Loew a fighter but North Macedonia loss a final wake-up call, says Lehmann
- Terming the loss as a final wake-up call for long-serving head coach Joachim Loew, who will be leaving his position at the end of the Euros this summer, Lehmann compared the current narrative around the team to the one ahead of the 2006 World Cup, when the tournament was being hosted by Germany.
Germany’s 2-1 defeat at the hands of North Macedonia in a World Cup qualifier in Duisburg on Wednesday night may have sent shockwaves through the football world but according to former Die Mannschaft goalkeeper Jens Lehmann, it isn’t time to panic yet.
Terming the loss as a final wake-up call for long-serving head coach Joachim Loew, who will be leaving his position at the end of the Euros this summer, Lehmann compared the current narrative around the team to the one ahead of the 2006 World Cup, when the tournament was being hosted by Germany.
“I remember we lost 4-1 to Italy ahead of the World Cup in 2006. The German parliament actually tried to call Juergen Klinsmann to ask him about our chances and what he could change (about the team) because people didn’t want to suffer embarrassment at our own World Cup. This situation is a little bit comparable. I think Joachim Loew must be very disappointed.
“But I know him; he can fight. He will try to show people that this is not the face of the German national team. He can get angry about it. So it’s probably the last wake-up call before he will play the last tournament,” Lehmann told reporters in a video interaction ahead of this weekend’s top-of-the-table Bundesliga clash between Bayern Munich and RB Leipzig.
“They have played quite good in the last two games (3-0 win over Iceland and 1-0 win over Romania) and they have just missed out on scoring goals. Yesterday was a setback against North Macedonia,” he said. “I did not even know before that there was a team from North Macedonia. I thought it was just Macedonia. So I learnt something at least for my geography,” joked the former Arsenal star, who was Germany’s first-choice keeper at the 2006 World Cup and the 2008 Euros.
Speaking about Saturday’s evening kick-off in the Bundesliga, where second-placed Leipzig host leaders Bayern with four points separating them, Lehmann said it was a good chance for the former to close the gap after an injury ruled Bayern star Robert Lewandowski out for a month. “I think Bayern don’t need to win this game; a draw will be okay for them,” he said.
“They (Leipzig) are remarkable. They have a very, very good defensive record; unfortunately, not in the big games. In the big games, they make mistakes. I hope that will not be the case on Saturday because it will be great for the Bundesliga for them to keep up with Bayern – to go just within one point. It will make Bayern a little nervous, given the situation with Lewandowski,” added Lehmann.
“I still think they (Bayern) are the best team and they are experienced enough to win these kind of games.”
Lehmann said Lewandowski’s absence could hurt Bayern in their Champions League title defence as well, with the Bavarians hosting last season’s runners-up Paris Saint-Germain in the first leg of the quarter-finals four days after the Leipzig game.
“They (Bayern and PSG) know each other from the final last year. The disadvantage to Bayern is that Lewandowski cannot play. And Paris are in a run of consecutive games; they have got rhythm. Last year in the Champions League final, you could feel in the end that physically they were not at Bayern Munich’s level. This may have changed now but we will see,” he explained, referring to PSG playing the final stages of the Champions League last season after a long pandemic-induced break.
Lehmann said his former club Borussia Dortmund, who are the other remaining German side in the quarters of the competition, will have their task cut out against Manchester City. “It’s very difficult because City are a great team and they have momentum. With Dortmund, sometimes you can’t predict their performances. It’s a typical characteristic of a young team,” he said.