. "It wasn't down to the tactics because both approaches we tried didn't work... There's a lot to do, as you can see."

Captain Manuel Neuer added there was a lack of communication and positive body language. That much was clear when the fourth, fifth and sixth went in. Neuer couldn't stop them, but Germany should have done.

Löw's side looked more than tired, they looked a class apart. The worst part about that for Löw was that unlike in recent friendlies, this was a starting eleven that was close to being what Germany's starting team next summer would look like.

A night to learn from

It's hard to believe this was Germany's only defeat in the year but it was also the worst way to end a run of eight games in 75 days.

Against Ukraine, a game that controversially even took place in the first place after COVID-19 cases in the Ukraine camp, Germany also had their moments of passivity. Germany got the win they needed to boost their confidence, but it also hid small symbols of concern like Ukraine hitting the woodwork three times.

It turns out those small signs are actually not so small at all and rather lingering issues of Löw's entire latest attempt to deliver a new Germany side.

Against Spain those issues were exposed in the most dramatic fashion, but Löw was also not helped by a desperately poor and lethargic performance from his players. Löw repeated afterwards that although tonight was "a huge disappointment" that he trusts these players.

While Germany reacts to one of the toughest nights in their football history, this new team must look for this failure to be formative.

Morata celebrates
Spain scored goals that left Germany looking sillyImage: Marcelo Del Pozo/REUTERS

As it happened:


Remember this night. Spain have embarrassed Germany here with a game that will either be the making of this team or the moment that Löw's failed attempt to redesign this team was laid bare. Six goals for Spain, and none for Germany despite having nearly their best team available. There will be a lot of questions.

88' GOAL! 6-0 Spain (Oyarzabal) Gaya gets into the box and his low cross is passed into the net by sub Mikel Oyarzabal. Everything that could have gone wrong has gone wrong for Germany tonight. Big questions of Löw too.

84' The game is coming to a quiet end now, almost like Spain don't want to hurt Germany any more. The faces on the Germany bench look stern. A memorable night for Germany, and for all the wrong reasons. Spain still playing lovely stuff, by the way.

77' CROSSBAR! Serge Gnabry lets rip from distance and Germany have an effort towards goal. It's not on target, but baby steps. Germany are sat really deep, desperate to avoid conceding more. Henrichs is on for Werner. Spain playing keep ball, Germany still chasing red jerseys.

72' GOAL! 5-0 Spain (Torres) Germany can't stop the fifth. Another flowing, sweeping move ends with Torres firing a perfect effort into the far corner. Germany are down by five. Speechless. Spain respond by subbing out their entire front line. Job done.

69' Spain nearly get a fifth, but another cross is blocked. A lot of shocked faces in Germany's ranks here. Perhaps this is the kind of defeat that can forge this side.

63' Germany are desperately trying to claw their way into the game, but they just can't. They have to be wary of conceding a fifth or a sixth. Sané and Goretzka make way for Waldschmidt and Neuhaus.

55' GOAL! 4-0 Spain (Torres 55') Spain break and again that looks too easy. Gaya's low cross gets past Max and an unmarked Torres takes a touch and then fires past Neuer. Embarrassing now.

54' Germany do get into the box but it peters out before they can fashion a chance. Löw's side have to try and get some control here.

50' This time it's Tah who loses the ball high up the pitch, but Morata can't get the ball away in time. Chance to really end it here but Ginter gets in the way. Don't want to say it but Germany have to make sure this isn't a disgrace tonight.

48' Koch loses the ball in a bad spot after Olmo out-muscles him. The RB man drives forward and forces a good save out of Neuer, who has been Germany's best player by some distance. Koch makes good on his error by blocking Koke's rebound. We might have had a break but this looks much the same as in the first half.

46' Spain gets us restarted. Jonathan Tah has replaced Niklas Süle, who was struggling with knee issues anyway.


Perhaps the worst half under Löw since Russia that. Errors all over the place and Germany just collapsed. The contest is over, but can Germany finish the year with a bit of pride? The second half will provide us with the answer.

43' Ramos can't continue as so is replaced by Manchester City's Eric Garcia. Süle makes another error, but this time Spain can't capitalize. Germany want halftime.

39' GOAL! 3-0 Spain (Rodri) Germany have lost this game, but the way they have is disastrous. Another corner and Rodri gets free to angle a header towards the back corner. Easy as that. Neuer shouts. Germany's defense looks around. A nightmare for them.

38' Germany have to get to the break here. Bierhoff looks pretty unhappy, as does Löw.

33' GOAL! 2-0 Spain (Torres) It has been coming. Koke gets free wide left as Ginter misses out, Olmo heads it superbly towards the back post but is denied by the crossbar. It doesn't matter though, as Ferran Torres belts home the rebound on the volley. Germany all over the place at the back.

30' SAVE! Some slapstick defending puts Germany in hot water. Süle's clearance hits Goretzka, rebounds into Spain's path and Ferran Torres drills it towards the far corner. Neuer makes an incredible save though, to keep it at 1-0. Hanging by a thread a bit here Germany.

UEFA Nations League | Spanien v Deutschland
Image: Marcelo Del Pozo/REUTERS

27' Koch drops a lovely ball over Spain's midfield for Sané, who spreads it wide and eventually sees Germany win a corner after Max's cross is blocked. It comes to nothing though, and that is really the story of Germany's opening half an hour in Seville.

23' Germany trying to recover but they do look a little rattled. Sané wins the ball back but can't do more with it. Spain flood forward, Torres gets past Koch and crosses at the back post for Morata who taps home. The flag is up though. Still, a warning again for Germany. Max caught up the field and Germany not quite able to get back in time. Saved by the flag.

17' GOAL! 1-0 Spain (Morata) Sometimes it is as simple as that. Spain win a corner and it is delivered perfectly to the back post where Morata has the beating of Gnabry and heads through Neuer. Not a great match-up there marking wise and leaves Morata free to head home. Sort of out of nothing that, but Spain lead.

14' Fabian Ruiz is on for Spain. Max flashes a cross but there's no one there. Gnabry gets onto the end of a long ball but his shot is blocked. Germany slowly squeezing chances out of a game that is warming up. 

9' Süle can ping a diagonal ball you know. A perfect one lands at Werner's feet, and although inside the box, he plays it first time to Sané but Spain's defense gets their first to clear. A sign that if things go quick for Germany they can find space. Canales holds his hamstring, he can't carry on. Came from controlling a ball. Ouch. All these games, I tell you...

UEFA Nations League | Spanien v Deutschland
Image: Angel MartinezGES/picture alliance

5' CHANCE! Early handbags. Olmo fluffs a volley and goes for a second attempt but as he does so Gündogan tries to clear the ball and clips him - albeit barely. He looks to be just in the area when he does so but the referee decides on a free kick right on the line of the edge of the box inside, central spot. Ramos is the one to step up and just as Manuel Neuer says, "watch for the shot under the wall" Ramos fires a low effort under the wall that Neuer strongly parries wide. Good instincts, good save.

3' Spain pressing high, hard and early here. Going to be an uncomfortable night for Germany if they can't find a way past it. Löw's side are sitting a little off Spain so far, waiting for them to enter into their half before pressing harder.

1' Germany, all in white, get us started.

Not long now

Teams are in the tunnel, keeping their distance, as are the subs in the stands. Spain goes out first, and then Germany - as is the standard during these strange days.


Joachim Löw believes in Philipp Max, it seems. More interesting is that Germany's head coach has opted to avoid the midfield issue of who to play by playing all of them in what appears to be a 4-3-3. Genuinely keen to see how this eleven plays tonight.

Spain's defense might not look that familiar to Germany viewers, other than Sergio Ramos, but the front three are as dangerous as ever. Bundesliga fans will know all about Dani Olmo's playmaking abilities.

Germany XI: Neuer - Max, Süle, Koch, Ginter - Kroos, Goretzka, Gündogan - Sané, Werner, Gnabry

Spain XI: Unai Simon - Gaya, P. Torres, Ramos, Sergi R - Koke, Rodri, Canales - F. Torres, Morata, Olmo

Previous meetings

Good evening! That this game is taking place is curious given Ukraine vs. Switzerland, the other two teams in this Nations League group, had their game deemed "unplayable" only today after more COVID-19 cases in Ukraine's team. It is even more bizarre given Germany played Ukraine just days ago in Germany. Still, the latest in Sevilla is that the game will go ahead. Teams are expected soon.

Read more —  Germany take step forward with win over Ukraine

Previous meetings

Of the 24 previous meetings, Die Nationalmannschaft boast the historical advantage with nine wins to Spain's seven. The 1-1 draw last month was the eighth time they shared the spoils, a result that would be enough for Germany to clinch top spot in Group 4.

From the player's mouth: Timo Werner

"Going forward things are looking pretty good. We're also getting more solid at the back. If we can keep on working together regularly, things could get a lot better - especially looking ahead to EURO 2021.”


Fun fact

Even though the campaign hasn't been all smooth sailing, Germany could claim redemption against Spain. Having failed to beat the Netherlands and France in the inaugural Nations League, they could finish top of the group which would be a happy ending at the end of a year of hardships.

Read more — Opinion: Football's soullessness laid bare


From the player's mouth: Serge Gnabry

"Things look good for us. After two draws to start the campaign [against Spain and Switzerland], we couldn't have dreamed of a better position to be in going into our final game. We have the advantage and can be confident going into the game against Spain.”

Fun fact

If Germany avoid defeat against Spain, they will remain unbeaten in 2020. It would be the second time they've gone a whole calendar year without losing since Joachim Löw took over in 2006 having previously done it in 2017 when they went 15 games unbeaten and claimed the FIFA Confederations Cup. 


From the coaches' mouth: Joachim Löw

"Our expectation is to travel to Spain and set ourselves the target of winning the game and not spending the entire 90 minutes defending. It's going to be a game of high quality played at the highest level.”


Possible line-up: Spain

de Gea – Sergi Roberto, Ramos, P. Torres, Reguilon – Busquets, Merino – F. Torres, Koke, Oyarzabal - Morata 

Possible line-up: Germany

Neuer – Ginter, Süle, Koch – Goretzka, Gündogan, Kroos, Max – Sane, Gnabry, Werner

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