They dispatched Iceland and held-off Romania – the next roster against the 65th ranked North Macedonia should have been an easy one. Well, it ended up as a nightmare for Joachim Low and Germany. It is the madness of March and like the Dutch, Germany tasted it last night at the MSV-Arena.
— Germany (@DFB_Team_EN) March 31, 2021
North Macedonia scored an 85th-minute winner through Eljif Elmas to stun hosts Germany 2-1 in their World Cup Group J qualifier on Wednesday as the Balkan country celebrated their greatest international victory.
Low started with a three-man defence against North Macedonia last night which consisted of Matthias Ginter, Antonio Rudiger and Emre Can.
The three-man system works fine when you have wing-backs that allow you to change the formation from 3-5-2 to 5-3-2 as and when needed.
Good heavens, Germany have lost to North Macedonia.
— Gary Lineker 💙 (@GaryLineker) March 31, 2021
However, Leroy Sane and Robin Gosens are not exactly wing-backs and that proved costly for the Germans – the backline was exposed.
It was the same problem last night as both Gosens and Sane looked threatening while bombing forward but had little defensive awareness or positioning sense without the ball.
The duo failed to track back and help out their defence. This allowed North Macedonia to run at gaping holes down the channels.
Moreover, Emre Can struggled for the entirety of the game and it clearly showed that he is not a natural centre-back.
Timo Werner, who came on for Kai Havertz in the 56th minute of the game, had a poor outing.
🇦🇲 Armenia – 9 points
🇲🇰 North Macedonia – 6 points
🇩🇪 Germany – 6 points
These are real standings 😲 pic.twitter.com/6MO1F89VhE
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) March 31, 2021
To make matters worse, he squandered a pretty big opportunity to give his side the lead.
Werner only had a single attempt throughout the course of play and even that was not on target. He needs to step up big-time if he is to maintain his place in the team going ahead.
The Germans played a very boring brand of football whereas everyone expected them to steamroll the opponent.
But that does not undermine the efforts of North Macedonia, who showed character.
Despite Germany’s 70% possession in the first half and Leon Goretzka’s shot onto the crossbar, it was the visitors who scored when 37-year-old Goran Pandev was left unmarked in the box to tap home in the first-half stoppage time.
❤️ Enis Bardhi dazzles, 37-year-old Gordan Pandev and 21-year-old Elif Elmas get the goals, and North Macedonia produce the shock of European #WCQ thus far and arguably the best result in their history in Germany. What a night to be Macedonian! pic.twitter.com/rZaRlWMP0S
— FIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCup) March 31, 2021
The Germans had their opponents boxed in their own half but apart from a Serge Gnabry effort had little to show for it until Leroy Sane was brought down in the box.
Ikay Gundogan’s 63rd-minute penalty drew the hosts level but despite late pressure and a golden chance for Timo Werner 10 minutes from time, Germany could not find a winner.
They were lucky not to concede a penalty for an Emre Can handball but were still punished for not making their dominance count when Elmas found space in the box to turn in a cutback for the winner.
“These lads have made North Macedonia proud against the winners of four World Cup titles and three European championships,” North Macedonia coach Igor Angelovski said.
🤯 Germany's Jamal Musiala and Florian Wirtz were not even born when Goran Pandev made his international debut in 𝟮𝟬𝟬𝟭
— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) April 1, 2021
“We’ve never beaten a team with so many titles. Now we have to get some rest as what we have accomplished still hasn’t sunk in.”
“We couldn’t find a way to break down a deep-lying North Macedonia team,” Low said afterwards.
“Our organization inside the box wasn’t good.”
“We’re thoroughly disappointed. We simply looked too tired today. There wasn’t energy about our play and we made too many mistakes going forward.”
“When we moved the ball around quickly, we looked dangerous. Our opponents sat deep and we couldn’t find a way to break them down. All in all, it was disappointing.”
“We cannot allow that to happen,” Gundogan said in quotes on the German national team’s official website.
GERMANY LOSE TO NORTH MACEDONIA 🤯
Their 35-game unbeaten streak in WC qualifying games is snapped! pic.twitter.com/Vq3xxBLW96
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) March 31, 2021
“North Macedonia were more or less in our box twice and we made it easy for them. We tried to work chances, but we only managed to score once. The way we conceded both goals was poor.”
Germany suffered a loss in the FIFA World Cup qualifiers for the first time in 20 years. The last time they lost a qualifier was to England in 2001.
The Germans now sit in third position behind Armenia and North Macedonia in the FIFA World Cup qualifying group.
The qualification chances for Germany for Qatar 2022 look thin and it is simply unbelievable!