As the highest ranked team at the time of the draw, Germany were placed in Group 1 of League A (Group A1). France were then from drawn pot ranked 5-8, and the Netherlands from the pot ranked 9-12. The Nationalmannschaft would kick off the league phase of the tournament on 6th September 2018, in Munich against new World Champions France.
The four-game campaign started out with a rather unlucky goalless draw against the French, but any hopes of an immediate post-Summer revival fell flat with a disappointing 3-0 defeat in the Netherlands, Germany’s biggest defeat against their neighbours and longtime rivals.
A far better performance against Les Bleus in Paris was not matched by the result, and before their final match against the Dutch Jogi Löw’s team had already been doomed to relegation from the top stream. In what was a fitting end to a disappointing year, a bright and rejuvenated Germany started well only to throw everything away in the last five minutes as the Oranje fought back to snatch a 2-2 draw.
Match Results and Details
v France, Allianz Arena, München, 06.09.2018
Team: Neuer (c) – Ginter, Boateng, Hummels, Rüdiger – Kimmich – Goretzka (66. Gündoğan), Kroos – Müller, Reus (83. Sané) – Werner
v Netherlands, Johan Cruyff Arena, Amsterdam, 13.10.2018
Team: Neuer (c) – Ginter, Boateng, Hummels, Hector – Kimmich – Can (57. Draxler), Kroos – Müller (57. Sané), Werner – Uth* (68. Brandt)
0-1 From a Memphis Depay corner, Dutch striker Ryan Babel beat Jonas Hector in the air. Babel’s crashes against the underside of the crossbar, and Manuel Neuer is hopelessly out of position. The German ‘keeper gets back up quickly, but can only flap at the ball as Oranje skipper Virgil van Dijk is first to the rebound to head the hosts in front.
0-2 Sub Julian Draxler needlessly gives the ball away, and the home side quickly make their way into the German half. Mats Hummels is out of position, and sub Quincy Promes picks out Depay. Neuer attempts to close down the Dutch striker, but Depay bundles the ball into the back of the net through the legs of the ‘keeper.
0-3 Deep into additional time, Draxler gives the ball away again. Georginio Wijnaldum executes the perfect finish after collecting Daley Blind’s pass, drilling the ball past Neuer and into the bottom left-hand corner after dancing with embarrassing ease past a static Jérôme Boateng.
v France, Stade de France, Saint-Denis, 16.10.2018
Team: Neuer (c) – Kehrer, Süle, Hummels – Ginter (83. Brandt), Schulz – Kimmich, Kroos – Gnabry (88. Müller), Werner, Sané (75. Draxler)
1-0 After harsh call against Presnel Kimpembe for handball as he attempts to block a cross from Leroy Sané, Germany are awarded a penalty. Toni Kroos steps up, and looks to guide the ball into the bottom right-hand corner with his right foot. It is just about good enough. French ‘keeper Hugo Lloris gets a hand to it, but can only help into into the net.
1-1 Paul Pogba finds Lucas Hernández to his left, and Antoine Griezmann is waiting by the penalty spot to meet the cross. His header looks almost impossible, but is perfectly guided with a well-timed flick into the top right hand corner. Manuel Neuer flies high to his left, but is left clutching at thin air.
1-2 Mats Hummels is penalised in the box for a challenge on Blaise Matuidi, after the Frenchman seems to trip over his own feet before actually treading on the defender’s foot on the way down. Griezmann strokes the ball into the right side of the net, as Neuer dives he wrong way.
v Netherlands, Veltins-Arena, Gelsenkirchen, 19.11.2018
Team: Neuer (c) – Rüdiger, Süle, Hummels – Kehrer, Kimmich, Kroos, Schulz – Werner (63. Reus), Gnabry (66. Müller), Sané (80. Goretzka)
1-0 After Mats Hummels initiates a break from inside his own half, Toni Kroos finds Serge Gnabry whose first touch reaches Timo Werner. Werner nods the ball on into space before firing a lovely right-footed shot on the half-volley from just over twenty yards out. Dutch ‘keeper Jasper Cillessen cannot get there is caught flat-footed as the ball flies to his right and nestles in the bottom left-hand corner of the net.
2-0 Hummels gets things moving from the back, and Kroos plays a lovely pass over the top of the orange shirts for Sané to chase. The fast-moving winger gets there first, and controls the ball despite a poor first touch. He fires in a left-footed shot, which takes a deflection of Kenny Tete into the bottom right-hand corner past Cillessen.
2-1 Under pressure, the German defence are unable to get the ball out of their own penalty area. They try to play the ball out from the back rather than whack the ball away, and substitute Leon Goretzka is caught in possession. Quincy Promes finds the space he needs, and curls the ball into the top right-hand corner with his right foot past Manuel Neuer, who cannot get near it.
2-2 Germany are again unable to get out of their own half, and the Dutch attack again. Substitute Tonny Vilhena sends the ball into the German box from the right, Luuk de Jong nods it on, and Virgil van Dijk, lurking at the far post, thumps it past Neuer on the volley from just outside the six-yard box.
League Phase Group A1 Table
Other Results: France 2-1 Netherlands, Netherlands 2-0 France.
Goals Summary: Kroos, Sané, Werner (1). Total 3.