EURO 2016


Löw takes flak despite decade of German success

In reaching the Euro 2016 semi-finals, Joachim Löw has maintained his impressive record of consistently steering Germany to the final stages of major tournaments -- yet is still facing criticism at home.

Löw takes flak despite decade of German success
Under Löw's stewardship, the football-mad German public has got used to success again. Photo: DPA

Germany face France or Iceland in next Thursday's Marseille semi-final as die Mannschaft look to add a fourth European crown to their World Cup title.

Their Italian curse was finally broken with a dramatic 6-5 penalty shoot-out victory in Saturday's quarter-final after a 1-1 stalemate following extra-time — Germany's first win over their old enemies in nine attempts at major finals.

But even after Jonas Hector's final converted penalty in Bordeaux saw Germany throw off the shackles of their history to break the Azzurri hoodoo, there were still grumblings back home.

Under Löw's stewardship, the football-mad German public has got used to success again.

The inglorious exit at the group stage of Euro 2004 is now a distant, albeit unpleasant, memory.

Thanks to Löw's influence, Germany have now reached at least the semi-finals of the last six major tournaments.

Löw was assistant to Jurgen Klinsmann when Germany finished third at the 2006 World Cup on home soil.

With Löw in sole charge, Germany reached the Euro 2008 final, finished third at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and made the semi-finals of Euro 2012 before winning the 2014 World Cup in Brazil — Germany's fourth global crown, but their first for 24 years.

But even as the team were celebrating reaching another semi-final on Saturday, former international Mehmet Scholl was unimpressed by the win over Italy.

Scholl says Löw should not have abandoned the standard 4-2-3-1 formation, which won the World Cup, for a 3-5-2 line-up to combat the Italian midfield in Bordeaux.

The ex-midfielder said the tinkering showed Löw does not trust his players as much as he did two years ago in Brazil.

Scholl argued Löw should stick with the same team for next week's semi-final in Marseille and, should they progress, next Sunday's final at the Stade de France.

“It's not grumbling, but why put a team in that situation?” questioned Scholl in German daily Bild.

“In 2008, we changed things around and lost to Spain.

“2010: same again. 2012: changed things around against Italy and we went out.

“The point is, in 2014 Löw trusted the team and played the same formation from the quarter-finals and that's how you win titles!”

Germany struggled to break down Italy's watertight defence on Saturday and Mesut Ozil's well-worked second-half goal was the highlight of a tense, edgy affair.

Löw has suffered one blow with key midfielder Sami Khedira set to be ruled out of the rest of the tournament after limping off with a partially torn groin muscle against Italy.

Adding to the coach's problems, centre-back Mats Hummels is suspended for the semi while striker Mario Gomez also took a knock against Italy.

Veteran midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger, who came on after Khedira limped off in the first-half, was initially bothered by the right knee he had injured in March.

Probable changes to personnel aside, Scholl says Löw should stick with his tried-and-tested formation for the last week of the tournament.

“The goal has to be to achieve this automatic, fluid football we've played in the past,” he said.

Löw himself admits there is room for improvement as Germany struggled to finish their chances in Bordeaux.

Thomas Mueller endured another frustrating, goalless evening in Bordeaux while Schweinsteiger's first-half header was ruled out for a foul.

With a record like Löw's, he could be forgiven for ignoring his detractors — and he seemed set on just one goal after Saturday's drama.

“Of course we want more,” he said. “When you're in the semi, of course, the goal is to reach the final.”


British football teams allowed to skip Germany’s quarantine for Euro 2020

Germany's government announced on Tuesday it will allow England, Scotland and Wales to enter the country without quarantine to play at Euro 2020 despite a recent rise in cases linked to the Delta variant of Covid-19 in Britain.

British football teams allowed to skip Germany's quarantine for Euro 2020
One of the venues for Euro 2020 is in Munich. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Sven Hoppe

The three teams could potentially reach the quarter-final held in Munich on July 2nd.

If that were the case, they would be exempt from the rule that travellers from the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland must currently observe a 14-day isolation period due to the virus strain of concern – Delta – first identified in India.

“The people accredited for the European football Championship are exempt from the quarantine obligation, even after arriving from an area impacted by a variant” Berlin said in a statement.

“This exemption concerns all the people who have been accredited by the organising committee for the preparation, participation, the holding and the follow-up of international sporting events,” it added.

The exemption does not include fans, who will be obliged to follow German government self-isolation rules.

Germany declared the UK a ‘virus variant area of concern’ on May 23rd due to rising cases linked to the Delta variant in parts of the country. 

READ ALSO: Germany makes UK ‘virus variant area of concern’: How does it affect you?

This reclassification came just seven days after the UK was put back on Germany’s list at the lowest risk level, and barely a month after it was taken off all risk lists completely.

The ban was put in place despite the UK’s relatively low Covid rates as a precautionary measure.

A general ban on entry is in place for people coming from countries on the ‘virus variant’ list – such as India and Brazil – the highest of Germany’s risk categories. 

There are some exceptions for entering from these countries – for example German residents and citizens. However, anyone who does enter from Germany is required to submit a Covid-19 test before boarding the flight and must quarantine for 14 days on arrival, regardless of whether they are fully vaccinated or not.

READ ALSO: Germany’s new relaxed quarantine and testing rules after travel

Euro 2020 starts on Friday as Italy host Turkey in Rome with the Bavarian city hosting three group games as well as the last-eight match.

Around 14,000 fans will be allowed into the Allianz Arena for the fixtures.