Germany in 2018: from World Cup holders to Nations League relegation

Germany began the year among the favourites to win the World Cup. They end it in the second tier of the Nations League

By Jason Humphreys for Englische Woche

There was a sense of inevitability when Virgil van Dijk volleyed home a last-minute equaliser on Monday night. The Netherlands, a team slowly emerging from their own existential crisis, had already beaten Germany 3-0 earlier in the autumn and they were on hand once again on a chilly night in Gelsenkirchen to make sure their bitter rival’s annus horribilis came to an appropriately humble ending.

It could have been quite different. Five minutes earlier Germany were gliding towards victory. A victory that would not have saved them from Nations League relegation, but one that would have been a flicker of light at the end of the dark, damp tunnel of 2018 – particularly thanks to the identity of the goalscorers Timo Werner and Leroy Sané, two torch bearers of the Die Mannschaft rebrand.

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