Uefa Nations League: Joachim Low rewarded for putting faith in Germany's old guard

Manager understands importance of building new team, but he calls it a process which cannot be completed overnight

(L-R) Germany's midfielder Toni Kroos, midfielder Thomas Mueller, defender Matthias Ginter, midfielder Marco Reus and midfielder Nils Petersen take part in the training session of the German national football team in Munich, southern Germany, on September 4, 2018. - Germany will play in the UEFA Nations League against the France in Munich, southern Germany, on September 6, 2018. (Photo by Christof STACHE / AFP)
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Germany are trying to move into a new era after their disastrous World Cup campaign, but Thursday's 0-0 draw with France showed the importance to manager Joachim Low of keeping faith in the old guard.

Low's starting line-up at the Allianz Arena against the world champions featured five members of the German team that beat Argentina in the 2014 World Cup final - goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, centre-backs Mats Hummels and Jerome Boateng, midfielder Toni Kroos and forward Thomas Muller.

That quintet, with more than 400 caps between them, made up the spine of the team that would have beaten France were it not for some exceptional saves from visiting goalkeeper Alphonse Areola, notably from Marco Reus, Muller and then Matthias Ginter in the second half.

All of Germany's starting line-up for their first match in the inaugural Uefa Nations League had been part of their squad in Russia, when they were knocked out in the group stage.

The only changed face was Leroy Sane, the Manchester City winger coming off the bench late on having been controversially left out of the 23 for the World Cup. The likes of Thilo Kehrer and Kai Havertz stayed on the bench.

"Of course we need to integrate new players. We always need to be pushing to do that, but it is a process that will not happen overnight," Low said after the match.

"We saw that against a team as strong as France, players like Hummels, Boateng and Kroos are extremely important, because of their class, their experience and their quality. The youngsters will get their opportunity."

Low also opted to start with Ginter and Antonio Ruediger, centre-backs by trade, in the full-back positions, a decision that was rewarded as Germany kept Kylian Mbappe, Antoine Griezmann and company at bay.

MUNICH, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 06:  Joachim Low, Manager of Germany speaks to Didier Deschamps, Manager of France prior to the UEFA Nations League Group A match between Germany and France at Allianz Arena on September 6, 2018 in Munich, Germany.  (Photo by Adam Pretty/Bongarts/Getty Images)

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Our Uefa Nations League coverage:

Gareth Southgate's England hope to use World Cup feel-good factor against Spain

Southgate's England challenge: to ensure a rise is not followed by a fall

Is the new tournament a welcome addition or calendar clutter?

Explainer: How it works and fixtures in UAE time

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"It was a bit frustrating that we didn't score a goal. But we wanted to keep it tight after what happened at the World Cup. That was the priority. I think we succeeded," Kroos said.

Germany, who host Peru in a friendly in Sinsheim on Sunday, are hoping to definitively move on from the fall-out of their World Cup debacle.

That has been marked by Mesut Ozil's decision to retire from international football amid allegations of racism aimed at the German FA (DFB) president, Reinhard Grindel.

Low signed a new contract through to 2022 before the World Cup began, and the Nations League offers his team an early opportunity to win over supporters once again.

Germany play the Netherlands and France away in October, with the winner of their group going through to the four-team Nations League finals next June.

"We didn't play as freely as when we were at our best," Bayern Munich star Mueller said of Thursday's game.

"The supporters gave us a great welcome. We want to win back little by little the credit we lost over the summer," he added.

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