Hunker down — Low to team

Says it has to turn the page on its mediocre campaign so far

Germany head coach Joachim Low has told his stars to knuckle down and take control of their Nations League group, starting against Ukraine on Saturday, after three draws and just one win in their mediocre campaign so far.

The three-time European champion hosts Ukraine in Leipzig on Saturday, then faces Spain in Seville on Tuesday. Victories in both of its final two Nations League games would see Germany win the group.

“We must definitely use both games, and our matches in March, to find our game and establish ourselves,” said Low, with one eye on next June’s Euro 2020 finals.

Squeezing past

Germany squeezed past a determined Ukraine side with a 2-1 win in Kiev last month.

Both Germany and Ukraine are level on six points, one behind group leader Spain, which faces bottom side Switzerland in Basel on Saturday.

Low is wary of a dogged Ukrainian side coached by former Chelsea striker Andriy Shevchenko, which has already beaten Spain and Switzerland in the group.

“We will have to overcome a lot of resistance and have extremely good solutions ready if we want to hold our own against Ukraine,” Low said on Friday.

Defensive problems

Germany is unbeaten in its last 11 games, but the statistic masks defensive problems, exposed by last month’s 3-3 draws against both Switzerland and in a friendly with Turkey.

In its Nations League games so far, Germany surrendered the lead three times to draw with Spain and twice against the Swiss.

Bayern Munich wingers Serge Gnarby and Leroy Sane are set to play either side of Chelsea striker Timo Werner.

Manuel Neuer captains the side and will equal Sepp Maier’s Germany record of 95 appearances for a goalkeeper.

With Real Madrid midfielder Toni Kroos suspended, Leon Goretzka is set to partner Ilkay Gundogan in the defensive midfield.

Despite this season’s congested fixture list due to the coronavirus pandemic, Low says he sees the value of the Nations League and is demanding two final performances.

“The competition has a certain importance and if we beat Ukraine, we would be in a good position” before the final match against Spain, added Low.

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