BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – Bastian Schweinsteiger was stuck on the practice field while Germany crashed out of the World Cup in shocking fashion on Wednesday, unable to watch his former national team teammates and coaches in their historic defeat to South Korea as he trained with the Chicago Fire.
That didn’t stop him from lamenting the global power’s stunning exit on Thursday.
The 2014 World Cup winner told MLSsoccer.com in an exclusive interview that he was stunned that his country failed to get out of the group stage for the first time in their World Cup history.
“At the end of the day you can talk about many things, but I think that you did not really see the typical German performances which you actually are used to,” he said. “I know players from Argentina, Brazil, the Netherlands, they are always like expecting these kind of things from a German team which we probably were missing in that World Cup.”
Schweinsteiger declined to get into too many specifics of what he thought Germany lacked, but he repeatedly went back to the idea that team didn’t play in their usual manner in Russia. Longtime Germany manager Jogi Low hinted at that himself in his press conference after Wednesday’s capitulation, telling reporters that Die Mannschaft “turned up with a sense of arrogance” and thought they “could just turn a switch” after poor performances in pre-Russia tune-up friendlies.
They certainly didn’t perform to their talent level in Russia. They fell to Mexico for their first-ever loss in a World Cup opener, needed a last-second free kick goal to beat Sweden in their second match and looked listless in the 2-0 loss to South Korea that ended their tournament.
“I’m just sad about it. Playing a World Cup is a huge opportunity. It’s every four years, it’s a huge opportunity for every single one on the field, on the sideline, the fans are excited to watch the games. And you have so much quality and then you lose against Mexico, you lose against South Korea and you win in the last minute against Sweden.
“And every team is not easy to play, don’t get me wrong, it’s not easy to go through the group stage, it’s not, but I think a team with this kind of quality should be able to at least survive the group stage. Later on, when you play the final eight, quarterfinal, semifinal, you need also a little bit of toughness and all this stuff, sometimes also a little bit of luck, a good day, but it’s just disappointing to see that we are out of the tournament and last in the group. It never happened to Germany ever, so it’s sad for the moment but I’m sure we will stand up.”
Schweinsteiger, who played in three World Cups and four European Championships and recorded the fourth-most caps in the history of the German national team before retiring internationally in 2016, was non-committal when asked if he thought if Low, who is under contract through 2022, should remain as manager.
“Now that the tournament is done, now it’s a moment where people have to just, not relax, but reflect and to make wise decisions,” he said. “Life will go on. It’s not over. But for the next days it’s hard to watch the World Cup without Germany. But what will happen? We will see. I’m far away [from it all]. But I just hope to see Germany play like the Germans played in the past.”