EURO 2016


Germany scrape through to Euro 2016 finals

Germany qualified for the Euro 2016 finals as Group D winners after substitute Max Kruse's winner sealed a nervous 2-1 victory over Georgia on Sunday for the world champions.

Germany scrape through to Euro 2016 finals
Photo: DPA

Thomas Müller netted a 50th-minute penalty for Germany only for Georgia captain Jaba Kankava to make up for conceding the spot kick by hitting a superb equaliser, but Kruse then came off the bench to claim the late winner.

The result saw Germany finish top of the table by a point, while Poland join them in qualifying directly for the finals in France after their 2-1 win over the Republic of Ireland in Warsaw.

But Germany's victory in Leipzig did little to disguise the world champions' below-par campaign over the last 12 months and head coach Joachim Löw admits there is huge room for improvement.

With the scores locked at 1-1 mid-way through the second-half, Georgia threatened to inflict a second embarrassing defeat on Germany, who had succumbed to a 1-0 loss to Ireland in Dublin last Thursday.

Today we can sing the same song from the Ireland match,” fumed Löw.

“We missed three or four very clear chances in the first half and a certain frustration comes when errors creep in.

“We are generally satisfied that we have managed to qualify, but dissatisfied with the last two games.

“That is not our standard, there is still much work ahead of us.”

After away defeats to both Poland and Ireland, this has been Germany's worst qualifying campaign for a major tournament since the 2002 World Cup when they finished second behind England in their group.

They were made to work in Leipzig by a battling Georgia team who finished second from bottom in the table.

Both sides had first half chances as Marco Reus and Müller went close while Georgia's Tornike Okriashvili forced Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer into a stunning save on 27 minutes from 12 metres out.

Germany looked to have the game under control when Mesut Özil was sent sprawling by Kankava early in the second half as Müller stepped up to slot home the resulting penalty.

But Kankava instantly made amends when the midfielder chested down a poor headed clearance from Jonas Hector and unleashed a rocket of a volley into the top right-hand corner on 53 minutes.

It sent the small pocket of watching Georgia fans into ecstasy and suddenly Germany's direct qualification looked far from assured.

Another Hector mistake gave midfielder Valeri Kazaishvili a half chance on 57 minutes from which he drew another top save from Neuer.

But Wolfsburg's Kruse came off the bench on 76 minutes to spare Germany's blushes.

The 27-year-old had been on for just 150 seconds when he collected Özil's final pass and slammed his shot home.

The winner nudged Germany into life and although they created further chances, Löw will demand his attack finishes more chances in November's friendlies against France and the Netherlands.

“In training, we shoot 50 goals and ball after ball flies into the net,” said a bemused Neuer when asked about Germany's poor finishing.

“We need the killer instinct up front and we're making life hard for ourselves when we also concede the equaliser.

“Hopefully, we'll be different for the European championships and will re-find our game, which the German national side is known for.”

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Is Leipzig really Germany’s ‘ultimate travel destination’?

The Saxonian city of Leipzig has been named by traveller’s bible Lonely Planet as its “ultimate” travel tip for Germany. Does the Local Germany’s knowledgeable readership agree?

The city centre of Leipzig.
The city centre of Leipzig. Photo: Jan Woitas/dpa-Zentralbild

Long a cult favourite among Germany fans, the left-wing city of Leipzig appears to now be gaining mainstream recognition after the Lonely Planet crowned it the country’s top travel destination this week.

In a new book titled “Ultimate German Travel Destinations – the top 250”, the travel publisher put Leipzig ahead of picturesque getaways such as Lake Constance and the Zugspitze as its number one destination.

“The hype that some say surrounds the city isn’t hype t all: Leipzig really is hipper than Berlin, and hotter than Munich, especially among millennials,” the guidebook boldly claims.

It goes on to lavish praise on the city of 600,000 inhabitants as “young, exciting, multifaceted – sometimes colourful, sometimes grey – and with a vibrant liveliness.”

“Everyone wants to go to the city where the anti-GDR demonstrations started,” the guidebook continues. “It is the home of Auerbachs Keller (made famous by Goethe and Faust); it’s the city of street art and wave gothic festivals; and its artistic scene at the Baumwollspinnerei is second to none.”

READ ALSO: A love letter to the eastern German city of Leipzig

‘Not cooler than Berlin’

Reaction to the list among the Local’s readership was mixed.

“It is a beautiful city and it’s easy to navigate. I find it hard to say that it’s cooler than Berlin, though. Berlin simply has more,” one reader told us on Facebook. “It’s the kind of place where people find their ‘spot.” I think most people in Leipzig know about most places in Leipzig. It’s a much smaller city. That may just be a more favourable lifestyle for some.”

Praise for Saxony’s biggest city ranged from admiration for the beauty of its architecture (particularly its train station) to the vibrancy of its arts scene.

Others suggested that Leipzig is indeed overhyped and that it can’t compete with natural wonders such as the pristine Königssee in the Bavarian Alps.

Lake Constance wins silver

Lake Constance, the country’s largest body of fresh water, came in second on the list.

The authors praised the southern See, which borders Switzerland and Austria, for “the many beautiful spots on its shores: Lindau, Meersburg, Überlingen, Constance and more – often surrounded by lush orchards.”

A regatta on the Bodensee in September 2021. Photo: dpa | Felix Kästle 

Hamburg’s new Elbphilharmonie concert hall came in third. 

“It’s impossible to imagine the Hanseatic city’s skyline without this glass work of art, which soars into the sky above the harbour like a frozen wave,” the book notes.

Also in the top ten were the Wattenmeer, which is a huge nature reserve on the North Sea coast, Berlin’s museum island, the sandstone hills of Saxony, and Germany’s highest peak, the Zugspitze in Bavaria.