World Cup role reversal as Germany wins, Croatia struggles

AP
Published 7:45 p.m. ET March 24, 2019

Germany is winning again, and Croatia is struggling. The World Cup feels like a long time ago.

After a year of problems off the field — and humiliation on it — the new Germany is finally starting to look like the old Germany. Grit, determination and Nico Schulz’s 90th-minute winner earned the Germans a confidence-boosting 3-2 win over the Netherlands on Sunday in a European Championship qualifier.

“It’s good for the self-belief of this young team,” said Germany coach Joachim Loew. “I can live with criticism. I know what our potential is.”

Croatia looked a shadow of the resilient team which reached the World Cup final in July as it lost 2-1 to Hungary in Budapest. Spells of confusion in the Croatian defense are likely to concern coach Zlatko Dalic in a group where four teams look like contenders for two qualifying spots for Euro 2020.

Elsewhere, Wales started with a tense win over Slovakia, while Belgium and Poland enjoyed comfortable victories.

GERMANY’S REVENGE

Facing old rivals the Netherlands for the third time in six months, Germany enjoyed its revenge.

The Dutch beat Germany 3-0 in Amsterdam in October and earned a…

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