GELSENKIRCHEN, Germany (AP) – Finally, the year ended for Germany.
World Cup owners in 2014, who failed to break out of the group stage in this year's tournament in Russia, ended their disappointing campaign with turbulence and admitted two late goals in the match against the Netherlands.
Even before the match began, Germany was already retired from the top level of the UEFA League.
"This was a reflection in 2018," German President Timo Werner announced on the team's later collapse against the Netherlands. "You've seen it work, but we could not get a reward, and we need to get back in 2018, and we'll do better next year."
Germany began this year in the hope of defending the title of its World Cup. But early losses to Mexico and South Korea have sent four-time home champions ahead of schedule. Mesut Ozil soon left the national team when quoting "racism and disrespect" of German society for his Turkish roots.
Few coaches could survive this year, but Joachim Loew is not a regular coach.
Loew has been leading since 2006 and has formed a player career such as Thomas Mueller, who was 100 on Monday – all under Loew.
He was also lucky to sign a four-year contract renewal in May, a month before the World Cup debacle, focusing on the 2020 European Championship despite the Loew out banner on Monday's stages.
Loew called 2018 "slap in the face," but said Germany would soon see the benefits of rebuilding the World Cup. The key to that, he said, will be Leroy Sane, the player who left the World Cup team, even though the Premier League has been named a young player of the year.
"Leroy has learned a lot that he will not be nominated for the World Cup," Loew said. "We can not reassemble the team overnight."
There is no doubt that Germany has a depth after winning the Confederations Cup in 2017 and the European Championship under 21 in the same week. The current problem is to improve this group of players into a coherent team.
Sometimes on Monday, Germany looked like its old self, with Werner, Sane, and Serge Gnabra, who combined both goals. Loew, however, used all three of his substitutes to replace Mueller, Mark Reus and Leon Goretzk.
Without the hind legs, Dutch goaltenders Quincy Promes and Virgil van Dijk failed to defend.
Loew said he had not found a preferred set yet.
"It's a long process, and I'm not a clairvoyant, and I do not know what happens in March (when it starts qualifying for the European Championship)," Loew said in comments published by the German Federation of Football Federations. "We have a lot of potential and it gives you a lot of courage for next year."