By Oliver Trust
BERLIN, March 6 (Xinhua) -- German coach Joachim Low is under fire in the country's media after his decision to no longer consider Thomas Muller, Jerome Boateng and Mats Hummels for international selection.
"Bayern won't be happy about Low turning up just one week ahead of the crucial Champions League round of 16 second leg match against Liverpool," the Berlin-based Die Welt newspaper wrote after the 59-year-old traveled to Munich on Tuesday afternoon to discuss his decision with the 2014 World Cup-winning trio and Bayern officials.
"Farewell in passing. There should have been better opportunities to do it than one week in advance of Liverpool. Low is taking an enormous risk. Further turmoil can be expected," the Sueddeutsche Zeitung lamented.
The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung told its readers: "They deserved better."
The football magazine Kicker said: "The timing is an unpleasant surprise. Last autumn Muller was mentioned as important for the team's atmosphere, and Hummels delivered a satisfying performance in the 2-2 draw against the Netherlands."
The tabloid Bild called Low "merciless."
Low's decision has sharply divided opinion among fans and pundits. Some say the coach acted without tact and sensitivity, while others claim the step was overdue.
Muller made 100 appearances for Germany, scoring 38 goals. Hummels was capped 70 times (5 goals) and Boateng 74 (1 goal). The last Germany game in which Boateng, Hummels, and Muller played was the 3-0 defeat to the Netherlands in the Nations League on October 13.
But what does the axing mean for the future of the German team ahead of qualification for the 2020 European Championships?
The decision comes as a shock not only for 2013 treble winners Bayern Munich and their players, to whom Low had hitherto been loyal. Now the German coach has to rely on an entirely new generation.
Low will likely lose his job if Germany either fail to qualify for 2020 or perform weakly during the tournament, and will be acutely aware that his newly-formed Germany team has to deliver satisfying results quickly.
Team captain Manuel Neuer (Bayern) and Toni Kroos (Real Madrid) are the only remaining players from the victorious 2014 squad.
Ambitious players such as the Bayern crew of Joshua Kimmich, Leon Goretzka, Niklas Sule and Julian Draxler are ready to fill the space flanked by Leroy Sane (Manchester City), Timo Werner (RB Leipzig), Serge Gnabry (Bayern), Julian Brandt and Kai Havertz (both Bayer Leverkusen).
While Muller and Hummels have not yet commented on the decision, Boateng expressed his deep disappointment. "I would have wished for a farewell under other circumstances. I am very sad as it always was the utmost for me to represent my country. Nevertheless, I respect the decision and keep my fingers crossed for the team's future."
Hummels posted a photo on social media showing him with a tortured smile next to a red heart and his little son Ludwig in the background, calling the boy a "consoler".
Low announced plans to kick off the year with a friendly against Serbia on March 20, and the first Euro 2020 qualification game will take place against the Netherlands four days later.
"This is the year of our new beginning. It was important to me that I could personally tell the players and the bosses at Bayern about my thoughts and plans. I am convinced it is the right step to give the team a new face," Low noted.