“Since he took charge in 2008, Low has consistently looked to the future, both tactically and in terms of the personnel he called up. Thanks to his forward-thinking – Germany enjoyed a great decade of success, even though there had been heartbreaks, but when one just looks at the number of successes of Germany achieved under Low, those become irrelevant”
It was hard to digest that a team like Germany would not feature in Euro 2020 anymore. There were critics who thought, this German side might not make it till the end, but again, they had brought such a wonderful squad that the Germans were not only expected to feature in the finals but ultimately lift the trophy – at least, the German fans thought such because their coach was Joachim Low, under whom, Germany enjoyed great success more than a decade.
But, after the damp and unremarkable performance at Wembley against England in the Round of 16, the expectations took a telling blow – surely, this could not be Germany, rather a team that had passed its best – the era of Low and his boys were coming to an end – the end that many did not expect.
“I was so disappointed,” Low would say after Tuesday’s 2-0 loss, explaining why he seemed to be in such a hurry to exit the scene.
“It was clear. It was obvious it was going to be all about patience. You need to be clinical if you want to succeed. The English team scored on their first opportunity, we didn’t.”
“There are not many more thoughts in my head.”
“We would have turned the match around if we had scored on Muller’s chance,” he said later.
“We’re absolutely gutted,” Manuel Neuer said.
“It hurts a lot to go home now,” Toni Kroos said.
“If you crash out in the round of 16, of course, it’s disappointing, but now we have to move on,” Kai Havertz said, his voice steely.
Joshua Kimmich was crying while the tears of that little German girl had touched everyone.
Germany are out of the tournament, and with that, the era of Low ended as well.
And, of course, the defeat at Wembley was just another hiccup amid so many great achievements for Low in the last thirteen years.
After the shocking defeat against Croatia in the quarterfinals of the World Cup 1998, a great era of German Football came to an end.
The Germans were going through a transition period and a lot of youngsters were coming to the team but the majority of them were raw.
The defeat against England by 5-1 still hurts and when the FIFA World Cup 2002 commenced in South Korea and Japan, Rudi Voller’s Germany were rated as the underdogs, but ultimately, they ended up as the runner-ups.
The glory days of German Football might have faded, but still, under Voller, they did develop the temperament to go all the way.
Voller left the scene after a disappointing Euro 2004 and Jurgen Klinsmann took over a young side with the mission to repeat 1974 in 2006 – the World Cup would be held in Germany.
Klinsmann bought a guy named Joachim Low.
Low started his playing career with 2.Bundesliga club SC Freiburg.
He returned to the club twice in 1982 and 1985 and held the club’s overall goal scoring record until 2020 when Nils Petersen surpassed him.
In 1980, Low joined VfB Stuttgart in the Bundesliga as an attacking midfielder, but he had difficulties establishing himself in the starting lineup and played only four matches.
In the 1981–82 season, Low played for Eintracht Frankfurt where he bagged five goals from 24 matches, but he returned to Freiburg the following year.
In 1982–83, he scored eight goals in 34 matches; in 1983–84 he scored 17 goals in 31 matches in the 2. Bundesliga.
Afterwards, he returned to the Bundesliga with Karlsruher SC, but he only scored two goals in 24 matches. Later, he joined Freiburg again for four years, played 116 matches and scored 38 goals. Löw concluded his career in Switzerland, where he played for FC Schaffhausen from 1989 to 1992 and FC Winterthur from 1992 to 1994.
Low played four times for the Germany national under-21 team but never played for the national side.
He could feel that his footballing career would not flourish the way he wished for and thus started his coaching career as a youth coach for FC Winterthur while he was still active as a player.
In 1994–95, he served as player-coach of FC Frauenfeld.
In 1995–96, he became an assistant coach to VfB Stuttgart head coach Rolf Fringer. As Fringer had the opportunity to become coach of the Switzerland national team, Low was promoted caretaker manager on 14 August 1996. He eventually became the permanent manager and was at the club until 1998 and finished with a record of 46 wins, 20 draws and 23 losses.
Low joined Turkish club Fenerbahce in 1998 and finished third in the Superlig and were eliminated in the first round of the UEFA Cup.
They were serving a one-year ban in the Turkish Cup.
He returned to Germany and became the manager of Karlsruher SC in 1999, but the next year he was sacked with the club finishing right the bottom.
Low returned to Turkey as manager of Adanaspor and the stint was unsuccessful – When he left Adanaspor, the club was in the relegation zone at 16th place.
In 2001, he became the manager of Austrian club Tirol Innsbruck and led them lifting the title of Austrian Bundesliga.
He finished with a record of 11 wins, five draws and nine losses.
The same year, the club had to declare bankruptcy and was liquidated. Low was once again unemployed. He was with Austria Wien from 2003 to 2004.
During the 2003–04 season, Wien were eliminated from the Champions League by Marseille in the third qualifying round and eliminated from the UEFA Cup by Borussia Dortmund in the first round.
They lost the 2003 Austrian Supercup to FC Kärnten.
He left the club in 2004; Austria Wien were in first place at the time of his departure.
Like his playing days, Low’s journey as a manager was not rosy and when he was included as the assistant manager of the German National Team, there was an element of surprise and in the coming days, he would surprise everyone.
Germany finished third in the World Cup 2006, but the development of the team impressed everyone, especially their attacking intent.
Besides focusing on attacking football and youth development, Klinsmann’s staff, including Low, also introduced an alternative B-team: Team 2006, to experiment with new aspiring players suitable to play at the home World Cup.
Klinsmann and co introduced an enhanced fitness coaching staff, as well as Oliver Bierhoff as the “Business Manager “– this job revolves around public relations, general management and everything not directly related to coaching – and finally a mental coach, Dr Hans-Dieter Hermann, who has the job of preparing the German players for stressful situations in major tournaments.
In 2006, following Klinsmann’s decision not to renew his contract, Low was named as the new manager of Germany. Low obtained a contract for two years and announced that he wanted to continue in the philosophy developed with Klinsmann to play with an offensive style.
Low was particularly concerned with the amount of time his players hold on to the ball before passing. During his tenure, he reduced this time significantly, increasing the pace of the German game.
The Germans have always been known to be a rugged defensive unit but when they generate pace and attack on the counter, they become a brute force – they always had man-markers, liberos and clinical strikers and wing backs, who might not please the spectators, but were able to go a long way in any major events.
Low shifted from that philosophy a bit and injected more fluidity that enriched German football since he took over the job in 2008.
The 3-4-3 or 3-5-2, 4-3-3 and 4-4-2 were shunned and Low started to develop his winning machine under the 4-2-3-1 formation.
Philippe Lahm was made the captain, two pivots in the form of Sami Khedira and Bastian Schweinsteiger offered immense physicality, as well as tactical and technical brilliance, Mesut Ozil and Thomas Muller, took over the creative and scoring roles respectively while Miroslav Klose was the hit-man. Lucas Podolski was the source of energy, Mats Hummels led the defence along with Jerome Boateng and in between the sticks, Manuel Neuer was given the freedom to spread his wings.
Above all, Toni Kroos provided a top-class alternative in the centre, with more intent to attack and unlock defences with great vision and passing accuracy.
Both full-backs are encouraged to get forward with support play and controlled build-up, while the wider attacking midfielders have great movement and the ability to score goals, regardless of who starts.
The whole unit played adventurous football but that adventurism does not come at the expense of defensive solidity and organization, though, with the entire squad expected to contribute to working back into position off the ball and denying the opposition room or time to play through.
Before the World Cup 2010 in South Africa, Low lost his leader Michael Ballack and Lahm took over the captaincy, while his squad very young. Still, his adventurous football earned accolades from everyone.
Four years later, Germany were a revolution in Brazil.
They started the event with a 4-0 win over Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal and thrashed the host Brazil by 7-1 and in the final beat Lionel Messi’s Argentina with the sheer tactical master class.
After leading Germany to the Euro 2008 final, Low began to include fresh faces with the aim of drastically reducing the squad’s average age and offering hope for an even brighter future.
“After Euro 2008 it was clear we needed to rejuvenate,” Low told World Soccer in the build-up to the 2010 World Cup.
“This we’ve achieved. Roughly half the current squad is 23 or younger and they bring a freshness and hunger which can only be helpful.”
Ahead of that final, the likes of Manuel Neuer, Jerome Boateng, Sami Khedira, Mesut Ozil and Thomas Muller were almost unknown to the rest of the world. Afterwards, they were superstars. This quintet continues to play a key role in Low’s Germany for 13 years – in between, they lifted the World Cup in 2014.
Low’s willingness to blood young players is matched by his ability to implement new tactics. His Germany have committed to a zonal defensive approach and a fluid offensive game only benefited Germany.
Since he took charge in 2008, Low has consistently looked to the future, both tactically and in terms of the personnel he called up. Thanks to his forward-thinking – Germany enjoyed a great decade of success, even though there had been heartbreaks, but when one just looks at the number of successes Germany achieved under Low, those become irrelevant.