Why Joachim Loew Is Under the Most Pressure for Germany at the World Cup

Stefan Bienkowski@@SbienkowskiFeatured ColumnistMarch 28, 2014

Germany's soccer team manager Joachim Loew looks up during a press conference at a hotel in London, Monday, Nov. 18, 2013. Germany will play England in an international friendly soccer match at Wembley Stadium on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
Kirsty Wigglesworth/Associated Press

With the Bundesliga title all wrapped up with unprecedented precision so early in the season, we now turn our attention not to the coming Champions League quarter-finals but the World Cup this summer and how Germany look ahead of this important competition.

What comes before the actual tournament is the bickering and constant debate over who should be crowned favourites before the likely scenario that someone else is then crowned champions. Germany are among the leading pack for both, but just how strong is their demand for such attention?

Spain's Confederations Cup defeat to Brazil last year was an important moment in the direction in which both teams seem to be heading in at the moment, as Vicente del Bosque's side look far from their excellent self. While Luiz Felipe Scolari's own team seem to be building momentum by the day ahead of the World Cup in their own back yard.

Kirsty Wigglesworth/Associated Press

Where Germany fall is somewhere in between that, as a side who should be pushing for victory at all costs but like Spain don't seem to have the kind of momentum or morale that Brazil carry themselves on at the moment. 

Yet what's unique about Die Mannschaft is the simple fact that they must win this coming World Cup if they wish to avoid any claims that this current generation simply aren't up to the task. Too long has Germany gone without international success, and at the front of such criticism is coach Joachim Loew. The man under more pressure than any other to get it right this summer. 

Yet such tension is arguably quite justifiable when it comes to Loew's handling of the national team over the past eight years. 

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The most notable and consistent aspect of Loew's time at Germany is undoubtedly the way in which his sides have failed to match other top teams around the world on the tactics board, despite having players who can go toe-to-toe with the best. 

For the real chink in Loew's armour is his incredibly inability to come up with his own, original style of play or tactics to better Germany in any manner at all. Each year the national team grows older, with new players coming in, yet the coach still relies far too heavily on the fat of Bayern and Dortmund's land for talent and ideas. 

The most notable example of this, of course, is the case of Bastian Schweinsteiger, whose rapid evolution as a player between 2009 and 2010 turned him from an average winger into a league-leading central midfielder under Louis van Gaal. That was at the end of 2009, by March 2010 Loew had already followed suit and forced the player into his central midfield. 

Frank Rumpenhorst/Associated Press

Of course such patterns are just as prevalent today: Philipp Lahm's move into midfield for Bayern swiftly copied at the national team; Mario Goetze's role as a false striker for Bayern quickly converted over to Germany; and even Andre Schurrle's advanced striking position at Chelsea is beginning to rub off on the Bundestrainer. 

It's not that such moves are a bad thing, but it shows Loew up as a manager who isn't very particular about his own style. Whichever way the wind is blowing is the direction he and his tactics go, and for many fans that isn't a good policy if you want to win a World Cup. 

Which, of course, is what this is all about and exactly why the pressure and burden of such expectation will fall upon the German manager more so than anyone else associated with the squad. 

The nation has come a long way since its malaise in the early 90s yet the focus on success, that former sides were able to harness so well, is something that this team seem destined to choke on rather than actually embrace. 

If Germany don't win this coming competition in the heat of Brazil this summer, they will enter a period that will overtake any prolonged absence from World Cup victories since the tournament was introduced in 1930. Quite simply; this nation has never gone any longer than 24 years between one trophy establishing them as the greatest in the world and the next. That is what hangs over Loew's head between now and July, and it could potentially become his unwelcomed legacy as coach. 

What makes matters worse is the fact that this squad is just full of international, world-leading talent that should be in a perfect position to overcome any team in the world. The means are most certainly there, but the leadership or coaching seem to be what has let them down time and time again. 

It's a prominent fear that what we see before us right now is a German side that does not embody any given world champions or the favourites to become one, but a team that seems to offer no more than the proverbial nearly-men of international football. 

Like Spain before their christening Euro 2008 victory, Germany could continue wandering along the uncertain path of producing world-class talent each year and consequently earning the right to call themselves favourites for each competition only to stumble at the final hurdle.

This is what we've seen in each of the three tournaments that Loew has led this side into, and it's the country's greatest fear ahead of this summer's competition.

Will Germany overcome such mental constraints, or are they destined to fail at every opportunity? That is a question only Loew can answer and why he is under the most pressure for Germany at the World Cup.