Julian Nagelsmann and Rudi Völler were clearly smiling. The German national soccer team only faced one real top opponent for the new Nations League season.
In the group phase, national coach Nagelsmann's selection will face the Netherlands, Hungary and Bosnia-Herzegovina from September. That was the result of the draw in Paris. The DFB selection was sorted into Group 3 in the A-League.
Nagelsmann and DFB sports director Völler watched the draw on site at the Maison de la Mutualité - when the new season in the national competition begins in September, both will no longer be in office. Nagelsmann and Völler's contracts end after the home European Championships this summer (June 14th to July 14th). Even then, Hungary is an opponent of the German team alongside Switzerland and Scotland. The duel will take place on June 19th in Stuttgart.
There is a threat of relegation to the B league
In the 2024/25 season, a quarter-final will be played for the first time in the Nations League, through which four of the 16 European starting places for the 2026 World Cup will be awarded. The four group winners of the A-League are no longer automatically qualified for the final tournament of the best four nations in the summer. Playoffs will be held together with the group runners-up in March 2025 and will be drawn in November.
But even this rule would only have been enough for the national team to advance for the first time in the previous three editions of the tournament: in 2020/21, the DFB selection with Joachim Löw came second, but what will be remembered most is the 6-0 defeat in Spain in November 2020 .
In the last 2022/23 season, Germany - under Nagelsmann's predecessor Hansi Flick - only finished third in the group. In the premiere season of 2018/19, at that time still with groups of three, the DFB team came last and only escaped relegation to the B league thanks to a later increase. This danger is now increasing again: In the coming season, the third-placed teams in the A-League will have to play in playoffs against the runners-up in the B-League to avoid relegation. So far only the last team has been relegated to the next lower league.
Out of 16 games so far, Germany has only won three with four defeats and nine draws. The best goalscorer is Timo Werner, who moved to Tottenham Hotspur in the winter, with seven goals - in total, the national team conceded 29 more goals than they scored (24).