Germany’s dejected players are on their way home after their shock World Cup exit.
Joachim Loew’s men failed to reach the last 16 after their surprise defeat to South Korea in Kazan on Wednesday night.
The pre-tournament favourites were sent packing after just one win from their three Group E games, with Sweden and Mexico qualifying for the knockout stages instead.
Loew and his players looked down in the dumps as they headed home from Vnukovo airport in Moscow on Thursday morning as Spain were installed as the new favourites.
Loew is being criticised for failing to take Manchester City’s flying winger Leroy Sane to the World Cup.
Sane had an outstanding season for City, racking up 14 goals and 17 assists and winning the PFA Young Player of the Year award as Pep Guardiola’s men claimed a record-breaking Premier League title and the Carabao Cup
But the 22-year-old was surprisingly left out of Loew’s squad for Russia – and the defending champions departed the group stages after losing to Mexico and South Korea either side of a late victory over Sweden.
The inquests have already started and when Loew and his dispirited squad arrive back in Frankfurt at lunchtime one of the questions he will need to address is why Sane was deemed surplus to requirements.
Former Germany captain Michael Ballack took to Twitter to reflect the mood of the nation by retweeting a post he wrote when the squad was named in early June.
It read: “Leroy Sané, the best young player in the Premier League, has to stay at home? Loew is under massive pressure with his decision.”
Loew is still regarded as the best coach to take Germany forward, but he now has to find a way of easing out those older players who disappointed in Russia to make room for younger players who won the Confederations Cup and European Under-23 championship last summer.
It would be a huge surprise if Loew followed up with his threat to resign given the talent coming through.
But players like Mesut Ozil, Ilkay Gundogan, Sami Khedira, Marco Reus, Mario Gomez, Mats Hummels, Jerome Boateng and even misfiring Thomas Muller all face a fight to prove that this World Cup was a one-off aberration.
Germany’s shock World Cup exit
Germany had 72 efforts on goal in Russia – more than any other team in the group stages – and their 28 attempts against South Korea was also a record for the tournament so far.
But the absence of Sane has prompted a huge national debate, as has the apparent lack of leadership in the squad from Germany’s most experienced players.
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