- Die Mannschaft celebrate victory in Amsterdam EURO qualifier
- Rollercoaster ride ends with last-gasp winner
- Gnabry: "The first half was sensational"
It's fair to say 2018 is not a year German fans will be cherishing too many memories from after disastrous 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ and UEFA Nations League campaigns.
However, 2019 got off to a pulsating start in their first competitive encounter against neighbours and rivals the Netherlands. A five-goal thriller served up plenty of excitement and its fair share of talking points as the Brazil 2014 champions got the UEFA EURO 2020 qualifying campaign rolling with a late win.
FIFA.com takes a closer look at five things to come out of the clash for Joachim Low's side.
Speed and purpose over possession and control
The Germans impressed in the first half in Amsterdam, winning balls quickly and deploying two strikers that were just too hot to handle. The Dutch simply could not contain Leroy Sane and Serge Gnabry, who made frequent goal-bound runs at pace and tried repeatedly to get their shots off. It was precisely this kind of purpose that Germany lacked last year on numerous occasions.
Gnabry: "The first half was sensational. We held on until the very end and deservedly scored the winner. This result is a great boost for us."
Nico Schulz the solution?
The position of left-back has certainly been a work in progress for Germany in recent months. Low experimented with several options, but neither Jonas Hector nor Marvin Plattenhardt managed to really convince. However, with Hoffenheim’s Nico Schulz, there seems to be much more movement down that flank. The lightning-quick left footer does not only fulfil his defensive duties but is also capable of pushing forward and initiating attacks. He was instrumental in the build-up when Germany took the lead and scored the winner himself two minutes from time. Schulz has certainly seized his opportunity and Low appears to have solved one problem – at least for now.
Schulz: "We can draw a lot of self-confidence from this match. The victory is a very, very positive thing for our team."
Manuel Neuer equal to the task
As you would expect from an experienced captain in rough seas, Manuel Neuer kept a firm grip on the helm and calmly helped steer the ship back on course. With Marc-Andre ter Stegen performing very well recently, Neuer's position as undisputed No1 is no longer guaranteed. Moreover, in recent times, Neuer has perhaps been lacking some of the confidence of previous years. Yesterday, however, he demonstrated that he can still be a very reliable presence, pulling off two truly world-class saves in a faultless display.
Neuer: "It's not about Marc (ter Stegen) and nor is it about me. The relationship between all the keepers is a very good one. We work together as we’re all on the same side."
Leroy Sane – a world-class winger?
Manchester City's wing wizard seems to have finally found his place in the national team. After following his debut with some sub-par performances and being overlooked for Russia 2018, he is now thriving in Low’s current side. The 23-year-old showed his full repertoire of tricks against the Dutch, carving out numerous chances for himself and his team-mates. Endlessly flamboyant, it is a joy to watch Sane play when he is in this kind of form.
Quincy Promes: "For me, Leroy Sane is one of the world's best in his position."
Low delivers after major reshuffle
Low was under substantial pressure to deliver after dropping veterans Mats Hummels, Jerome Boateng and Thomas Muller. The first competitive match of 2019 against the Dutch was also the first for his revamped squad. In a country that has won the World Cup four times, there is no such thing as a period of grace. All that counts are results – and even more so in a prestigious match against neighbouring Netherlands. Having suffered two defeats at their hands last year, Low took a considerable risk - and it paid off. The Oranje seemed taken aback by Germany’s attacking trident in the first half, and when these proved less effective after the break, he showed his tactical nous by sending on Marco Reus, who made the assist for the winning goal.
Low: "'Of course I’m very satisfied now. This time, we also had some of the luck we lacked in recent matches. Today, we really opened the throttle and got the most out of the team."