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Sunday, 18 June, 2000, 16:33 GMT 17:33 UK
Future bleak for Germany
Carsten Jancker
Carsten Jancker sums up the German mood
BBC Sport Online's Tom Fordyce examines what the future holds for Germany after their rare defeat at the hands of England.

It might feel different having the boot on the other foot, but no-one in England is complaining it's uncomfortable.

A win over the Germans, plus a scorching Sunday on which to recover from post-match hangovers, has left the nation in a happier mood than for many months.

Not so in Germany.

We are wallowing in grey mediocrity

Bild am Sonntag newspaper
Even before Euro 2000 began, despair hung heavy in the air. Now, with the national team close to elimination, the inquest has begun in force.

While England fans basked in the sunshine and plaudits that followed a nerve-wracking yet ultimately deserved victory, Germans began to analyse their side's deficiences.

National newspaper Bild am Sonntag could barely believe what had transpired. "It's over?" asked their first headline.

Germany cries

A few hours later, and the events in Charleroi had begun to sink in. "Germany cries," sobbed the front page.

"Let's look at the evidence: we are wallowing in grey mediocrity."

More impartial observers might add that the entire game seldom strayed far from grey mediocrity - but just as the revellers in the streets of Britain glossed over the weaker aspects of England's display, so the Germans looked everywhere and saw only doom and gloom.

Lothar Matthaus
Matthaus: waving goodbye to Euro 2000?
"Everything's almost lost," lamented Welt am Sonntag. "For the weak Germans only a slim hope remains."


Cologne tabloid Express kept it simple. No need for comparisons to root vegetables were deemed necessary. "Oh no!" it bellowed, in perfect English.

"Only a footballing miracle can help us reach the quarter-finals," the paper concluded, switching back to native tongue but remaining as bleak as a Bavarian hillside in early January.

In the short term, the future indeed looks grim. Germany need Romania to beat England, and at the same time beat Portugal by a bigger margin.

Not impossible, but on form so far this tournament - one goal from two games, main striker and skipper Bierhoff out, the equivalent of Bryan Robson playing as an advanced sweeper - you fancy them only slightly more than you do Helmet Kohl.

And the future?

Despite what the ads may say, the future's not orange but bleu.

Lightening-fast strikers

Forget the Dutch. It is the way that France play their football, with two lightning-fast young strikers, a midfield where each player can pass, dribble and defend with ease and a personnel who can switch formation from 4-4-2 to 4-5-1 or 3-5-2 as the occasion demands that provide the standard to which Germany can aspire.

At the moment, they are a long way off. Virtually the only young player who has shown any promise is Hertha Berlin's Sebastian Deisler.

Sebastian Deisler
Sebastian Deisler: unable to dominate Phil Neville
And we are talking here about someone who was subdued without too much bother by Phil Neville. That's right. Phil Neville.

If the future of the national team is unable to beat a Premiership reserve defender who has few fans even in his home town, you could be forgiven for thinking the future was not worth bothering with at all.

Paul Breitner, World Cup winner in 1974 and scorer in the defeat in the 1982 final, was in no doubt over the best course of action to take over the next few days.

Writing in Bild am Sonntag, the staunchly Marxist defender (somehow you can't imagine saying that about many British players) went in studs-up.

"Pack your bags," he grumbled.

"I don't in principle believe in miracles, and certainly not in this case."

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See also:

18 Jun 00 | Germany
Ribbeck hints he might step down
17 Jun 00 | Euro2000
England beat Germany - at last
17 Jun 00 | Photo Gallery
England v Germany in pictures
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