Berlin: Franz Beckenbauer slammed Germany’s lack of fighting spirit in their 1-1 draw at home to Lithuania, saying the dismal performance exposed the side’s run to the World Cup final last year as “an aberration.”
Beckenbauer, captain and coach of West German teams that won the World Cup in 1974 and 1990, said there was no excuse for failing to beat Lithuania at home in the Euro 2004 qualifier in Nuremberg on Saturday.
“We recall our expectations before the World Cup — we were modest and would have been happy to have reached the quarter finals,” Beckenbauer wrote in a column for Bild on Monday. “And suddenly the team enthralled us all with a great tournament and ended up as vice world champions. Now we see that the World Cup was an aberration.”
Germany’s 1-1 draw with Lithuania, ranked 106th in the world and 101 places below them on the latest Fifa list, left them behind Scotland on goals in the group V race for a direct place in the Euro 2004 finals.
The three-times world and European champions struggled before the World Cup, needing a playoff win over Ukraine to qualify. But they emerged from their worst crisis to reach the final, where they lost to Brazil.
A defeat by Scotland in their next qualifier on June 7 in Glasgow would leave Germany with a struggle for top-spot and straight access to next year’s tournament in Portugal.
“Lithuania simply must be beaten at home,” Beckenbauer said. “There can be no discussion about that. No excuses. You have to put them under pressure and not stop working after 15 minutes.“It hurts to squander a victory like that,” he added. “I can hardly imagine we won’t win our group at the end of the day. But even though Scotland may not have the greatest talent, they can fight, fight, fight.
“If our players don’t adopt this attitude, we’ll often trip over teams like Lithuania.”Germany have failed to shine since last year’s World Cup, a hard-fought 2-1 win over the Faroe Islands following their opening 2-0 victory over Lithuania. Friendly defeats by the Netherlands and Spain then did nothing to boost Germany’s confidence.