Marseille: Germany coach Joachim Low and defender Mats Hummels have criticised the new format for the European Championships which saw 24 nations involved this year, saying the quality has suffered as a result.
German striker Thomas Mueller (left) has an animated chat with goalkeeper Manuel Neuer while Bastian Schweinsteiger (centre) looks on during their Euro 2016 semi-final against France. Pic/Getty Images
Speaking after Germany were eliminated by the hosts France in the semi-finals on Thursday night, Low proposed a return to 16 nations in future to ensure more excitement.
Problem of plenty
"I think 24 teams are too many," he said on sport1.de. "The World Cup’s going to be increased to 40 teams and it’s getting more and more, and that’s a problem in the long term. You get the feeling it’s not doing football any good. The quality is suffering."
Germany faced Ukraine, Poland, Northern Ireland, Slovakia and Italy on their way to the semi-finals while France took on Romania, Albania, Switzerland, Republic of Ireland and Iceland on their way into the last four.
According to Hummels, that meant too many games against inferior opponents, who limited themselves to defending goalless draws, three of which could be enough to qualify for the last 16.
"The level at this European Championship was not exactly what we had hoped for," Hummels said.
"There were many teams who didn’t want to do anything with the ball and just packed men behind the ball."
Nevertheless, Hummels admitted that France were more than a match in Marseille. "We had to play to our highest level and you can't keep opponents like France in their own half for minutes on end," he said.
Loew also felt that his team was unlucky to be handed a penalty against the Frenchmen. "We played well up front and we were unlucky to concede a penalty with the handball just a minute before the break," said Loew.
Referee Nicola Rizzoli awarded the penalty for a Bastian Schweinsteiger handball in first-half injury time, although German players surrounded the match official in protest. Loew said he had to "calm the players down" in the dressing room at half-time.
"It doesn’t do you any good to be negative. I don’t want to say anything about referee. If you see the way Schweinsteiger went in, he didn’t have time to react and he was just unlucky. You could say his hands couldn’t have been up, but there is little he can do to control them, so I can’t blame him for that."