Macdara Ferris reports from Convention Centre Dublin
The German general manager Oliver Bierhoff acknowledged that it hurt to see his team as second seeds in Sunday’s EURO 2020 draw in Dublin.
Die Mannschaft, even after their terrible World Cup campaign, were the one team that all sides wanted to avoid in the qualifiers.
Their opponents will be the Netherlands, Estonia, Belarus and Northern Ireland with Michael O'Neill's men feeling hard done by in having to face Germany yet again – and also by the manner of the draw.
The Republic of Ireland were originally drawn against the Dutch and Germans but, as both Amsterdam and Munich, will host games at the tournament finals like Dublin, the Boys in Green were excluded from the pot, allowing Northern Ireland to be drawn into that group.
“Seeing us today in pot 2 was different and it hurts a little bit,” admitted Bierhoff.
“It was a very difficult year for us,” said Bierhoff, whose team was defeated by both Mexico and South Korea in the Russia 2018 group stages, leading to their early elimination.
“The second half (of 2018) wasn’t as bad as it seems.”
Joachim Low's men failed to win a game in the recent UEFA Nations League – their only points coming from a scoreless draw with France and drawing with the Dutch last month after losing a 2-0 lead at home.
“You have cycles and you can’t be on top all time. We maybe got a bit lazy with certain things but I didn’t think it would be so brutal.
“We have to come back but it isn’t like in 2000 or 2004 where we had to take ten years to come back. We have a good infrastructure now.”
Bierhoff reckons his team can build from that low base. “I’m also happy as if you have a crisis and you want to make some changes some times you have to start at the bottom to come back.
“This group is a good opportunity for us and our young team. We have a strong opponents in the Netherlands. We can fight them again.
“The other teams like Northern Ireland, Estonia and Belarus make us the favourites but we can’t underestimate them.”