Germany faces reality check before title defense
BERLIN — Defending World Cup champion Germany coasted through qualifying with a perfect 10-0 mark and a European record 43 goals. Then came a reality check. Germany drew friendlies against England, France and Spain, and Joachim Loew’s team lost 1-0 to Brazil to end a 22-game unbeaten run, and then came a defeat to Austria. The Germans didn’t win a game this year until last week’s 2-1 victory over Saudi Arabia in Leverkusen.
Now trying to become the first time since Brazil in 1962 to defend their World Cup title looks tricky for the Germans.
“We’re not as good as we’re made out to be, or as some think we are,” midfielder Toni Kroos said. “There’s huge room for improvement.” The recent slump in friendly matches could snap any complacency among the Germans going into the World Cup, which needs to top Group F to avoid a likely second-round clash against Brazil. Here’s a closer look at the Germany team:
Loew, assistant coach to Juergen Klinsmann during Germany’s “summer fairytale” hosting of the 2006 World Cup, was promoted to the top job after its third-place finish. He favors a fast-paced possession-based game, pressing opponents to recover the ball and switching quickly from defense to