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Sport

Germany's overhaul far from complete after Spain demolition

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany, planning to have an overhauled and tournament-ready team at next year’s European soccer championships, are running out of time, with coach Joachim Loew’s changes so far failing to deliver.

A 6-0 demolition by Spain on Tuesday was their heaviest defeat in almost 90 years and only added to their fluctuating form in recent months.

Loew brushed the defeat off as a “disastrous day” but the coach, in his 14th year in charge, has now seen his team exit in the first round of a tournament for the third straight time.

Winners of the 2014 World Cup, Germany crashed out in the tournament group stage four years later. They were then relegated from the Nations League competition a few months later after failing to win a single game and eventually stayed up only thanks to a rule change.

That exit prompted the start of Loew’s overhaul as he dropped several world champions - including Thomas Mueller, Jerome Boateng and Mats Hummels - in favour of younger players.

But their loss to Spain meant they are again out of the Nations League competition from the group stage.

“We saw today that we are not as far down the road as we had hoped to be,” Loew said of his team’s dismal performance against the Spaniards.

“After the first goal we just gave up being organised. That was deadly. We charged out and just opened up all the spaces. We forgot about our game plan and just ran around out there.”

With falling TV figures, mounting criticism and Loew’s refusal to recall Boateng and Thomas Mueller, who won five titles this year with Bayern Munich, and Hummels, the coach has worked himself in a corner.

Germany will next play again in March before a few more warm-up matches prior to the tournament start in June.

With a large pool of players to chose from but without a finetuned core of starting players, the overhaul that started in 2018, is still largely a construction site seven months before the tournament.

“I have faith in my players,” Loew said. “Now our responsibility is to question everything and question ourselves as well. We have to draw the right conclusions.”

Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; Editing by Angus MacSwan

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