The last time Germany had come from behind a World Cup game was on 29 June, 1998 against Mexico, when they had recorded a 2-1 win courtesy goals from Jurgen Klinsmann and Oliver Bierhoff.

Even Bierhoff, their business manager in Russia, watching from the sidelines must have thought that Germany were down for the count after going down a goal and then a man down.

That they fought back from the brink of elimination is testament enough to their mental strength, but the fact that they found themselves in this mess is proof enough that this squad maybe, just maybe, isn’t good enough to defend the World Cup title.

And Germany’s worst performer? For the second straight match, it was a certain Joachim Low.

Low reacted to the defeat against Mexico by dropping four and drafting in Marco Reus, Jonas Hector, Antonio Rudiger and Sebastian Rudy. While Mats Hummels was out injured, the other three were much needed.

Mesut Ozil, who had his worst outing in a German shirt, was on the bench for the first time in 26 major tournament matches. Low had also dropped his other trusted lieutenant, Sami Khedira. The German gaffer’s credit ends there, though.

For most of the match, Germany’s attacking patterns were predictable. The Die Nationalmannschaft opted to overload the wings, aided with the overlapping of the full-backs, and pump the ball into the box. One problem with that, Miroslav Klose had retired after the 2014 World Cup.

They started at a frantic pace, but Sweden’s centre-backs sat deep, negating this strategy. Germany’s selection of Sebastian Rudy, the only genuine number 6 in the squad, was understandable. After the defensive fiasco against El Tri, the defending champions had to ensure that they didn’t get caught high up the pitch.

Yet, that is exactly what transpired during the first half as Rudy piled forward with the rest of the team, leaving Rudiger and Jerome Boateng exposed. Kroos stayed back to help the defence, but he was guilty of the missed pass that led to Sweden’s goal. Rudiger gave the ball away on a couple of occasions, and the Swedes broke, but they were unable to take advantage of these defensive lapses.

Boateng’s first yellow card of the night was shown as the Bayern centre-back tried to break up a Swedish counter, while the second was for an absurd challenge from behind. Low’s system of gradually building pressure by pushing players high up the pitch had inadvertently transferred some of the pressure onto his own centre-backs and midfielders.

“The victory was a lucky one in stoppage time and we came from behind. Today we saw far fewer bad passes than we had against Mexico and when we push so much forward, a mistake can always lead to conceding a goal,” Low would admit after the match.

The head coach’s plan was flawed on two counts; Germany has no pacy centre-backs and Phillip Lahm was no longer around to bail them out. Die Nationalmannschaft had been using their old tactics for a new team, tactics which no longer fit the personnel available.

Sweden were slow in their build-up play and Mexico were profligate with their finishing, but better teams like Brazil and France will not be and will surely squeeze every mistake out of the high line.

The Scandinavians’ strategy was as baffling as their opponents. After being a man up for the last ten minutes, they decided to sit back and not fight on an equal footing. Germany’s victory may seem romantic but it was anything but painless as Low needs to sort out further problems with his starting eleven.

The biggest liability in attack seems to be Thomas Muller. The Bayern man, having scored 10 goals in his last two World Cups, misplaced passes all night long, barely offered any penetration and did not find himself in threatening positions often enough.

In defence, Kimmich’s average position was higher than Kroos and he spent more time in the attacking third than Kroos and Gundogan. Hector came close, as the full-backs pushed unnaturally high up. Low needs to rein his wide defenders in, or offer more cover for the defence.

Boateng’s suspension means that Niklas Sule will possibly partner Rudiger in defence. The two started a Confederations Cup game, but are short of experience at this level. South Korea’s route one approach to Son Heung-Min should play into their hands but a possible Round of 16 clash against Brazil should be playing on Low and Germany’s minds.

Their two matches have offered no concrete evidence that a long tournament run can be expected of Germany, and ‘Germanness’ can only bail them out so many times.