It reads like the punchline of an April Fools joke.
Germany 1, North Macedonia 2
However, there was nothing fake or fabricated about that marker. The result was truly real and well deserved, amazing as it was. In their history, Germany had lost just two World Cup qualifiers before Wednesday’s upset in Duisburg. One was West Germany against Portugal in 1985, the other against England in 2001. That’s the list.
Following their 35-match unbeaten streak in qualifying for nearly 20 years, there is a heightened sense of doom surrounding the 2014 World Cup champions entering the summer of Euro, where they are grouped with a formidable trio from France, Portugal and Hungary, and a stark reminder that perhaps UEFA’s path to Qatar will not be as smooth as initially anticipated.
After the first set of matches, only six of the 55 teams are still in the race to achieve what Germany did in qualifying for the 2018 World Cup and win all qualifiers, and it is a group with a certain rank. England, Italy, Denmark and Armenia are the only ones to go 3-0-0 in the opening window of the competition, while Sweden and Switzerland only played two heats and won both.
The reasons for this are plentiful and nations in other regions should take note. With schedule congestion and triple headers brought on by the pandemic, it’s only natural that tired legs, squad rotation, and lack of sharpness are taken into account more than ever. Germany coach Jogi Löw, on the other hand, opted for almost no changes to his starting lineup in his three games and felt the repercussions that come with a weakened and tired group. Despite the clashes that, on paper, seemed quite uneven, it would seem that the mantra of “that’s why the games play” will still be appropriate for this campaign.
Consider Luxembourg’s victory over Ireland and the brief advantage over Portugal; France’s draw against Ukraine; Croatia’s defeat to Slovenia, which then went and lost to Cyprus; Malta’s tie with Slovakia; Georgia’s advantage over Spain, which only turned into an injury time loss; Turkey’s broken lead and draw against Latvia (which followed impressive victories over the Netherlands and Norway). The underdog seem empowered, motivated, and capable, while the favorites are more touchy, shy, and reserved. Given the talent disparity in some of these matchups, it’s natural for the guard to drop and focus on drifting, but there is a price to pay in the form of points on the table.
Even after a group outing at the 2018 World Cup, even after a 6-0 Nations League loss to Spain in November and even after this most recent result, the price is unlikely to cost you. to Löw his work, since he already announced that he will step aside. after euros. But sitting third in the group, behind Armenia and North Macedonia, will not sit well with the German federation, which will install another coach by the time qualifying resumes in September.
Here are a couple more takeaways from the start of the qualifying campaign for the UEFA World Cup 2022:
Focus on human rights
The competitive road to Qatar may involve some unusual twists, but it is quite evident that the road off the field will, too. Players from the Netherlands, Germany and Norway made loud statements about human rights, a clear nod to everything that has happened in Qatar over the last decade, as the stadiums are being built to host this World Cup.
The Guardian recently reported that there have been more than 6,500 migrant worker deaths in Qatar Since the country was awarded the World Cup in December 2010, and while there have never been indications that FIFA would consider relocating the tournament or speaking out against Qatar and its laws and working conditions, its member associations are not staying so quiet.
The Dutch, Germans and Norwegians wore T-shirts to get attention, and while boycott suggestions have been put forward, it doesn’t seem like anyone is taking it to that level.
“I think we were 10 years late to boycott the World Cup,” said German star Joshua Kimmich. “It wasn’t assigned this year, but a couple of years ago. One should have thought about boycotting back then.
“Now we have to seize the opportunity and use our publicity to raise awareness about things. But it is not just about us footballers … we must work together.
“As footballers we have a certain responsibility. We have a responsibility to talk about things. Regarding this topic, we tried it with a very spontaneous shirt activity.
“In football, you have the opportunity to point out things and we should continue to do so.”
Belgium coach Roberto Martinez also fell short in advocating for a boycott, with the prevailing wisdom that using the event and the run-up to it as a means to draw attention to tragedies and wrongdoing could have a purpose greater than withdrawing altogether. . Regardless of whether that’s correct, you can expect to see more screens of nations and players using their platforms in the coming months leading up to the first November 2022 release.
Key injuries and their side effects
Two of the most influential players in their clubs and countries suffered from the virus of international service injuries, and now it remains to be seen how costly that will be.
Bayern Munich and Poland star Robert Lewandowski, the current FIFA Best Male Player of the Year, will miss the next four weeks with a knee injury, while the captain of Real Madrid and Spain is expected to Sergio Ramos, is out for a similar time. with an injury to his own leg.
Injuries come at the precise moment of the most important games of the season. Bayern’s Bundesliga title reign is threatened by RB Leipzig, and the two teams will meet on Saturday. After that, it’s the two-game Champions League quarter-finals against PSG (and a rematch of last August’s final), and whether Bayern can prevail or not, they could still be without Lewandowski for the match of first leg of the semifinals.
It’s equally terrible for Real Madrid, who are a different team with and without Ramos patrolling the bottom line. He will miss a rematch of the 2018 Champions League final against Liverpool (and a showdown with Mohamed Salah, whom he injured in that final) and a Clásico that falls in the middle of the two hot UCL matches with Real and Barcelona. at Atlético de Madrid. queue in the search for the La Liga title.
The road to the World Cup through Europe may not be that straightforward, and one of the by-products of that is that the club season shoot will not be either.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.