It may have been due to a hangover from their World Cup success, complacency or just good play by their opponents but whatever the reason for Germany’s 2-0 defeat by Poland on Saturday evening, the result has most certainly enlivened Group D of the Euro 2016 qualifiers.
Poland have never previously beaten Germany in competition and besides being the first defeat on 19 competitive games for the Germans, the loss also ended a sequence of 33 qualifiers without defeat since 2007. Goals by Arkadiusz Milik and Sebastian Mila ensured that the Poles followed their 7-0 victory against Gibraltar with another three points but this loss must also be a cause of concern for Joachim Low’s team after their lack-lustre performance when narrowly beating Scotland 2-1.
Germany are still expected to qualify from Group D as first and second will be guaranteed a place in the finals being stage in France but the World Cup winners will now realise that they are not unbeatable and they must soon rediscover their winning mentality and the form which destroyed Brazil 7-1 in that epic semi-final.
It also true that Low did not field a full strength German team in Poland and their two recent poor showings have also been characterised by the injury absence of midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger. The Bayern Munich midfielder was one of the more instrumental forces in Brazil with his energetic displays and encouragement to other team members and his know-how and zest have been missed since the World Cup.
There was a lack of sharpness in the German display on Saturday with several chances being wasted as they dominated possession but the Poles resilience could not be faulted on a memorable evening for the home fans.
Yet it may be the current qualifying criteria of the first two in each group which is helping to create the early lack of urgency among some of the leading European teams. Spain were similarly shocked at the weekend when succumbing to a 2-1 defeat in Slovakia and despite the expected comfortable 4-0 victory against Luxembourg on Sunday evening, inquests into the competency of the current Spanish squad have already begun.
If it is simply a case that some leading teams are guilty of taking matters for granted, then these early defeats are not just a wake-up call but also a means of generating such much needed interest in what appeared to be a fairly mundane set of European qualifying groups.
These results will also offer encouragement to their group competitors who can follow the lead of both Poland and Slovakia in approaching games against seemingly unbeatable opponents with renewed confidence.
Germany may also wish to impose their superiority on Group D from this moment onwards but that will also depend on the required reaction from this unlikely defeat in Poland.
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