Joachim Low highlighted Thomas Muller's missed chance during the closing stages as a pivotal moment in the 2-0 Euro 2020 defeat to England that brought down the curtain on his 15 years in charge of Germany.

Second-half goals from Raheem Sterling and Harry Kane booked a place in the quarter-finals for Gareth Southgate's side at a raucous Wembley.

But, after Sterling's third goal of the tournament, the Manchester City forward played a wretched pass towards his own half that released Muller.

The experienced Bayern Munich star bore down on Jordan Pickford's area and looked certain to score, only to fire wide.

"We didn't take advantage of the two great opportunities that we had with Muller and [Timo] Werner," Low said.

"It was obvious no team wanted to take too many risks, especially in their defensive work. It was expected that not many opportunities would be created.

"But you need to take advantage and be clinical if you want to succeed. The English side scored on their first opportunity and we didn't, so it was difficult.

"We would have turned the match around with the chance of Muller, but then they got their second and it was not possible to turn the match around.

"The team threw in everything but we were not clinical enough, not effective enough. The team needs to mature as a team to be more successful."

 

Low's announcement before the tournament means that such next steps will occur without him and Tuesday's reverse at Wembley saw a glorious reign limped to a forgettable conclusion.

After taking over from Jurgen Klinsmann in 2006, Low led Germany to the final of Euro 2008, the semi-finals of the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012 before World Cup glory in 2014.

A youthful Germany team lifted the 2017 Confederations Cup after another semi-final exit at Euro 2016 but they failed to get out of the group stage during their World Cup defence in Russia and Low was unable to regain momentum.

"At the moment I haven't taken any decision yet," he replied when asked about his next move.

"When I took my decision to stop after this tournament, I had different thoughts back then.

"We will see in the next days and weeks. After 15 years in this job, with all the responsibility that is involved, taking a break is necessary.

"There will be a time when you find new energy for something else. At the moment, I do not have any concrete plans." 

Germany head coach Joachim Low is embracing the "captivating" history between his side and England ahead of their blockbuster Euro 2020 last-16 showdown at Wembley on Tuesday.

Low's Die Mannschaft have won the past four encounters against England in knockout matches at major tournaments, although the Three Lions beat West Germany in the 1966 World Cup final.

This will be the 13th meeting between England and Germany at Wembley. England won four of the first five such games (L1), including the 1966 World Cup final, but are winless in their previous seven against Germany at the national stadium (D2 L5).

Low was in charge when German defeated England 4-1 at the 2010 World Cup in the round of 16, while current England manager Gareth Southgate missed a penalty as the Three Lions lost 6-5 in a shoot-out at Wembley in the Euro 1996 semi-finals.

"I think all the matches between England and Germany you talk about for years after," Low said. "This is a fixture that captivates everyone. It's an all-or-nothing game for both teams.

"The excitement goes without saying I can feel the players are highly motivated and we have analysed the English side.

"We are looking forward to this great encounter and a great evening ahead."

Low has led Germany since 2006, winning the 2014 World Cup, and will finish up his tenure at the end of Euro 2020, yet he said he has barely thought about the England match being his last in charge.

"All in all I thought about it two seconds," Low said. "I don't think about it because I have so many other thoughts in my head.

"This is my passion. My whole focus is on the match tomorrow night and I hope we will succeed."

Low has a few selection headaches with injury concerns over Antonio Rudiger, Robin Gosens and Ilkay Gundogan, although he said the final decision will be made on the day of the match.

The Germany boss was also full of praise for England, including Premier League Golden Boot winner Harry Kane – who has had an underwhelming Euro 2020 campaign with no goals.

"Of course we have to be focused," Low said. "Look at Harry Kane and the level that he plays. He can score goals out of every situation.

"This is his skills, his qualities. He has all of them. He is both footed, he is very good in the air. He can protect the ball very well.

"But England also has [Raheem] Sterling, [Phil] Foden, Mason Mount maybe. They have a lot of strong offensive players, attacking players with [Jadon] Sancho as well and [Marcus] Rashford."

Germany have reached at least the semi-final in each of the last three editions of the European Championship. Indeed, since the tournament was expanded in 1996, they have reached at least the last four of the competition each time they have progressed to the knockout stages.

Die Mannschaft have conceded at least once in each of their previous eight matches at major tournaments (Euros and World Cup), since a 3-0 win against Slovakia at this stage of Euro 2016. Only once have had they had a longer run without a major tournament clean sheet, which was in their first nine World Cup matches between 1934 and 1954.

Joachim Low said Germany will "perform differently" when they face England in the Euro 2020 knockout stage, after an error-strewn performance against Hungary.

Leon Goretzka scored a late equaliser to salvage a 2-2 draw at Allianz Arena, where Hungary twice took the lead in Munich on Wednesday.

But Low was pleased with the way Germany, who reached the semi-finals of the last two European Championships, fought back to claim a draw that secured second place in Group F, behind France.

"We had an extremely good attitude; we made mistakes, but we fought," Germany head coach Low told reporters.

"It wasn't a game for the faint of heart. We knew that Hungary would give everything and that it would be as close as it was.

"To get through this group in the end, that was good and that was the goal. France also only drew 1-1 against Hungary, the so-called little ones gave everything. It wasn't easy, they had nothing to lose.

"But in the end what counts is that we are through."

Jamal Musiala, who at 18 years and 117 days became the youngest ever player to make an appearance for Germany at a major tournament when he replaced Robin Gosens, earned praise from Low.

"Musiala was cheeky," Low of the Bayern Munich teenager. "He secured the ball, and gave a very good performance."

Looking ahead to Tuesday's last-16 clash with England, who Germany defeated on penalties at the old Wembley Stadium in the semi-finals of Euro '96, Low said: "This is an absolute highlight when you can play against England at Wembley.

"We will be well prepared and we will perform differently, I can promise.

"It's great that we got through in this tough group."

Joachim Low was full of praise for Robin Gosens' swashbuckling performance as Germany beat reigning champions Portugal 4-2 in Euro 2020 Group F on Saturday.

Cristiano Ronaldo had put Portugal ahead early on with a strike that took him level with Miroslav Klose as the European player to have scored the most combined goals (19) across the World Cup and European Championship. 

Low's side stormed back before half-time, however, courtesy of two own goals in the space of four minutes from Ruben Dias – forced by a Gosens cross – and Raphael Guerreiro.

Gosens, who had earlier seen an effort ruled out for offside, then teed up Kai Havertz for a third shortly after the interval before eventually getting in on the act himself, heading home Joshua Kimmich's cross at the back post. 

Diogo Jota pulled one back for Fernando Santos' men, but a late comeback failed to materialise as Germany sealed their first win of the tournament in style. 

Low marked Gosens out for special praise in his post-match media conference and hopes there is plenty more to come from the 26-year-old.

"I don't know if it was the game of a lifetime for him, maybe he still has to play that," Low said.

"But it was an amazing performance from him. He worked very hard and on top of that he was a constant threat up front as well.

"That is exactly what we needed today."

Germany's first win of the tournament helped them move up to second in Group F, one point behind leaders France. 

A draw in their final group game against Hungary on Wednesday should be enough to see them progress to the knockout stages, but Low did not think the victory was a sign of how far Germany can progress in the competition.

"It doesn't have anything to do with initiating something," he said. "It gives you some satisfaction but we never had any doubts after losing to the world champions, we knew we could do better.

"At a tournament you know how it goes, step by step. The next step will be Hungary, which will be hard as they park the bus in defence.

"Overall it was a strong performance against a technically good Portuguese team who were strong on the counter-attack.

"Especially after going behind we showed a great team spirit, we didn't lose control, we were dynamic and energetic and created a lot of opportunities.

"We managed to be a threat to the defence and overall this victory is well deserved."

Portugal, meanwhile, became the first reigning champions in European Championship history to concede four goals in a single match in the competition.

Boss Santos accepted full responsibility for the result and said it is up to him to turn things around for the final group game against France on Wednesday.

"Whether we progress or not is up to us and we have to respond to this," he said.

"The manager is to blame for the result. If we look at individual players it would be shooting ourselves in the foot. Now I have to talk to the players and understand why we couldn't do what we planned to do.

"I am responsible for this, I don't want to mention players by name as we need to solve this as a team and think about France.

"France play differently and we need to change the things we did which were not that good."

Joachim Low wants Germany to show Cristiano Ronaldo they have the kind of bottle that he and Portugal cannot handle in Saturday's crunch Euro 2020 clash.

Head coach Low has told his team to "take more risks" and be brave as Germany bid to bounce back from their opening 1-0 defeat to France in Group F.

The Munich tussle follows several days when Ronaldo has faced scrutiny for moving two Coca-Cola bottles that were positioned on a news conference stage, and appearing to declare he preferred water to the tournament sponsor's product.

"Cristiano can do more than put away Coca-Cola bottles, he has more qualities," said Low on Friday evening, as he faced questions on how Germany would handle the Portuguese superstar.

That quip came amid a full assessment of Portugal's threat, but Low was more eager to talk about his own team's potential, feeling they have more to give than they showed against France.

He said that result left an "unfortunate and bitter" feeling, and added: "It's no secret we didn't create enough."

Low, who will step down after this tournament, hopes to see "more attacking power", saying Germany "need to be more intense, more effective".

"I think every player understood in attack we need to react in a different way. If we are in the final third, we need to stay there. [Against France] we always played backwards going out of the final third," Low said.

"We tried to be secure, not intense enough, but we need this dynamic in attack, especially in the final third.

"We need to take more risks, occupy spaces better, not go out of these spaces, and be more effective. We missed a number of occasions and options to do better [in the France game] and I'm sure we will do better tomorrow."

Portugal began with a 3-0 win over Hungary, though they were flattered by that margin, with the match having been goalless going into the final 10 minutes.

Ronaldo scored twice, his first a penalty, after Raphael Guerreiro broke the deadlock.

"It's not a one-man show, that's clear," Low said of Portugal.

"Portugal have been at the top since four to five years. With winning the Euro title [in 2016] they grew together, they're a great team.

"Is it a one-man show? It was before... Cristiano Ronaldo the superstar of the Portuguese team, he was 'the man', but this has changed. They have more players of top quality: [Bernardo] Silva, [Bruno] Fernandes, Joao Felix, Jota and many more and they are involved in attack as much as Cristiano is."

Germany would be in great danger of elimination should they lose, and going out in the group stage of his final tournament would hardly be a fitting way to sign off for World Cup winner Low.

"With the pressure we can deal with it, the players can deal with it," Low said. "We need a positive result and we want to show a good performance, but the pressure won't hinder us."

Portugal's last victory against Germany was in the group stages of Euro 2000 – a 3-0 win, courtesy of a Sergio Conceicao hat-trick.

Since then, Germany have won their four meetings with Portugal, all at major tournaments (the World Cups in 2006 and 2014 and the 2008 and 2012 European Championships).

But Low said: "All that's important is tomorrow night, 90 minutes against Portugal, and not what our history is against Portugal or France. This doesn't help if you know about that."

Paul Pogba insisted France must deal with being labelled as favourites to win Euro 2020 after he led the way with a supreme performance against Germany.

Mats Hummels' own goal gifted Euro 2016 runners-up France a 1-0 win over Germany in their opening Group F encounter in Munich on Tuesday, putting Les Bleus well on their way to progressing to the last 16.

France – who finished with just one attempt on target – had opportunities to add to their lead, with Kylian Mbappe and Karim Benzema having goals disallowed for offside, though Joachim Low's Germany ultimately failed to make their luck count as they lost their opening game of a European Championship for the first time.

The winner came in fortuitous circumstances, with Hummels turning in from Lucas Hernandez's cross.

Pogba's exceptional pass played in France's left-back, however, and the Manchester United midfielder was on top form, attempting more passes (52) and more in Germany's half (31) than any Les Bleus player.

He also amassed a team-high 78 touches – albeit that total was 50 less than game-leader Toni Kroos (128) – and went in for 20 duels, the most of any player.

With the world champions having been tipped to lift the trophy they missed out on against Portugal on home soil five years ago, Pogba is adamant France must live up to the billing.

"The performance of the team is the most important. Without them, I would not have been so efficient," Pogba, who was also involved in a flashpoint with Antonio Rudiger when he appeared to complain that the Germany defender had bitten him, told M6.

"They helped me, they have everyone made the effort. This victory is for everyone, those who are also on the bench and in the stands to support us.

"Everyone was talking about our status as favourite, our attack, the group of death. We must assume our status with humility."

Didier Deschamps is aiming to become the first person to win the European Championship and World Cup as both a player and coach, and was delighted with a resilient display.

"We had a big match against a very good opponent," Deschamps told M6.

"I knew that my players were going to be ready, we were fighting for everything, even if in the first half we could have got the ball out a little better. We did not suffer that much in the second period. It's a tough game.

"This is our first game. In our group, taking these three points is important. We were at the level, this victory is good for us."

Deschamps' counterpart Low said he could not have asked for any more effort from his Germany side, who mustered 10 attempts to France's four, albeit only one of them hit the target.

"We really gave everything. We fought until the end, for 90 minutes," Low told beIN Sports.

"What we missed was a goal. We conceded a goal that we could have avoided, but otherwise I have no criticism to make. We lost a match, but we continue."

Germany next host defending champions Portugal, while France travel to Budapest to face Hungary.

The year-long delay to Euro 2020 has shifted the narrative for a host of stars, and meant the long wait for a return to the big stage has been extended for others.

Now, though, Europe's elite are set to battle it out as Portugal defend the title they won in France five years ago.

Some players enter the competition in great form and with little baggage, but for others this month-long tournament is a chance to make a big splash, or live up to long-held expectations.

Here, Stats Perform looks at two famous footballing nations, four big-name stars and a coach who bows out of his current job and may have designs on his next assignment.

Gareth Bale: Finished or a new beginning?

The wing wizard can do little wrong in the eyes of Wales and Tottenham supporters, and perhaps now there is a glimmer of hope for his Real Madrid career.

At the end of a season-long loan at Spurs, it seemed likely Bale would head back to Madrid and spend the final year of his contract largely on the sidelines. His future looked to be one of training, playing the odd Copa del Rey game and making fleeting LaLiga appearances, and spending his happiest hours on the region's best golf courses.

Now that Zinedine Zidane has moved on, that could change all of a sudden, and Bale has an immediate chance to make an impression on new Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti when he captains Wales at the Euros.

Bale joined Madrid in 2013, when Ancelotti was embarking on his first spell at the Santiago Bernabeu, but his career in Spain looked to have all but conked out 12 months ago.

The door certainly seems open for the 31-year-old to do just that as, in his presentation news conference at Madrid, Ancelotti said: "Gareth has not played much in the Premier League [in 2020-21], but he scored lots of goals, and was very effective in recent games when he had a chance to play.

"He is coming back, I know him very well, he will be motivated to play better and have a great season, no doubt."

At Spurs, he scored 16 goals across all competitions at an average of one every 104.44 minutes, and his match fitness appeared to be building up nicely when the season ended.

Bale exceeded his expected goals (xG) total of 11.07 quite handsomely, and for the first time since the 2015-16 season he scored more goals than he had big chances.

He had 15 such chances, defined by Opta as situations "where a player should reasonably be expected to score".

Bale is said by some observers to be considering retiring after Euro 2020, but that could be a waste of a still-luminous talent and Ancelotti is sure to be closely watching.

Eden Hazard: Brilliant Belgian has been a Real disappointment

So often sparkling for Belgium and Chelsea in the past, Hazard has left Madrid supporters wondering what has happened to that fizz since he landed in Spain.

He started just seven games in LaLiga in the season just ended, a string of muscle injuries and a spell out with COVID-19 ruining his campaign.

When fit enough to feature, the forward's numbers have been way down on those that he produced – to take a pertinent example – during Belgium's Euro 2020 qualifying campaign.

A fair way of assessing his figures is to look at how Hazard contributes for every 90 minutes he is involved with club and country, and the comparison between his displays in Belgium's run to reach this tournament and in 2020-21 at Madrid shows an alarming dip.

His chances created total per 90 minutes falls from 4.6 to 1.0, his number of touches of the ball slides from 95.1 to 73.8, and his dribbles attempted plummet from 7.4 with Belgium to 4.2 in Madrid's season.

His involvements in shot-ending sequences of play fall from 10.8 to 4.9 per 90 minutes, and analysis of goal-ending sequences shows his contribution drops from 1.9 with Belgium to 0.8 per 90 minutes with Madrid.

It bears remembering that Hazard has not had the run of games that would give him full match fitness. If Real Madrid fans want any succour, they can find it in his Belgium statistics and must hope the coming month sees the 30-year-old roll back his form a couple of years.

A fit and firing Hazard would be a huge asset to Ancelotti, who is expecting the former Chelsea star to have an impact next term.

"Hazard is a top player, he has had injury problems, and not shown his top potential yet here," Ancelotti said. "I believe he can do that next year, he wants to, is motivated."

 

Karim Benzema: Have France really missed him?

Nobody doubts Benzema's ability or his current form. Firing 23 goals for Real Madrid in LaLiga showed he is coming into Euro 2020 in great shape.

The thing is: few expected him to play any part in this tournament.

Off-field matters and an impending court case have seen Benzema frozen out by France, the 33-year-old sidelined from international duty since 2015 following allegations he had a part in a plot to blackmail former Les Bleus player Mathieu Valbuena.

Benzema strenuously denies any wrongdoing and for the duration of Euro 2020 he will aim to show what France have been missing in his absence. They managed to win the 2018 World Cup without him, and reach the final of Euro 2016, yet coach Didier Deschamps has decided his team need Benzema's presence for the coming month.

It could be a masterstroke or could go disastrously wrong, with France a national team who have combusted before during a big tournament.

Benzema last year made the snippy remark that Olivier Giroud was a go-kart and he, by contrast, was a Formula One car, but now they are rivals for selection.

Squad harmony is vital at any major championship, and Benzema's presence brings that little extra frisson. This gamble could go either way. Watching him and France will be fascinating.

Marcus Rashford: Making his pitch for a better England

Manchester United striker Rashford has been a pandemic social justice warrior, emerging as an inspirational figure as he battled for school children to avoid food poverty.

There is so much to admire about the 23-year-old Mancunian, who has also faced – and faced down – appalling racism on social media.

It would take a cold, cruel heart to begrudge Rashford a major moment on the pitch now, and that could come with England over the coming weeks.

On the international scene since just before Euro 2016, Rashford is now fixtures-and-fittings within the Three Lions set-up, but he has still yet to score at a World Cup or European Championship.

Before June's pre-Euros friendlies he had 40 caps and 11 goals and will want to improve his so-so goals-to-games ratio, which is partly explained by the fact only 20 of those caps came as a starter.

Golden Boot winner Harry Kane carried so much of the scoring burden for England at the last World Cup, and sometimes it takes two. Rashford scored three times in Euro 2020 qualifying and is coming off a 21-goal campaign with United, scoring on average once every 197.76 minutes.

The man who is effecting positive change in the way many live their lives, influencing politicians and shaping a better future for millions, could now do his country a massive favour on the football field.

 

Scotland: They're back, thanks to Mourinho's former right-hand man

Few in the Scotland team are long enough in the teeth to remember the last time the Tartan Army descended on a major tournament.

It was 1998, with the Scots giving Brazil a major test in the opening game at the Stade de France. A draw followed against Norway followed the 2-1 loss to the Selecao, before a dismal defeat to Morocco meant the campaign ended in crushing disappointment.

Hopes have flickered and foundered in the decades since, but Steve Clarke, once an assistant boss to Jose Mourinho at Chelsea, has led his team back to the big time.

With the likes of Andy Robertson, Scott McTominay and Che Adams, they possess Premier League quality, and two games Hampden promise to be nourishing for the soul.

Scotland is an expectant nation. That tends to end in intense disappointment at major tournaments, but optimism abounds as the games approach, the June 18 clash with England at Wembley ringed in the diary.

Italy: Blue skies again for Azzurri

It felt absurd that Italy should be absent from the 2018 World Cup, but they failed the meritocracy test of qualification when losing a play-off to Sweden.

That meant they were absent from football's great global gathering for the first time since 1958, and coach Gian Piero Ventura was swiftly given the heave-ho.

Enter Roberto Mancini, the former Inter and Manchester City boss who has led a scorching revival of the Azzurri, a team who won all 10 of their qualifiers and headed into June on a 26-game unbeaten run.

Wales, Turkey and Switzerland are the group-stage opposition for Italy, and the Turkey game in Istanbul gets the tournament underway.

They are a team perhaps without a superstar, but as Paolo Rossi and Toto Schillaci would attest, iconic Italian figures can emerge on the big stage.

Joachim Low: Hit for six, Germany go back to the future

After 15 years, Low will step down as Germany head coach following these finals. Many in Germany think he should have stepped aside already, but Low has powerful support within the DFB, the national federation.

A 6-0 defeat to Spain in the Nations League last November felt like an appalling nadir, with Germany outshot 23-2 in Seville and having just 30 per cent of possession.

Something had to change and it has, with Low summoning Thomas Muller and Mats Hummels out of the international exile he harshly imposed on the experienced pair over two years ago.

Low felt he could do without their talents but it proved a major misstep, and for Germany's sake they are back. What Low does next remains to be seen, but a strong Euro 2020 campaign with Germany would bolster his chances of landing any elite club job.

The 61-year-old was a World Cup winner seven years ago, but the most immediately telling part of his legacy will be written during this European summer.

Serge Gnabry believes he could be the answer to Germany's goalscoring problem at Euro 2020.

The Bayern Munich forward has spent most of his career in wide roles, but coach Joachim Low – who will step down after the tournament – has selected just two strikers in his squad.

That suggests the coach is looking for others to make themselves available for central attacking duties, and the likes of Gnabry and Kai Havertz could be made for the job.

Havertz's Chelsea team-mate Timo Werner and Monaco forward Kevin Volland are the two frontline strikers at Low's disposal.

Germany were thrashed 6-0 by Spain last November in the Nations League, and although they began their World Cup qualifying campaign in March with wins over Iceland and Romania, a subsequent defeat to North Macedonia pointed to shortcomings.

On Wednesday they will tackle Denmark in a friendly in Innsbruck, a penultimate game before Germany launch their Euro 2020 campaign with a June 15 clash against France in Munich.

"I don't know yet whether I'll play on the wing or in the middle," Gnabry said in a pre-game news conference. "I haven't had a concrete conversation with the national coach.

"I'll do my best when I play in the centre and imitate the striker. But we have so much potential on the offensive that it doesn't really matter who is up front."

Gnabry suggested he enjoyed the central role because it inflated his chances of personal glory.

"Because you're closer to the goal, that's the only reason," Gnabry said. "I just love to score goals."

The former Arsenal player warned, however: "I'm not a [Robert] Lewandowski or [Erling] Haaland."

Gnabry scored just 11 goals for Bayern in the season just ended, after a 23-goal campaign in 2019-20, while Werner netted 12 for Chelsea and Volland hit the back of the net 18 times.

Gnabry's goals came at a healthy rate of one every 216.55 minutes, behind Volland (one every 177.11 minutes) but well ahead of Werner (one every 318.83 minutes).

Germany's Champions League finalists are not available for the Denmark game, meaning Low must get by without Havertz, Werner, Antonio Rudiger and Ilkay Gundogan.

Toni Kroos, Jamal Musiala and Leon Goretzka are also expected to be absent, the coach seeing his 26-man squad depleted.

Thomas Muller and Mats Hummels should win their first caps since November 2018, having been frozen out over the last two and a half years as Low attempted to give his team a younger look.

The coach went cap in hand to both recently, beckoning them back into his squad, and the experienced pair accepted the invitation.

Asked about Bayern team-mate Muller, Gnabry said: "He absolutely deserves it. He is incredibly effective and particularly valuable in terms of motivation. It's good to have him here."

Muller was one of only five players from Europe's top five leagues to score at least 15 goals and have at least 15 assists across all competitions in the 2020-21 season.

He scored 15 times and set up 19 goals, with the others in that exclusive club being Tottenham's Harry Kane and Son Heung-min, Manchester United playmaker Bruno Fernandes and Borussia Dortmund winger Jadon Sancho.

Hummels also had a stellar season in defence for Dortmund. He is 32 and Muller is 31, and Gnabry sees their experience and leadership qualities as being a major boon for Die Mannschaft.

"It's always good to have leaders on your team," Gnabry said. "If we all pull together, we will be successful."

Zinedine Zidane has stepped down as head coach of Real Madrid, ending weeks of mounting speculation over his future.

Zidane returned to Madrid for a second spell at the helm in March 2019, having led his former team to three consecutive Champions League successes from 2015-16 to 2017-18.

Last season, he added a LaLiga title to the one he collected in 2016-17, but Los Blancos finished 2020-21 without a trophy to their name – bowing out in the semi-finals of the Champions League and finishing second to city rivals Atletico Madrid domestically.

A significant rebuild appears to be needed at Madrid, with Zidane deciding he is not the man for that task as the club face up to a testing financial situation and the potential of a Champions League ban for their part in the doomed Super League project.

Nevertheless, the allure of Real Madrid remains considerable and plenty of big names will be in the frame.

Raul

Zidane cut his coaching teeth with Madrid's Castilla team and fellow club great Raul is now the man in that position.

Elevating Madrid's former record goalscorer to the top job would no doubt prove popular with fans but the decision to follow the Castilla-to-first-team template backfired horribly during Santiago Solari's four-and-a-half months in charge that preceded Zidane's return.

 

Antonio Conte

Former Juventus and Italy boss Conte has been on Real Madrid's radar previously and is now on the market once more having left Inter by mutual consent.

Conte led Inter to Scudetto glory this term, adding that success to league titles won at Juve and Chelsea. However, his habit of clashing with his employers would arguably not bode well for any union with Florentino Perez.

In the Champions League, Conte's record is far less impressive. But, if a ban is on the way, the 51-year-old has shown himself to be at his very best when coaching teams rigorously for one game per week. Circumstances might conspire to make the timing absolutely right if Madrid turn to the Italian.

Mauricio Pochettino

Another coach previously linked to the Madrid post in between Zidane's spells at the helm, Pochettino appeared to be the one that got away after joining Paris Saint-Germain midway through this season.

Yet, reports emerged this week that the Argentine is unsettled in the French capital and has held talks over a dramatic return to Tottenham.

If he is open to that, he would surely listen to anything Real Madrid have to say?

 

Joachim Low

Low will bring down the curtain on 15 years in charge of Germany after the forthcoming European Championship and is certainly the kind of big name to excite Los Blancos' fanbase and boardroom alike.

It is tempting to wonder how much of the shine has come off Low in the years since Germany won the 2014 World Cup, although a strong farewell showing at Euro 2020 would assuage most doubts.

Even so, returning to club management for the first time in almost two decades at the Santiago Bernabeu might be something of a culture shock.

Massimiliamo Allegri

Yes, yes, okay. He's going to Juventus, right? Has he gone there already?

The rapidly turning European managerial merry-go-round has Allegri set for a return to Turin, the with failed Andrea Pirlo experiment apparently only having hours left to run.

On the other hand, this time yesterday, Conte was still in a job and Pochettino was settled in Paris, so far as anyone knew. And Allegri is admired in Madrid. Don't rule this one out entirely, for at least the next five minutes.

Zinedine Zidane's second spell as head coach of Real Madrid is over after the club announced the departure of the Frenchman.

The former 'galactico', a majestic playmaker who dazzled crowds at the Santiago Bernabeu and beyond, Zidane returned to Madrid for two spells as coach.

Now his era is over, with Madrid stating on Thursday: "Real Madrid announces that Zinedine Zidane has decided to end his current spell as coach of our club.

"It is now time to respect his decision and show him our appreciation for his professionalism, dedication and passion in all these years, and for what he represents to Real Madrid.

"Zidane is one of Real Madrid's great icons and his legacy extends beyond what he has achieved as a coach and player at our club.

"He is aware that he has a place in the hearts of the Real Madrid fans and that he will always have a home at Real Madrid."

In his first spell, from January 2016 to May 2018, Zidane delivered an astonishing three successive Champions League triumphs and one LaLiga title.

Drawn back to the club in March 2019, his second tenure did not prove quite as successful, although he led Madrid to LaLiga success in the 2019-20 season.

He departs after a barren campaign on the trophy front, however, with Madrid losing early to minnows Alcoyano in the Copa del Rey, edged out by Chelsea in the Champions League semi-finals, and pipped to the Spanish title by Atletico Madrid.

Zidane, 48, had been tipped to depart for weeks, with the confirmation of his exit coming as no surprise to most, although Madrid striker Karim Benzema told L'Equipe this week: "I don't see him leaving. He will not leave, you will see."

Now Madrid must find a worthy successor. Their former striker Raul has been linked with the post but is inexperienced, and Massimiliano Allegri emerged as an early favourite as whispers of Zidane's decision emerged.

However Allegri, who won a Serie A title with Milan in 2011 and added five more with Juventus, is reportedly returning to the Turin giants as a replacement for Andrea Pirlo.

Antonio Conte, who left Inter on Wednesday, may be in the Madrid frame, while Joachim Low, who will step down as Germany coach after Euro 2020, could also be a contender.

Whoever takes the job will inherit a side who finished 2020-21 in fine form.

Madrid ended their LaLiga campaign on an 18-game unbeaten run, winning 13 and drawing five in that sequence to apply pressure on one-time runaway leaders Atletico, taking the title battle to the final day.

That goes down as their best run without defeat in a single league season since Carlo Ancelotti's Madrid also strung together 18 unbeaten games in the 2013-14 campaign, winning 15 times.

Zinedine Zidane's second spell as head coach of Real Madrid is over after the club announced the departure of the Frenchman.

The former 'galactico', a majestic playmaker who dazzled crowds at the Santiago Bernabeu and beyond, Zidane returned to Madrid for two spells as coach.

Now his era is over, with Madrid stating on Thursday: "Real Madrid announces that Zinedine Zidane has decided to end his current spell as coach of our club.

"It is now time to respect his decision and show him our appreciation for his professionalism, dedication and passion in all these years, and for what he represents to Real Madrid.

"Zidane is one of the great mythical figures of Real Madrid and his legend goes beyond what he has been as a coach and player of our club.

"He knows that he is at the heart of Real Madrid and that Real Madrid is and will always be his home."

In his first spell, from January 2016 to May 2018, Zidane delivered an astonishing three successive Champions League triumphs and one LaLiga title.

Drawn back to the club in March 2019, his second tenure did not prove quite as successful, although he led Madrid to LaLiga success in the 2019-20 season.

He departs after a barren campaign on the trophy front, however, with Madrid losing early to minnows Alcoyano in the Copa del Rey, edged out by Chelsea in the Champions League semi-finals, and pipped to the Spanish title by Atletico Madrid.

Zidane, 48, had been tipped to depart for weeks, with the confirmation of his exit coming as no surprise to most, although Madrid striker Karim Benzema told L'Equipe this week: "I don't see him leaving. He will not leave, you will see."

Now Madrid must find a worthy successor. Their former striker Raul has been linked with the post but is inexperienced, and Massimiliano Allegri emerged as an early favourite as whispers of Zidane's decision emerged.

However Allegri, who won a Serie A title with Milan in 2011 and added five more with Juventus, is reportedly returning to the Turin giants as a replacement for Andrea Pirlo.

Antonio Conte, who left Inter on Wednesday, may be in the Madrid frame, while Joachim Low, who will step down as Germany coach after Euro 2020, could also be a contender.

Whoever takes the job will inherit a side who finished 2020-21 in fine form.

Madrid ended their LaLiga campaign on an 18-game unbeaten run, winning 13 and drawing five in that sequence to apply pressure on one-time runaway leaders Atletico, taking the title battle to the final day.

That goes down as their best run without defeat in a single league season since Carlo Ancelotti's Madrid also strung together 18 unbeaten games in the 2013-14 campaign, winning 15 times.

Hansi Flick has been confirmed as Germany’s new head coach on a three-year deal.

Flick, who led Bayern Munich to a ninth consecutive Bundesliga title this season, will replace Joachim Low after the Euro 2020 finals. 

It marks a return to the Germany fold for Flick, who previously served as Low's assistant between 2006 and 2014, a span that included being crowned world champions in Brazil in 2014.

Flick joined Bayern as an assistant coach in 2019 but was promoted to the senior role following the departure of Niko Kovac.

He subsequently led Bayern to a famous treble in his first campaign, securing the Champions League after domestic success in the league and DFB-Pokal.

Although they were knocked out of the Champions League quarter-finals by Paris Saint-Germain in 2020-21, Flick helped Bayern add the UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup, as well as another Bundesliga crown.

However, amid increasing speculation, the coach announced in April he would leave Bayern at the end of the season. Julian Nagelsmann was confirmed as his replacement.

In a German Football Association (DFB) statement announcing his appointment on Tuesday, Flick said: "It all went surprisingly quickly for me with the signature, but I am very happy to be able to work as national coach from autumn onwards. 

"The season has just ended and the two years at Bayern Munich have helped. The team spirit and the attitude of the players were outstanding, and I'll take a lot with me that will continue to shape my work. 

"I'm really looking forward to it because I can see the great quality of the players, especially the young players in Germany. 

"That's how we have every reason to approach the upcoming tournament with optimism. I wish Jogi Low, Marcus Sorg, Andy Kopke and the team the greatest possible success. Jogi Low has more than deserved a big end to his career as national coach."

Oliver Bierhoff, DFB national team director, added: "I am very proud that we have succeeded in signing Hansi for the post of national coach. He was from the start at the top of my wish list. 

"I have known and appreciate the human and professional qualities of Hansi since our many successful years together with the national team. During his time at Bayern Munich, he showed where he can lead a team as head coach. 

"We quickly came to an agreement on the future tasks. It was important for me to create clarity before the start of the Euros. We have one big common goal: to get back to the top."

Low, who was previously assistant to Jurgen Klinsmann, announced in March he would step down after the delayed Euro 2020 following 15 years in charge. 

As well as winning the World Cup in 2014, Germany were runners-up to Spain at Euro 2008 and reached the semi-finals of Euro 2012 and Euro 2016.

Standards have since slipped, though, with Low's men out in the group stage at Russia 2018 and suffered humiliating defeats to Spain – 6-0 in the Nations League – and North Macedonia – 2-1 at home in World Cup qualifying – in the past 12 months.

Hansi Flick has been confirmed as Germany’s new head coach on a three-year deal.

Hansi Flick has ended weeks of speculation over his Bayern Munich future by confirming he wishes to leave the club at the end of this season.

After taking over from Niko Kovac in November 2019, the 56-year-old led the Bavarians to a Bundesliga, DFB-Pokal and Champions League treble in his first campaign in charge.

He added a UEFA Super Cup, DFL-Supercup and the Club World Cup this term, with another top-flight title also looking likely after Bayern opened up a seven-point lead on Saturday.

However, it has recently been reported that Flick was considering his future and, speaking after a 3-2 win over Wolfsburg, the German coach revealed he will depart at the end of the season.

That means one of the biggest jobs in European football is about to become available - so who is in the running to step into the role?

Julian Nagelsmann

One of the most well-regarded young coaches in Europe, Julian Nagelsmann has long been admired by the decision-makers at Bayern Munich.

With speculation mounting over Flick earlier this week, the 33-year-old was forced to deny that discussions with the Bavarians had already begun.

"There have been no talks and we are currently in no talks," he said.

It has been previously reported that RB Leipzig would demand €15-20m to release their head coach from his contract.

But Bayern could well view that as a snip for a manager who has long been touted for the top job in German football and has previously attracted interest from Real Madrid.

Jurgen Klopp

The last manager to deny Bayern the Bundesliga title, Jurgen Klopp is another man who Die Roten have made no secret of their desire to appoint one day.

Despite his ties with Borussia Dortmund, the 53-year-old has never publicly declared that he would not make the move to Munich at some point in his career.

He has, however, recently signalled his intention to see out the remainder of his contract at Liverpool.

Amid links to the soon-to-be-vacant Germany job, Klopp said: "You sign a contract and you normally try to stick to that contract, don't you?"

Ralf Rangnick

Schalke, Eintracht Frankfurt, the German national team - nobody seems to know where Ralf Rangnick might go next. 

Out of work since leaving a role with Red Bull last year, the German's appointment would not require any costly negotiations with a rival.

And, while he might represent a slightly left-field choice to be the new Bayern boss, nobody can doubt his coaching credentials.

So many of the managers the Munich club covet have been influenced by Rangnick, so why not go for the original?

Joachim Low

Flick's imminent availability comes amid strong links with the role of head coach for the German national team.

That vacancy has come up as a result of Joachim Low revealing that he will bring a 15-year stint in the job to a close after the European Championship.

So, could the 61-year-old take on his first job in club management since he took charge of Austria Wien for the 2003-04 season?

Low's only trophy in German football came when he led Stuttgart to the DFB-Pokal in 1997, but his CV is certainly enhanced by that World Cup win in 2014.

Miroslav Klose

Having enjoyed remarkable success since Flick stepped up from his role as assistant to Kovac, Bayern could choose to go down a similar route following his departure by appointing Miroslav Klose.

The Germany legend moved up from his role as U17s coach over the summer to become second in command for the first team and might be a surprise choice for another promotion at the end of the season.

The 42-year-old is popular with supporters, though his lack of experience might count against him given the quality of the other candidates.

Still, if Bayern value continuity above all else in their search for a Flick replacement, don't count Klose out.

Leon Goretzka insists Germany's players are to blame for their shock defeat to North Macedonia and not under-fire head coach Joachim Low.

Germany lost 2-1 on Wednesday to the side ranked 52 places below them in the FIFA rankings – their first World Cup qualifying defeat since September 2011, a run spanning 35 games.

The loss was Die Mannschaft's second in four competitive matches, having also been thrashed 6-0 by Spain in November's Nations League clash.

Low recently announced he will quit his role with the national side after the rescheduled Euro 2020, though Germany's poor form – just five wins in their last 11 matches – has led to calls for a change before the tournament.

But Goretzka, who started all three of Germany's March qualifiers, has absolved the long-serving head coach of any blame for the latest calamitous loss, which leaves Germany third in Group J.

"We players are to blame for the defeat and no one else," he told ZDF. "We felt a touch of euphoria in the country after beating Iceland and Romania. 

"We have just got to tell ourselves now that it is behind us. You have to see that the scaffolding is becoming even more stable. In any case, that is primarily the job of the players."

Goretzka marked his return to club duty on Saturday with the winning goal in Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich's 1-0 win over closest challengers RB Leipzig.

He has been a key player once again for Bayern this term, featuring 28 times in all competitions, 21 of those appearances coming in the Bundesliga.

The midfielder's drilled finish against Leipzig from a Thomas Muller cutback was his fifth Bundesliga goal in 2020-21, adding to five assists – only Muller (25) and Robert Lewandowski (41) have been directly involved in more for Bayern in the league this season.

Goretzka also leads the way among Bayern midfielders in the Bundesliga for recoveries per 90 minutes (8.98) and is behind only Javi Martinez (2.57) for interceptions, with 2.27 a game on average.

Bayern are reportedly eager to agree fresh terms with Goretzka on a new contract, with his current deal set to expire at the end of next season, and the 26-year-old has indicated he is ready to commit to the club.

"I feel very comfortable here," he said. "Bayern has helped me a lot in the last few years to take the next step in my career. That is why the tendency is clearly towards Bayern."

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