Germany has always been one of the world’s best soccer countries. They have been to 19 of the 21 world cups, advanced to the round of sixteen 17 times, and won the Cup four times, most recently in 2014. Since then, Germany has spiraled downward, getting knocked out of this summer’s World Cup in the group stage, and most recently getting relegated from the League of Nations.

Germany was in League A in Group 1. Germany was paired with the current World Cup holder France, and a Dutch team that failed to qualify for the tournament in Russia, but has since played like one of the best teams in the world, it was always going to be a closely contested group. Germany’s first match was a 0-0 draw with France, a respectable result, but they have since have not picked up any points. After three matches, they have one point, and have been relegated to league B which currently has no nations that were at the World Cup, a continuation on their current abysmal run.

Head coach Joachim Löw has been the only constant for the Germans. He led the Germans to becoming World Champions in 2014, but has been unable to maintain this level of success. This year, the Germans have only won four of their twelve matches, with notable losses to Austria, Mexico, and South Korea.

It is interesting that arguably the worst year in German soccer on an international level coincides with the year that Bayern Munich are struggling. Bayern have won the Bundesliga six years in a row, yet this year sit in fifth place, seven points off leaders Borussia Dortmund. Bayern have looked shaky all year, and they have just six wins after eleven matches. Their struggles seem to only occur domestically, as Bayern have taken ten of a possible twelve points from their Champions League matches so far. The domestic struggle of Bayern and the international struggles of Germany are unusual, and the fact that they coincide is bizarre, but are they related? The German squad had eight players from Bayern, so it is possible that there is a lack of confidence for both teams which could be causing this funk.

After being relegated to League B of the Nations League, Löw and the Germans must change what they are doing, but at what point is it time for a big change for the Germans? Following their exit from the European championships in 2004, they created and executed a plan on how to become an international soccer powerhouse again. The plan basically was to pour funding into raising youth players. This plan was fulfilled when they  won the World Cup ten years later, with a relatively young team. This plan of using youth development as a way to ensure future success was a blueprint on how to win a World Cup, yet only four years after being the best team in the world, the Germans finished last in their group at the World Cup. Löw plans to start this plan again, as he said “With this in mind we will have lots of room to allow young players to come in and for them to get more and more experience with the national team,” according to Sport360.

As a fan of soccer, it is weird to see Germany struggle. Gary Lineker, one of England’s best goalscorers once said, “Football is a simple game. Twenty-two men chase a ball for 90 minutes, and at the end the Germans always win.” It is a very odd time at the international level. Countries that tend to dominate, such as Germany, are struggling, while new countries are beginning to excel, such as Iceland and Croatia. With Germany in trouble, it is a worrying sign for a fan of the game. I don’t support Germany, but it pains me to see one of the globe’s greatest soccer countries struggling to perform at any level.

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