It had felt like a new and happier time. Since Joachim Löw announced that he was standing down after the European Championship, his young and vibrant side had beaten Iceland and Romania convincingly to get their World Cup qualifying campaign off to the perfect start.
The mood in the squad relaxed, they took on North Macedonia in Löw's final World Cup qualifier on Wednesday night - and promptly lost 2-1. The feelgood factor that had been building up in the previous seven days was gone in an instant, replaced by questions about team tactics and selections and even a call for the national coach to leave his post immediately.
Writing in Bild, in a piece headlined "It is over, Jogi" Matthias Brügelmann, said: "This is the third historical debacle that Jogi Löw, after many successful years as national coach, is responsible for. There was the first elimination from the stage at a World Cup ever in Russia. There was the biggest defeat since 1931 with the 6-0 defeat against Spain. And now this 1-2 against North Macedonia, No 65 in the World Cup rankings.
"The rest of the world is laughing at us and if Löw was manager at a Bundesliga club he would have lost his job by now, and rightly so. And if Löw doesn't realise himself and steps down the DFB [GERMAN FA]must act and not put any success at the Euros in danger. Ralf Rangnick and the Under-21 coach Stefan Kuntz are both available."
In Die Zeit, Oliver Fritsch focused on the moment that will live long in the memory of Germany fans, Timo Werner's miss when clear on goal with 11 minutes remaining. "Ouch Timo," he wrote. "The substitute missed giving his side the lead in such an inelegant fashion that it will stay in the memory for long. Empty goal, 11 metres out.
“The internet will never forget this missed chance and the poor Werner is now used a symbol for Germany and the vaccination failure. That is unfair but the comparison with amateur football works better, although the amateur leagues would be offended by that. Most players from TV Dornholzhausen or SG Bissenberg would have looked better in that moment, even if they had had a glass full of beer in their hand.”
A new low
Fritsch admits that the defence also has to take responsibility for the defeat, something also highlighted by Kicker, which describes the defeat as a "disaster" and a "new low". The magazine wrote that the 96 minutes in Duisburg showed in a painful way that his decision to step down in the summer had been the right one.
Löw had said that "we cannot in any way lose the belief and feeling that we can have a good tournament in the summer" but Kicker pointed out that he looked so down that it will take a long time for him as well to recover from this setback. The author, Matthias Dersch, added that several questions had to be asked before the training camp in Austria at the end of May, regarding the players used, the system and the whole approach, including Löw's own.
Frankfurter Allgemeine's online headline was "Germany needs help", Christian Kamp writing that the abiding memory from the evening were the celebrations of some North Macedonian fans who had gathered outside the stadium. Kamp, as well as many others, highlights the fact that Löw's decision to end the international careers of Thomas Müller and Mats Hummels had backfired. "It looks like he gambled on that - and lost".
Wednesday's result leaves Germany third in World Cup qualifying Group J, three points behind leaders Armenia. - Guardian