For the vast majority of football teams, a winning scoreline of 4-0 would be considered a very respectable result but for Germany manager Joachim Low, such an emphatic victory was viewed with intense disappointment. Having just watched his World Cup winning team comfortably beat minnows Gibraltar in Group D of the Euro 2016 qualifiers, Low was annoyed that more goals had not been scored especially as seven had been netted against Brazil in July.
The tie between Germany and Gibraltar had been declared as one the great mismatches of European football with the latter entering their initial competitive competition as a first class nation. In three previous games within the group, Gibraltar had conceded 17 and failed to score a goal in three losing matches and a rather embarrassing score was predicted for their contest in Nuremberg.
Although Germany did not field their strongest team, Thomas Muller, Mario Gotze and Toni Kroos were included in a team which should have accounted for their opponents with the minimum of fuss. In claiming a 3-0 half-time lead, the Germans were expected to more than double their advantage and add to a goal difference which could eventually prove crucial at the end of the group stages.
For Gibraltar, the eventual 4-0 losing scoreline was deemed a victory as they had conceded less goals than Brazil and restricted their opponents to a solitary own goal during a brave second half display. Lone attacker Liam Walker, who plays for Lincoln Red Imps on the Gibraltar rock, even managed to test German ‘keeper Manuel Neuer in a rare first half excursion into the opponents half of the field.
Compared to the German equivalent, the composition of the Gibraltar squad offered little experience, if any, of Premier League, Bundesliga or other top European league action. Adam Priestley, who appeared as a 91st minute substitute for Gibraltar, plays regular football for Farsley AFC, a team residing in the Northern Premier League Division One North which is among those leagues occupying the eighth tier of the English football pyramid. When not playing football and training twice per week, Priestley is a physical education teacher in a local Leeds school.
It may the case that Gibraltar could fail to register a single point or goal in their six remaining matches in this group and there will continue to be arguments as to whether they can claim to be viable opposition at such a stage in the Euro 2016 qualifiers.
However, a 4-0 defeat to the World Champions is by no means a disgrace even allowing for the fact that Germany may not have played in top gear for most of the second half. It will also probably be a match for which the Gibraltar players will remember for the rest of their lives although the football purists may contend that they should not have been afforded such an opportunity.