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By Peter Weis@PeterVicey

The 0-6 aftermath: Germany's editorial pages let loose

Germans couldn't have envisaged a worse end to 2020 for their beloved Nationalmannschaft. One day after the debacle, the opinion pieces flooded the internet and hit the newsstands. 

In a comprehensive piece prepared exclusively for Bulinews, we'll take a look at what the editorial pages in all of Germany's major papers-of-record had to say. 

After doing that, we'll wrap with the words of Philipp Köster over at the country's foremost satirical footballing publication.
Süddeutsche Zeitung:  "The greying family doctor"
German football writer Philipp Selldorf saw the defeat as something far more than an anomalous occurrence. In his view, the result "unmasked and exposed" how weak and directionless the current national team is. He described the squad as "an urgent emergency crying out for external first aid." In this metaphor, Löw assumes the role of an "greying and overtaxed family doctor."

Selldorf criticized the DFB-director Oliver Bierhoff for his nonchalant dismissal of the defeat and emphatically stated that the drubbing cannot be understood as an isolated mishap; not in light of Löw's 2018 World Cup failure. The opinion journalist described the weariness of the German public with a trainer who did not appear to know that it was time to step aside.

"The time spent together was long enough," Selldorf argues, "Now two years have passed in which Löw has led the national team in an increasingly solitary, aloof, and even estranged manner. No one can say that regenerated enthusiasm has emerged for him on the scene." He goes on to argue that Bierhoff and others must respect this "vanished passion" and take Löw's "diminished charisma" into account.

In a separate opinion piece, Christoph Kneer calls upon the DFB to, at the very least, consider consequences against Löw; most notably forcing him to walk back his intransigence on his famous three-player exclusion proclamation.

Die Zeit:  "At least let Thomas Müller back in"
Respected German footballing journalist Oliver Fritsch jokes that not even Donald Trump could manage to declare a 0-6 defeat a victory and mocks Löw for his 4-2-1-3 that could only muster one single solitary shot on goal, shortly before full time when everyone had already packed it in for the evening.

Fritsch echoes a judgment one of his colleagues writing for an American publication, claiming that the Nationalmannschaft has been in consistent decline since the 2014 World Cup semi-finals. Since it was Löw himself who proclaimed himself the architect of a rebuilding phase after the 2018 World Cup humiliation, Fritsch poses the question as to whether, after over two years, it's time to label his overhaul a failure.

"This XI almost never convinces," Fritsch laments, "back [in August 2018], Löw himself retrospectively admitted that arrogance was the reason behind the [2018 World Cup] failure. He nevertheless stubbornly sticks to his understaffing [referring to the Müller, Hummels, Boateng exclusion] attitude."

In another article, footballing journalist Christian Spiller actually undertakes a detailed analysis of the career form of all three excluded players. He arrives at the conclusion that the two defenders aren't in the greatest position to provide assistance to the national team. With respect to Thomas Müller, however, Spiller supplies a long list of practical ways in which the 31-year-old legend can immediately help the squad in its current form.

Spiller wholeheartedly endorses a return for Müller; something a vast majority of the German footballing public will surely concur with.

Der Spiegel:  "Oversteering and exhaustion"
Germany's pre-eminent paragon of journalism hasn't yet called in native son Raphael Honigstein for one of his native language guest pieces just yet, but opinion writers Peter Ahrens and Marcus Krämer are more than happy to pick up the slack. Krämer lambasts Tooni Kroos for almost not attempting to play at all and notes that newcomer Philipp Max turned out to be "the weakest link."

Ahrens speaks of the German team's "fatal complacency"; a problem with deep roots that lies in the DFB's decision to allow Löw to continue after the 2018 disaster. Plenty of blame is reserved for Oliver Bierhoff as well, whom Ahrens accuses of turning the national team into a brand and anointed himself CEO. "The national team seems, for many, to resemble more of a DAX-corporation than a football association," Ahrens writes.

The piece recounts all the disappointing results of 2020. The writer nevertheless insists that it isn't merely about results. According to Ahrens, Bierhoff has been "oversteering the team" in the wrong direction from a public relations vantage point. The now 60-year-old Löw comes across as "grim and exhausted"; a leader who cannot be trusted to reinvigorate the team and engineer a turnaround.

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung:  "Nothing can be done"
The FAZ's Christian Kamp, like many others, reports that the DFB finds itself "stuck in the entanglements it created in 2018". Kamp, as virtually all of the country's other editorial chiefs also admit, concedes that it is far too late to consider a change in leadership so close to the European Championships."

Kamp cautions Germans against investing any hope in their team this coming summer. In the view of this writer, nothing can save the federation when a full house cleaning remains necessary. A return of Müller, Hummels, and Boateng would only serve to further debilitate the wrecked national XI.

The structure and hierarchy Löw has put in place has already cemented in a younger generation of players. Kramp notes that to replace them with veterans at his point would destroy their confidence and credibility, possibly for several years to come.

The editorial poses all the familiar questions about Germany's Nationalmannschaft, which Kramp suggests "has reached a new low-point". The writer takes care to emphasize that there are, in fact no answers. "A small cut cannot be achieved without a big one," he writes, insinuating that German fans must wait until the post-Löw Era to once again hope and dream.

Berliner Zeitung/Der Tagesspiegel:  "Löw must resign"
The country's capital is more known for the country's major tabloid--Bild-Zeitung--than it is wonkish journalism, with radio reportage--Radio Berlin-Brandenburg in particular--more trusted to deliver nuance than the local print media. Sensationalist as they may sometimes be, Berlin's two major papers of record remain above the tabloid level when it comes to coverage of most events.

Markus Lotter of the Berliner Zeitung outright calls for the immediate resignation of both Löw and Bierhoff. Lotter notes that Germans have long ceased to identify with the national team. Bierhoff's unforgivable mistake to allow Löw to determine his own fate after the 2018 group stage exit placed the team in the hands of an obstinate trainer who arrogantly concluded that he alone could be trusted to rebuild the country's "prized possession." There must be consequences, Lotter argues.

Over at the Tagesspiegel, Michael Rosentritt accuses Löw of corrupting the German nation's "favorite child" and implores the Bundestrainer to honorably and quietly exit through the "back door". "The 60-year-old cannot and will not be the great innovator anymore," Rosentritt writes, "It's obvious that Löw is not able to bring out the best in this team. And so a certain tragedy hovers over the debacle in Seville. It's the tragedy of one who didn't sense when it was time to go. Löw missed his chance to go out on top. Now all that remains is an exit through the back door."

11Freunde:  "Even our nickname sucks"
Berlin may not always produce the country's most subdued journalism, but it is home to the greatest footballing publication ever created. No German footballing enthusiast considers his/her life complete without Philipp Köster's razor-sharp monthly magnum opus.

The pages of "11-friends" deliver plenty of layered banter for the football satirist. True to form, the magazine characterizes Löw's latest incarnation as the "German national Schalke". On the website, a pictorial journey takes one through all of the historic defeats suffered by the national team during the early 20th century and, to properly emphasize how dated such a result is, explains what was going on in the world at that time.

Köster himself takes on the project of writing the magazine's main editorial piece. "The attempt to lead the team back to the top of the world with new actors and new ideas after the disastrous 2018 World Cup in Russia has failed," Köster bluntly writes, "Nothing worked yesterday evening. The defense invited Spain to score. The midfield left their opponents hectares of space. The attack didn't produce a single chance in the penalty area until after 90 minutes. It was a singular disaster."

The co-founder of the magazine applies his rapier wit to all facets of the disaster, even suggesting that German supporters need to develop a better nickname for their national team. Simply calling them "die Mannschaft" ("the team") inadvertently encourages lame play through lame support.

"This generic moniker has long been representative of the lifeless atmosphere surrounding the team for years," Köster barbs, "and it's wonderfully symbolic of the dull and meaningless motivational messages our fan-club fills the stadium curves with. 'We for you'? [The latest banner] hit the mark about as well as the German strikers did against Spain."

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