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Loew to rely on youngsters after last-gasp win over Sweden   

By Oliver Trust BERLIN Germany (Xinhua) -- Relief couldn’t have been any greater after Toni Kroos struck in stoppage time to give Germany a 2-1 win against Sweden which kept their chances alive of progressing to the last 16. The 29-year-old midfielder is one of the heroes of the 2014 World Cup win that coach Joachim Loew has been relying on. Things however now seem to have changed as the apparently untouchable reigning champions are no longer guaranteed a place in the team. From now the big names will have to battle with the squad members to stay in the starting eleven.

While Loew is hoping for a motivation boost after the side’s first victory, the team itself is suffering from the ups and downs in form of his key performers.

While four-time European Champions League winner Kroos was Germany’s life-saver against Sweden, the midfielder also seems to be part of the team’s current problems. All of Germany’s first team regulars are disappointing Loew.

The coach’s experienced players like Sami Khedira (Juventus), Mesut Oezil (Arsenal), Kroos, Jerome Boateng, Mats Hummels and Thomas Mueller (all Bayern Munich) have so far failed to come up with the goods.

Not firing on all cylinders, the experienced players are currently turning the German team into a wavering giant on leaden feet.

It sounds weird but the narrow win against Sweden might be the needed turning point for the struggling German side. The game showed there is still a great determination in the squad but Loew needs to consider picking reserves like Sebastian Rudy, Marco Reus, Mario Gomez and Julian Brandt. “We believed in the quality of our entire squad,” Loew commented.

It seems as if the successful era of the world champions as the team’s only source of energy has come to an end.

Thomas Mueller said the victory against Sweden was special. “We have butterflies now as we know we have the chance to gradually build up full steam.” The striker assumed: “Everything is now possible, from the worst case to the best.”

But why is Germany stuttering? Media, pundits, and fans are puzzling over the reasons, which seem diverse.

The Sueddeutsche newspaper wrote about a mystery as “Mueller is still trying to find a right place in the German game.” At the 2010 and 2014 World Cups, the Munich player was one of Germany’s heroes. In 2018, he seems to have lost faith and confidence.

Other media are debating about the lack of consistency amongst what is called the “team’s axis” starting with goalkeeper Manuel Neuer continuing with the central defense with Hummels and Boateng, the midfield with Kroos and Khedira and Mueller up front.

Oezil, Khedira, Hummels, Boateng and Mueller are searching for the form of the glory days, wrote several German media. They accuse Loew of not having put them under enough pressure to generate new motivation. Despite having talented many youngsters, Loew has favored his established forces when selecting his starting eleven.

Against Sweden, Loew failed to turn around things to perfection but has started to make changes in his player policy. The coach replaced Oezil and Khedira - both played poorly against Mexico  with Rudy and Marco Reus. Other team leaders like Boateng, Kroos and Mueller still performed below par.

Some pundits explained away the problems of the team’s leaders with disappointing club results domestically and in Europe. Mueller, Hummels, Boateng, Sebastian Rudy and Joshua Kimmich all lost the German Cup final and failed to reach the Champions League final.

“Bayern’s broken treble dreams become a burden,” the wrote “Die Welt”. The paper singled out Joshua Kimmich and Mueller admitting the disappointing season still is a burden. “It feels like someone has pulled out the plug,” said Mueller. His teammate said he couldn’t get the poor season out of his head.

Neuer seems the only surprise when it comes to established players despite his eight-month injury break due to a broken foot. “The key performers need to take responsibility and improve,” Neuer said.

Neuer’s statement seems to indicate that other 2014 World Cup heroes have to catch up despite having won the trophy four years ago. In advance of the decisive group match against South Korea this Wednesday, it looks like as if the German squad has to open a new era if they are to be serious contenders for a second title in a row.

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UPDATE:

German midfielder Tony Kroos: We won’t go home easily

By Paul Giblin MOSCOW Russia (Xinhua) -- German midfielder Tony Kroos produced one of the most dramatic moments of the 2018 World Cup to date when he scored a 95th minute goal to give his side a 2-1 win over Sweden and keep their hopes of qualifying for the second round of the tournament very much alive.

A draw between Germany and Sweden would not have mathematically knocked the reigning Champions out of the tournament, but it would have taken their destiny out of their hands and meant a draw between Mexico and Sweden in the last group match would have put them on the first plane home.

Now a win against South Korea should be enough to see the Germans into the last 16, but Kroos thinks that will leave some people disappointed.

“I had the feeling that a lot of people would be happy in Germany if we were eliminated, but we are not going to make it so easy for them... We will not be sent to the streets easily,” he said.

The 27-year-old midfielder said sectors of the press were actually happier to write about setbacks, in the wake of their opening game defeat to Mexico, than to speak about success.

“It gives me the feeling that it’s more fun to analyse or talk or write badly of us,” he commented.

Kroos put his hand up to accept the blame for Sweden’s opening goal in the game, after he lost possession.

“Sweden’s first goal is my fault, I assume the responsibility... When you touch the ball 400 times per game, it’s normal that you can lose the ball a couple of times,” he admitted.

The midfielder ended the encounter with 117 passes completed out of the 128 that he attempted.

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