By Oliver Trust
BERLIN, June 16 (Xinhua) -- A satisfying farewell for departing German coach Joachim Loew is in danger after a defeat in the 2014 world champions' group opener against France (1-0).
To beat 2016 European champion Portugal, this Saturday has turned into a must for Germany to avoid the next disappointing major following the early group exit at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
While a change of tactics and the game approach seem inevitable, the hurriedly assembled squad delivered a ray of hope as fans witnessed a strong team spirit.
DOWNGRADE TO BELOW TOP LEVEL
Facing 2018 world champion France in its group opener, Germany has found its master. Other teams might follow during the Pan-European UEFA 2020 EURO as French football can count on a wide range of exceptional players.
Since Germany climbed to football's summit in 2014 in Brazil, things have changed as head coach Loew failed to shape a team of successors to continue the successful journey.
Seven years later, Germany has lost contact with the world's top-level due to a rejuvenation process but regained a promising team spirit.
No matter how Germany can run its second group encounter against Portugal this Saturday, it will be the most pressing task for Low's successor Hansi Flick to initiate a new era. A new face for the national team on the road to the 2024 tournament hosted by Germany is needed.
Instead of uncompromisingly counting on his team's advantages, Loew aligned tactics to the opponent's qualities.
In a short-term action, he recalled experienced Mats Hummels and Thomas Mueller, two 2014 world champions, disregarded over the past two years, to stabilize his struggling side.
Intending to secure as much success as possible in an emergency move, Loew admitted things went wrong over the past years.
The German coach hasn't been a lucky beggar regarding his tactics in several major events. His achievements in 193 games in charge (122 wins, 38 draws, 33 defeats) deserve respect.
But his 15-year-long era will be seen in the light of a disappointing 2018 World Cup and the outcome of this year's major.
Failing at the UEFA 2020 EURO, Loew's era will be overcast by a dark shadow. Creativity and encouragement might be a solution as Leroy Sane and Leon Goretzka seem ready to join in.
The Germans might have failed to challenge overpowering France, but, other than in Russia, delivered an improved team spirit. Approaching their borders, "Die Mannschaft" satisfied fans' demand to act as a true team.
The current German team's mission seems nothing less than to fight back and deliver an honorable performance. The clash against Portugal will decide how far things might go.
After Loew, a substantial renovation process seems inevitable as established forces such as Hummels, Mueller, and Toni Kroos might retire.
Own goal scorer Hummels said he is devastated about his misfortune and feels deep pain but told fans: "We have invested all we had. We know we can do better. But one could see we tear ourselves apart in this tournament to excite you again and create success."