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Early World Cup exit and relegation - 2018 a year to forget for Germany

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Germany's 2018 misery compounded with Nations League relegation

It's been a disastrous six months for Germany with Nations League relegation following a flimsy World Cup title defence. 

Joachim Low looked perplexed time and again during Germany's dire Nations League campaign. They slumped to bottom position in their group which means relegation to League B for the next edition of the competition.

That alone hardly signifies a crisis, particularly with Germany being in a group including world champions France and a Netherlands side that have looked electric in what has been a redemption campaign for them after a bad couple of years.

However, that's not all Germany have been through in the last year. This also comes on the back of a World Cup title defence that could barely have gone any worse.

Thomas Muller Germany

World Cup Disaster

Germany grabbed the headlines early ahead of the World Cup when Joachim Low decided to leave out winger Leroy Sane, despite him playing a part in a record-breaking title-winning season with Manchester City.

That wasn't exactly perfect preparation for Germany who were already coming into the World Cup with plenty of pressure as the champions. Now they had to back-up their manager's decision and block out all the noise the shock omission drew.

That was a short-sighted decision from Low. Not only was it the wrong decision tactically, but to make such a controversial decision wasn't going to help anyone in their preparation for the world's biggest competition. You've got to consider that as a manager.

The noise only grew louder when Low's ill-judgement was proven in Germany's first World Cup fixture. Die Mannschaft lacked the pace and incision offered by Sane as they lost their Group Stage opener against Mexico.

The criticism continued to arrive even as Germany won their second game, it was clear this team lacked pace, and Sane aside, they lacked direction which was strange for a team that looked ultra organised and equally ruthless in their World Cup win in 2014.

They appeared to be falling apart and that was confirmed when they lost to South Korea in their final game to finish bottom of their group. A flimsy title defence indeed.

Perhaps something wasn't right, perhaps Low can be forgiven for making bad decisions given he delivered a World Cup just four years previous. He'll find the answers...or so we thought.

Germany Gomez

Nations League Struggles

Germany weren't helped by getting what was arguably the toughest Nations League group, but this is Germany side that should be one of the world's best teams if they are doing things right. 

Victories against France and Netherlands shouldn't be beyond them, even after the World Cup disaster, but they proved to be so.

Germany managed just two points in the four games, and their final game was a personification of the last 12 months. Germany took a two-goal lead against Netherlands, only to collapse and draw 2-2, allowing the Dutch to win the group with the draw.

So what's gone wrong? Who is to blame? Most will point to Joachim Low, and there's no doubt that he has to shoulder much of the blame. He may even leave his role in the coming months.

However, there are bigger issues that have left this Germany team at rock bottom and without an ounce of confidence. A World Cup-winning team doesn't hit rock bottom just four years later without there being fundamental issues.

Germany Kroos

Where do they go from here?

Yes, there have been retirements, the loss of Lahm and other key players. However, there's so much talent in this Germany side. ter Stegen, Ilkay Gundogan, Thomas Muller, Marco Reus, Mats Hummels and the list goes on.

This should be one of the best teams in the world and they are a long, long way from it. The DFB have to look carefully at this situation and review what's going on before the rot sets in - and that's a real possibility with the confidence levels so desperately low.

This team are in trouble and there needs to be a review from top to bottom, starting at Joachim Low, who, for all his great achievements with the side, seems to have come to the end of the line with this team.

Germany have a monumental few months ahead before the start of the Euro 2020 qualifiers. Changes must be made.