By Oliver Trust
BERLIN, March 28 (Xinhua) -- The first defeat after 22 games has given rise to criticism being directed at 2014 world champions Germany.
After coach Joachim Loew's team lost 1-0 at home in Berlin to Brazil, Real Madrid midfielder Toni Kroos said he felt Germany is far from being the big favorite for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
"To say we are the top favorite is nonsense. Perhaps more people accept that now," the 29-year-old commented.
Kroos accused the second-string squad members of delivering a poor performance against the five-time world champion from South America. "We are not at the level some thought we were; we are not as good as many tell themselves," the former Bayern Munich midfielder emphasized.
Kroos said Germany's understudies such as Leroy Sane and Ilkay Guendogan (Manchester City), Kevin Trapp (Paris St Germain), Leon Goretzka (FC Schalke 04), Antonio Ruediger (Chelsea FC), Mario Gomez (VfB Stuttgart), Niklas Suele and Sandro Wagner (FC Bayern Munich) missed the opportunity to make an impression.
The 2017 Champions League winner said it might be a warning shot at the right time to accept that "there is lots of space left to fill and to improve."
Kroos said the team's performance was poor both in possession and without the ball. "We lost the ball too easily and made far too many mistakes. Repeating that in Russia won't be a good idea," Kroos told German TV.
German coach Joachim Loew criticized the team's "bad body language" as he missed the passion and determination from many of his so-called Confed Cup heroes (most of his young players were part of the 2017 Confederations Cup winning team).
Insiders and pundits see Kroos' statements as those of established forces reacting to the hype around the many youngsters on the German team.
Kroos told Loew that he wouldn't be successful in Russia without counting on the "old hands", the Hamburg-based news magazine Spiegel assumed.
Kroos criticism followed the statements of Jerome Boateng after the 1-1 draw against 2010 world champions Spain. "We have to be critical about our performance, otherwise we won't be successful this summer in Russia," the Bayern Munich defender commented.
Boateng said the team must improve going forward, and use spaces much better. He also called the team's attitude "too lax."
Former Dortmund midfielder Sebastian Kehl said he is sure Loew will count on his experienced performers such as Kroos, Boateng, Mesut Oezil (Arsenal), Sami Khedira (Juventus Turin) and Thomas Mueller (FC Bayern Munich).
Some good news came for the 57-year-old German coach from the country's number one goalkeeper Manuel Neuer. To mark his 32nd birthday on Tuesday, the Bayern Munich keeper started his first training sessions on the pitch after being out of the game for six months with a broken foot.
"I am optimistic to have him back on the team in time," Loew commented. Neuer is expected to play in several Bundesliga games before returning to the German national team. "That is the plan and it looks like everything is working well," the German coach said.
Pundits such as former German international Oliver Kahn said they are not too optimistic that Neuer will make it in time as "it is vital to get some match practice under his belt before a major tournament like the World Cup."
Loew will announce his final squad on May 15 and start the team's first pre-World Cup training camp on May 23 in northern Italy.
Loew said he is optimistic that his team will improve in Russia. Regarding the World Cup, he announced that fewer changes in the line-up would be made.