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Löw's attacking surprise papers over defensive cracks

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The absence of Marco Reus and Timo Werner from Germany’s starting eleven – the former out with a thigh strain, the latter with a loss of confidence – caused a fair amount of team sheet bewilderment ahead of kick-off. No strikers against arguably the best central defensive partnership in international football certainly seemed a bold way to kick off the latest new era.

As it happened, Löw actually went with two in attack, with Leroy Sane and Serge Gnabry deployed as a pair of waspish false nines. It worked perfectly, too, as the Dutch struggled to cope with the unorthodox movement of two players whose natural instinct is to drift wide.

Both Sane and Gnabry scored before half-time, as Germany made a blistering start to the match. Sane's was a classic poacher’s goal, spanking home from close range after finding himself alone in the box, while Gnabry did his best Arjen Robben impression to smash a vicious drive into the far corner after cutting inside none other than Virgil van Dijk.

It was an excellent attacking performance from Löw’s team, particulary in the opening 45 minutes, and one which has given the 59-year old genuine food for thought. Timo Werner is evidently uncomfortable leading the line alone for his country. The future could lie in switching to a front two on a permanent basis, with Werner either incorporated or left out altogether.

Before we get too ahead of ourselves, this was far from a great performance when taking the entire team into account. Löw’s decision to retire Matts Hummels and Jerome Boateng is beginning to look like a daft one, as Germany once again struggled defensively. Antonio Rüdiger and Matthias Ginter are fine players at club level but appear a way off the grade........

© Deutsche Welle