Germany’s youthful side were in slick form against Iceland but outgoing head coach Joachim Low expects more from their next two World Cup qualifiers.
Iceland proved no match for Low’s side on Thursday, with early goals from Leon Goretzka and Kai Havertz paving the way for a comfortable triumph before Ilkay Gundogan rounded out a 3-0 success.
Led by the imperious Joshua Kimmich, Germany dominated throughout.
They had 81.5 per cent possession, attempted 1,053 passes – at an accuracy of 92.3 per cent – and had 15 shots compared to Iceland’s eight, with Manuel Neuer only called into action twice.
From his position at the base of midfield, versatile Bayern Munich star Kimmich controlled proceedings, tallying up 176 touches, 150 successful passes and a team-high three crosses, one of which should have resulted in a goal for Antonio Rudiger.
Only Gundogan (four) played more key passes than Kimmich, who was integral to Germany’s first two goals, playing sublime balls into Serge Gnabry and Leroy Sane as the hosts took a 2-0 lead by the seventh minute – the first time they have led by two goals that early in a competitive fixture since May 1969.
It marked a 17th successive win for Germany in World Cup qualifiers, a new team record.
But Low was not entirely pleased with Germany’s display, telling RTL: “In the second half, we played too many passes backwards and missed some moments to trigger momentum and pick up speed.
“I see opportunities for improvement in our game. What made us strong in the first half – a lot of movement without the ball, a lot of deep runs – that wasn’t quite the case in the second half.
“We have to see that we keep up the pace and can last for over 90 minutes. That will be important at the Euros.”
— OptaFranz (@OptaFranz) March 25, 2021
Despite Low’s concerns, Germany did much of their passing in Iceland’s half.
Indeed, only Havertz (31), Gnabry and Lukas Klostermann (both 28) among the hosts’ outfield starters attempted fewer passes in Iceland’s half than Aron Gunnarsson – who led the distribution metrics for the visitors – managed in all areas of the field (33, only 22 of which were successful).
Low, who is departing after the Euros, has received criticism in some quarters following a difficult 2020, and for his decision to ostracise 2014 World Cup winners Thomas Muller, Mats Hummels and Jerome Boateng.
The 61-year-old has hinted the door could be open for the trio to return at the rearranged tournament, though for now he is sticking with youth, handing Jamal Musiala – who would also have been eligible for England – his debut late on.
Aged 18 years and 27 days, the Bayern attacker is the youngest Germany player since Uwe Seeler in October 1954.
“For the most part, I’m satisfied,” Low said.
“We started very energetically and dynamically, we wanted to set an example. The team has the right attitude right from the start.”