Everyone said everything would turn out just fine. They said Germany are a Turniermannschaft, a tournament team. They said those friendly results did not matter. They said they’d be able to shake off the Mesut Ozil, Ilkay Gundogan controversy without a problem. They were wrong. An already difficult year for German football on Sunday became even more difficult.
The title holders lacked pretty much everything in their first match in Russia.
The false start against Mexico now sees the Nationalmannschaft under big pressure in their next group match against Sweden on Saturday. Will they become the third consecutive title holder to make an early exit from the tournament?
There are still two matches to be played. And for a few minutes in the second half, they showed some sort of resistance and willingness to prove that their “Best Never Rest” slogan is more than just a marketing stunt. Marco Reus, Ilkay Gundogan and maybe even Julian Brandt might be able to show their hunger in the upcoming matches. Manuel Neuer looked good coming off his injury.
There was no hunger, no desire to win the match. The midfield was one giant hole, completely controlled by the Mexicans. They were vulnerable to counter-attacks, and never found their own rhythm.
Manager rating out of 10
5 — Joachim Low had to replace Jonas Hector on short notice. Stuck to several of Germany’s World Cup winners from 2014 but they did not pay that decision back. Took the gamble to field Mesut Ozil, and was not rewarded. Gave Reus his World Cup debut after 60 minutes, maybe 60 minutes too late. Has become vulnerable.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Manuel Neuer, 6 — The defeat wasn’t the goalkeeper’s fault. Out injured for most of the season, Neuer couldn’t be faulted here, looking healthy and showing his trademark confidence in coming way out of his box to play the ball.
DF Joshua Kimmich, 5 — Was caught out of position at the back numerous times in the first 45 minutes. Playing even higher up then at Bayern Munich, there was not a lot of protection for him at the back. Was still strong going forward but his crosses rarely found Timo Werner. Good scissor kick to signal Germany’s strongest phase 25 minutes from time.
DF Jerome Boateng, 4 — Coming off an injury, Boateng cleared early on with a brilliant sliding tackle. But his long balls lacked timing and his runs into the opponent’s half ended soon enough.
DF Mats Hummels, 4 — Was lucky to escape without a booking when dragging down Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez after 70 minutes. Had a good shot at the Mexican goal in the opening minutes but not as commanding as in recent years. Slipped in a high position for Chicharito to start the play for the sole goal of the day.
DF Marvin Plattenhardt, 4 — The Hertha Berlin left-back replaced Jonas Hector, who missed the match with an illness. Known for his crosses and set pieces, made his first cross after 45 minutes and did not take any of Germany’s set pieces.
MF Sami Khedira, 3 — Lacked creativity. Was not able to stop counter-attacks. Walked off the pitch after 60 minutes and watched Germany’s best phase from the bench.
MF Toni Kroos, 5 — Most shots for German but they all came from distance. He was not able to dominate the match and was taken out of the game by Mexico’s midfield. Sent a free kick off the crossbar which was Germany’s best chance for a goal on the day.
MF Thomas Muller, 3 — On 33 minutes, Muller ran through midfield and lost the ball on the counter, completely unaware of the opposition. With 10 combined goals at the two World Cups, he must step up his game to score his 11th.
MF Mesut Ozil, 5 — Got the nod ahead of Reus despite the recent controversy surrounding the photo taken with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Has now started every World Cup and European Championship match since getting his first invitation to a tournament back in 2010. Did not pay back the manager’s trust here and.was largely invisible. Tried to swerve around the box and had a few decent passes. Looked more motivated than others. Hoped to avoid a penalty in the build up to Lozano’s first-half strike.
MF Julian Draxler, 6 — Not to be seen in the first half, Draxler was at least trying to be dangerous during the final minutes. The PSG man, like the rest of Die Mannschaft, can do better.
FW Timo Werner, 4 — The World Cup debutant got into the match pretty well as he picked up Kimmich passes. But all but disappeared as the match wore on.
MF Marco Reus, 7 — Did not start but made his World Cup debut after 60 minutes with Germany down 1-0. The Dortmund man’s entrance made the match more lively for a couple of minutes. The 29-year-old could be one of the player’s to turn Germany’s fortunes around.
FW Mario Gomez, NR — A 12-minute cameo for the veteran attacker, who had one chance with his head.
MF Julian Brandt, NR — Came close with a fizzing shot in the dying seconds of the match that grazed the outside of the post.
Stephan Uersfeld is the Germany correspondent for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @uersfeld.