Joachim Low Will Lose the Germany Job Unless He Recalls Thomas Muller & the Old Guard
International football is a weird beast.
Rarely do national sides win back to back tournaments on the global stage, and often World Cup wins are the result of long, arduous processes by countries looking to re-establish themselves at the top of the game.
One such side was Germany. They had made the final in 2002, being beaten by Ronaldo's Brazil, before things fell away spectacularly in the following tournament, Euro 2004.
Then managed by Rudi Voller, a side consisting of players like Oliver Kahn, Philipp Lahm, Dietmar Hamann and Michael Ballack was knocked out in the group stages, drawing twice and losing a crucial decider against the Czech Republic.
Jurgen Klinsmann came in and got Germany going again at the 2006 World Cup, with Bastian Schweinsteiger, Miroslav Klose and Lukas Podolski showing there was reason for cautious optimism, before Joachim Low arrived.
Good showings at Euro 2008, the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012 followed, before Low's finest moment in 2014.
After dispatching Brazil 7-1 in the semi finals in what was the tournament's most iconic game, Germany beat Argentina in the 2014 World Cup final courtesy of Mario Gotze's extra-time winner.
It felt like the cycle had finished. Living legends like Lahm and Klose retired, while Schweinsteiger would only last one more international tournament. If there was time for another reset, it was after that World Cup.
It shouldn't be now. There was little need for Low to freeze out players like Thomas Muller - who always delivered for his country on the grandest stage - Jerome Boateng and Mats Hummels when he did, especially when one of those is playing the best football of his career.
As we all know, Muller had what was probably his best season ever at Bayern Munich last term as they romped to the Bundesliga title and the Champions League. His strengths in creating chances and exploiting spaces left by opposition defenders are strengths that should never be overlooked on the international scene.
Low has dug himself a hole by leaving the likes of Muller, Boateng and Hummels out in the cold, and now their absence is affecting the German side detrimentally.
Germany have lost that aura of intimidating class they had back in 2014. They reached the semi finals at Euro 2016 but were knocked out in the group stages of the 2018 World Cup - their worst ever result in that competition - after losing to South Korea in their final game.
This year, they've won just one of their five matches - that being a 2-1 victory over Ukraine. Draws against Spain and Switzerland don't read terribly, but their second draw with the Swiss - in which they went 2-0 down before salvaging a 3-3 result - is alarming.
Sure, Die Mannschaft have plenty of exciting players like Serge Gnabry, Timo Werner and Kai Havertz, but they look weak. The omissions in defence look strange given Antonio Rudiger and Matthias Ginter are getting games, while it seems odd that Toni Kroos - as marvellous a player as he is - is still in the squad while Muller is left out in the cold.
Germany will head into Euro 2020 next year as one of the favourites, but right now they are little more than their prestigious name. Sticking by these omissions that so obviously harm the side's chances of further glory just seems baffling.
The sooner that U-turn comes, if it ever does, the better.