By Oliver Trust
BERLIN, Nov. 16 (Xinhua) -- German national football team coach Joachim Loew is pushing for the rejuvenation of his team.
When the struggling side beat Russia 3-0 in Leipzig in a friendly, only goalkeeper Manuel Neuer and defender Matthias Ginter remained as 2014 world champions in the starting eleven.
58-year-old Loew is counting on new faces. Ahead of their crucial Nations League clash against the Netherlands next Monday in Gelsenkirchen, Loew fielded a team that was the youngest German outfit since summer 2017 when he won the Confederations Cup with a team with an average age of 24.
Only Neuer (32) and Cologne defender Jonas Hector (28) were older than 25 in the German starting line-up in Leipzig. Mats Hummels and Thomas Mueller were placed on the bench. Jerome Boateng and Toni Kroos missed the fixture.
"We want to give more space to the younger ones. I think that is the message of our coach," said Oliver Bierhoff, the national team managing director.
The victory over Russia was the first time Germany scored three goals in a game in 2018.
The side is still smarting after a disappointing early group exit at the 2018 World Cup. Loew again counted on a back-row of three (Ginter/Niklas Suele/Antonio Ruediger).
It was up to youngsters Leroy Sane (22), Serge Gnabry (22) and Timo Werner (22) to do the job up front. Paris St Germain defender Thilo Kehrer (22) was one of Germany's best performers alongside Bayer Leverkusen midfielder Kai Havertz (19).
As Borussia Dortmund striker Marco Reus (29) was sidelined due to injury, Havertz proved his skills by showing he can be a suitable replacement for Arsenal midfielder Mesut Oezil, who resigned after the 2018 World Cup.
New faces like Sane, Suele and Gnabry scored the German goals. It would appear that the established German stars such as Mueller and Hummels face an uncertain future in the national team.
The German media praised Loew's attempt to change the team.
"Loew sets a sign of renewal" the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung headlined. The Berlin-based tabloid Bild praised Sane and favourably compared his performances to that seen at his club side Manchester City.
Depending on the outcome of the game between France and the Netherlands on Friday, Germany could avoid being relegated to Group B of the Nations League if they beat the Netherlands on Monday.
The German team made another step toward improving their battered image but still has to work to win back fans' hearts as the arena in Leipzig wasn't completely sold out.
The German association said it will continue to fight to satisfy supporters with several projects.