Berlin (AFP)

A four-time world champion and three-time European champion, Germany qualified for the Euro-2020 on Saturday, where they will arrive on tiptoe with a young team in full construction, with inevitably limited ambitions.

"At the moment, I do not see us among the favorites, and the important thing is that we play together in both games in March," admitted Toni Kroos, the 2014 world champion in 96 capes, after the Saturday's 4-0 win against weak Belarus.

Coach Joachim Löw makes the same analysis: "This team has great qualities but many players still need a few years to develop," he says.

Except that time is running out for the 59-year-old coach, who has embarked on a radical rejuvenation operation after the successive failures of the 2018 World Cup and the League of Nations, taking the risk of dismissing experienced executives and thirty-year-olds like Thomas Müller, Mats Hummels, Jérôme Boateng or Sami Khedira.

He will have only two friendlies after the last qualifying match against Northern Ireland on Tuesday before announcing in May his extended list of players selected for the tournament preparation camp.

- Serious injuries of the trustees -

"It's too short of time for the sites still visible on Saturday in this process of rejuvenation," worries Sunday magazine Kicker, the Bible of German football: "repeated absences, and above all the serious injuries of players supposed to be the best of the future, Niklas Süle, Leroy Sané and Antonio Rüdiger, greatly complicate the search for a typical team and the formation of a hierarchy ".

"Other nations, such as France, England or the Netherlands, have a lot of lead in this area on Löw and his troupe," concludes Kicker, hardly optimistic.

If things go wrong, Löw will always be able to invoke bad luck. In October, twelve of his players were absent from the rally, and several potential tricks are still missing this week, including Dortmund captain Marco Reus (ankle), Parisian Julian Draxler (foot), or Chelsea central defender Antonio Rüdiger (groin ).

He had planned to give the keys to the defense to Niklas Süle: the colossus 24 years of Bayern Munich has seriously injured the knee and is not even sure to be back for the Euro.

As for the attack, she is cut off from her star Leroy Sané. The wisp of Manchester City has broken the cruciate ligaments of the knee and will probably not return until March.

- Permanent DIY -

Result: Löw tinkers constantly and can not give play time to a "typical frame". On Saturday against Belarus, Germany had some holes in the air behind them and was sometimes borrowed in the fast transition game.

Tuesday's match against Northern Ireland in Frankfurt will be an opportunity to tighten the bolts. Especially since the stake is not zero: a victory would guarantee the "Mannschaft" the first place of the group in front of the Netherlands, and the certainty of being seeded in the draw for the final phase November 30th.

Overall, however, Joachim Löw is satisfied with his young troop's state of mind: "it was important to show the character we will need next year at the Euro." Important not to doubt the victory ", insisted the coach, who often compares his current group to that of 2010: third in the World Cup in South Africa, young Neuer, Hummels, Özil and other Boateng then began an adventure that would lead them to the supreme title, four years later in Brazil.

© 2019 AFP