Heading into the 2018 World Cup, the marriage between Germany and Joachim Low was a harmonious one.
Under Low, Germany had lifted the 2014 World Cup and the 2017 Confederations Cup as well as finishing runners-up to Spain at Euro 2008.
But then the marriage hit a Russian speed bump as Germany were bounced out of the World Cup in the group stages following humiliating losses to Mexico and South Korea.
For most nations, this marriage would have ended in divorce. However, Germany stuck by their man.
The UEFA Nations League should have been a second honeymoon but even that has provided little respite.
Germany drew 0-0 with France before losing 3-0 to the Netherlands and then, three days later, 2-1 to the world champions. The storm clouds were gathering.
So what does the future hold for Germany 2.0? The outlook is still bright, as long as Low sticks with the formulae of something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.
Like with any transition period, it’s important that Low keeps a core of veterans on hand to guide the new generation.
Mesut Ozil was the only major casualty following the World Cup- no offence to Sandro Wagner- so Low can still call upon Toni Kroos’ metronomic passing range in midfield.
Whether Bayern Munich’s trio of Manuel Neuer, Mats Hummels and Thomas Muller currently deserve a starting spot remains to be seen but, with 251 caps between them, their presence in the squad can do no harm.
That’s Low’s something old sorted.
As for something new, Kai Havertz’s creative masterclass in the 3-0 friendly win against Russia was exactly what the doctor ordered following the loss of Ozil, a player the 19-year-old talked of idolising growing up.
The Bayer Leverkusen midfielder was winning just his second cap but already looks settled at international level. There’s not yet an obvious weakness in his midfield armoury.
Thilo Kehrer’s versatility should also ensure he quickly builds on his three caps. The only worry is that he gets stuck in PSG’s logjam, as has been the case with team-mate Julian Draxler.
Serge Gnabry can be Germany’s something borrowed, which looked out of the question when he was sent back to Arsenal early from a loan spell with West Brom two years ago.
Gnabry made a single Premier League appearance during that campaign, but the 23-year-old renaissance man has bounced back- via a further loan spell with Hoffenheim and a season with Werder Bremen- to become a valued member of Bayern’s squad.
A hat-trick on his international debut announced Gnabry’s arrival in stunning fashion and a further strike against Russia means the midfielder now has four goals in four appearances for Germany.
Hopefully Tony Pulis kept his reciept.
Finally, something blue. For that Low has had to make peace with the past.
A collective intake of breath could be heard worldwide when Man City’s Leroy Sane was left out of Low’s World Cup squad.
Rumours of a carefree maverick failing to assimilate into a hyper-professional squad couldn’t excuse the PFA Young Player of the Year sitting at home while Germany desperately lacked for pace.
He netted his first goal for Germany against Russia at the 16th time of asking, earning a hug from Low which could be viewed as a symbolic healing of old wounds.
Germany aren’t out of the woods yet. The Netherlands are next up for Germany in a Nations League six-pointer that’ll certainly provide a stiffer test than Russia.
But Low appears to have stumbled on a formulae for success.
All it took was something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.
READ MORE FROM THE WORLD OF FOOTBALL:
- What was it like playing with Rivaldo during the latter stages of his sparkling career?
- Remembering Fulham’s 2019/20 Premier League title-winning campaign
- What’s going on with the ‘best goalkeeper on the planet?’
WATCH: LOVE OF THE GAME – EPISODE 2