Germany coach Löw answers criticism, still convinced of path

BERLIN (AP) — Despite a 6-0 loss to Spain last month, Germany is “on the right path” and will return to form, coach Joachim Löw said Monday.

Löw held a press conference to address the team’s rocky situation after a lackluster Nations League campaign culminated with Germany’s heaviest defeat since 1931.

He made a vehement defense of his work and the team’s progress.

“We were all disappointed and angry with this game,” Löw said of the defeat in Seville. “The anger is still simmering inside me personally because we knew we had no quick possibility of correcting the result.”

Germany’s next game will not be until the next international break in March.

Löw said he and his coaching staff have already analyzed the loss to Spain and drawn lessons from it, while it was also discussed with the German soccer federation.

“We always question ourselves internally. We’re very, very self-critical,“ Löw said.

The coach’s public appearance came exactly one week after the federation said it was convinced that Löw should “unreservedly continue” with the team. It may also have been prompted by a news conference on Friday by Germany team director Oliver Bierhoff, which was subsequently criticized by Bayern Munich chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge.

“To be honest, there’s too much Oliver Bierhoff and too little Joachim Löw at the federation for me at the moment,” Rummenigge told Sky TV on Saturday. “If Bayern Munich plays badly, the coach has to go to the press conference and not the sporting director.”

Löw refuted the suggestion he was trying to avoid attention.

“Anyone who knows me knows I’m open for constructive criticism. And that I will face. That’s why I wondered a bit when you hear, ‘The Löw has dived under the water,’” Löw said.

Löw, who has been in charge since after the 2006 World Cup, said he has had setbacks over the years, and that he expected setbacks when he announced a fresh start for the team in 2019 after its disappointing World Cup defense the year before. Löw led Germany to the World Cup title in 2014.

“If you look beyond the Spain game, this young team is on the right path,” Löw said. “We’re sticking to our plan and are convinced that there is, was and will be a positive development. I’m convinced of it.”

He spoke of his anger that details of his meeting with federation officials last Monday were publicized, and said he made his annoyance known.

“There’s a danger of explosion with me if things make it outside that don’t belong outside,” said Löw, who added many of the details apparently leaked from private meetings he held with the officials were not true.

Löw has been in charge for 189 games and has a contract until after the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

Germany was given a relatively straightforward route to qualifying for the tournament in Monday’s draw, and will be expected to top Group J ahead of opponents Romania, Iceland, North Macedonia, Armenia and Liechtenstein.

But Löw first has the postponed European Championship next year.

“Our job now is to play our best possible tournament,” Löw said. “I’ve been to a few tournaments and know what can happen.”

Asked about the possible return of World Cup winners Thomas Müller, Mats Hummels and Jérôme Boateng — whom he dropped in March 2019 — Löw referred to the period before the World Cup in 2014, when veteran players also made way for younger ones, and said there was no reason now to recall the experienced trio. There have been calls to reinstate Müller in particular due to his good form for Bayern.

“I’ve no idea today how the situation will be in March. I hope all the players will come through the winter safely,” Löw said.

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More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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Ciarán Fahey on Twitter: https://twitter.com/cfaheyAP

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