Germany coach Joachim Loew before the international friendly match against Russia. Photo: REUTERS/Matthias Rietschel

BERLIN – Germany coach Joachim Loew said the team’s demise in 2018 was unexpected but part of a normal cycle in sport and he is now focussed on what the former world champions need to do to rise again.

Germany face the Netherlands today in their last Nations League group game, having already been relegated, and are looking to cap a terrible year with a good performance.

They started the year as reigning world champions and overwhelming favourites to retain the World Cup in Russia.

Yet they exited the tournament at their earliest stage in 80 years and are heading into 2019 after a German-record six defeats so far within a calendar year.

Another blow was delivered on Friday when the Dutch beat France to guarantee Germany’s relegation in the inaugural Nations League competition.

Germany face the Netherlands today in their last Nations League group game. Photo: Charles Platiau/Reuters
Germany face the Netherlands today in their last Nations League group game. Photo: Charles Platiau/Reuters

“We now want to say goodbye (to 2018) with a good performance and show the fans that we are on the right track to recovery,” Loew said. “We had a decade of rising to the top and there sometimes can be a year where nothing works,” said the German.

“It was something completely new for me. Now we have reached a phase where we have to renew things, improve, start from scratch.

“We need to draw the right conclusions and take the right measures.”

Loew started several youngsters in their 3-0 friendly win over Russia on Thursday, as he looks to gradually transform his team to depend less on the core of players who won the 2014 World Cup.

Today he will likely be without in-form winger Marco Reus, who is nursing a minor injury.

Reuters