Soccer Football - World Cup - Germany Press Conference - Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow, Russia - June 16, 2018 Germany coach Joachim Low during the press conference REUTERS/Gleb Garanich

 Germany must defend as a team when they host world champions France on Thursday to get some measure of redemption for their World Cup flop and make a fresh start, Coach Joachim Loew said.

Germany, 2014 world champions, crashed out of the World Cup in Russia in June at the group stage, their earliest exit in 80 years in the tournament.

Their inaugural Nations League encounter against France is the first game for both teams since the World Cup.

Midfielder Toni Kroos said the Germans were itching to prove the Russia debacle was just a fluke.

Loew in recent weeks blamed his risky attacking tactics that ended up leaving the team exposed at the back as a major reason for their shock World Cup exit.

The Germans must now settle into the role of underdogs against France who deserved the world title after having been the world’s best team in the past few years, he said.

Loew also ruled out the return of midfielder Mesut Ozil, who retired from international football after the World Cup, claiming he was the victim of racism, following a furore over a photograph with him and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan.  (Reuters)

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