Seven months before the opening match of Euro-2024 in Munich, Germany fell back into its defensive failings on Saturday evening in Berlin, losing against Turkey (3-2), a worrying defeat from the perspective of next summer’s continental competition (June 14-July 14). The Mannschaft had not lost against Turkey for more than 18 years (2-1 on October 8, 2005). We have to go back to mid-June 1951 to find any trace of a home defeat against the Turks.

In 2022 and 2023, Germany has played 22 matches so far, and has only left the pitch three times without conceding goals, against Israel (2-0), Oman (1-0) and Peru (2-0), each time in a friendly match. Since taking up the position of coach at the end of September, Julian Nagelsmann’s main project has been the defensive sector, which struggled so much under the mandate of Hansi Flick. But if the coach has changed, the problems remain the same.

Saturday evening, in an Olympic stadium in Berlin won over to the cause of the Turks (between 45,000 and 50,000 Turkish supporters out of 72,592), the Bavarian technician innovated again. He started the match with a three-way defense around Antonio Rüdiger, Jonathan Tah and Benjamin Henrichs, switching to the defensive phase with a fourth defender… attacker Kai Havertz on the left side.

He thus left defenders Niklas Süle and David Raum on the bench. The experiment was not really conclusive, with Kaan Ayhan’s teammates gradually gaining the upper hand on the German defense. In the space of around ten minutes in the last ten minutes of the first period, the Turks found the net twice through Ferdi Kadioglu (38th) and Kenan Yildiz (45th 2). They were helped by the largesse of Benjamin Henrichs and Leroy Sané on the first goal and by Henrichs’ slip on the second.

The match started well for Henrichs and the Germans, who opened the scoring in the 4th minute. On a bright pass from the Leipzig defender, Leroy Sané was able to serve Havertz behind. The Arsenal striker did not lose his finishing instinct in the box to score his 14th goal with the Mannschaft. Niclas Füllkrug also scored, after returning from the locker room, his 10th goal in 12 caps to equalize, after a superb counter-attack from Florian Wirtz. But in the 70th minute on a free kick for Turkey, Havertz blocked Abdülkerim Bardakci’s delivery with his hand. Usuf Sari converted the penalty, awarded after the use of video assistance, to secure the Turkish victory a minute later.

The “Ole” from the stands of the Olympic stadium in Berlin on the Turkish passes at the end of the match show the work that remains to be done for the German selection to engage the country behind it for its Euro 2024. The trip to the Ernst-Happel stadium in Vienna on Tuesday against Austria, already qualified for Euro-2024, like Turkey, will serve as a new test for Nagelsmann.