Germany have gone from strength to strength under Joachim Löw's stewardship, but for the first time since he replaced Jürgen Klinsmann in July 2006 there is pressure on the coach to turn impressive performances at final tournaments into silverware.
Widely regarded as the tactical mastermind behind Germany's run to the 2006 FIFA World Cup semi-finals when assistant to Klinsmann, Löw has gone on to lead Germany to the UEFA EURO 2008 final and the last four of the 2010 World Cup. However, the latest semi-final setback at UEFA EURO 2012 and Germany's inability to get over the finishing line has prompted the 52-year-old to adjust his tactics for the upcoming qualifying campaign.
"We will have to completely change our tactics – which used to be, 'if we have the ball we are active, if not we drop back'," said Löw, whose side were drawn in qualifying Group C alongside Austria, the Faroe Islands, Kazakhstan, the Republic of Ireland and Sweden. "Our aim in the next months will be to play a high pressing game, even against attacking sides.
"We have to be more active when defending without the ball. Everyone has to play their part and this gives us quite a lot of work to do in training but we have to tackle this now. Before the European Championship there was not enough time."
A 3-1 August friendly defeat by Argentina suggests that such tactical alterations may take time and Arsenal FC defender Per Mertesacker was honest in his assessment of the team's shortfalls. "Something is lacking," said the 27-year-old, veteran of 81 Germany appearances. "The team has been in semi-finals, won many third-place matches, but the decisive step is missing. I hope there will be a time when we can lift some silverware."
Germany begin their Group C programme at home to the Faroes but will not be taking their opponents lightly having secured only 2-0 and 2-1 victories against them in UEFA EURO 2004 qualifying. Emulating the 100% record achieved en route to Poland and Ukraine is a target yet Löw is setting out on the road to Brazil without FC Bayern München forward Mario Gomez, who misses out through injury. Miroslav Klose should therefore lead the line, and Löw wants his side to start as they mean to go on. "We want to win both matches and set an example," he said.
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