Scholl to Loew: Stick with 4-2-3-1
Ex-Germany international warns against tinkering
The Germans are on course for back-to-back World Cup and European Championship victories, yet it's not all hunky dory back in Germany.
With knives sharpened, the critics are ever-ready, scrutinising coach Joachim Loew's every move, despite them sealing a historic win over Italy in the Euro 2016 quarter-finals yesterday morning (Singapore time).
Former German international midfielder Mehmet Scholl says Loew should not have abandoned their usual 4-2-3-1 formation, which won them the World Cup, for a 3-5-2 line-up to combat the Italian midfield in Bordeaux.
The 45-year-old, who was part of Germany's Euro-winning side of 1996, said the tinkering showed Loew does not trust his players as much as he did two years ago.
"It's not grumbling, but why put a team in that situation?" questioned Scholl in German daily Bild.
"In 2008, we changed things around and lost to Spain.
"2010: same again.
"2012: changed things around against Italy and we went out.
"The point is, in 2014, Loew trusted the team and played the same formation from the quarter-finals and that's how you win titles!"
Loew said he decided to switch after watching Italy beat Spain 2-0 in the previous round and after Germany beat Italy 4-1 in a friendly in March with a 3-5-2 system.
"It was necessary. You have to change the side after a game like Slovakia, which was very different," explained Loew.
"We tried to close down the centre for Italy. After I saw the Spain game, that was my first thought.
"After the World Cup, I realised we had to change a little bit. We played a 3-5-2 against Italy in March and it worked."
Loew admitted there is still room for improvement as his team of "fighters" broke their Italy hoodoo.
It was the first time Germany have beaten the Azzurri in nine attempts at a World Cup or European Championships Finals, thanks to Jonas Hector's crucial penalty, which sealed the world champions' 6-5 shoot-out victory.
"From a fighter's point of view, it was amazing what the side did," said Loew as Germany reached the European Championship semi-finals for the third time in a row.
The match finished 1-1 after extra time, as Mesut Oezil's superbly-worked second-half goal was cancelled out by Leonardo Bonucci's 78th-minute penalty.
Man-of-the-match Manuel Neuer was Germany's hero in the shoot-out, saving shots by Bonucci and Matteo Darmian in the marathon 18-penalty battle.
But the world champions' efficiency deserted them at crucial times. Thomas Mueller, Oezil and Bastian Schweinsteiger failed to convert their shoot-out spot-kicks, as nerves got to them.
It was the first time the Germans had missed penalties in a shoot-out since 1982.
But Loew was full of praise for Hector and 21-year-old Joshua Kimmich, who nailed their penalties under intense pressure.
"The experienced players missed and the younger guys came through, so that's quite positive," Loew said. - Wire Services.
BY THE NUMBERS
Germany missed more penalties in 10 minutes in their quarter-final against Italy than in their six previous shoot-outs. Die Mannschaft had only previously failed twice from the spot in shoot-outs, with Uli Hoeness' 1976 blunder costing them the European title and Uli Stielike missing in the 1982 World Cup semi-final victory over France.