The Germany Under-21 team has come in for criticism from the country's media after failing to qualify for the semi-finals of the European Championships in Israel.
After two defeats in as many games against the Netherlands and Spain the Germans are without a point and facing early elimination from the tournament. On Wednesday, Germany will take on Russia in a meaningless match for the third spot in Group B.
"We have failed," Tottenham midfielder Lewis Holtby said after the 1-0 defeat against Spain. "It was not down to our attitude. Spain was just better than us."
The captain was the only player to have been capped for the senior team. Established Germany players like Julian Draxler, 19, Ilkay Gundogan, 22, Andre Schurrle, 22, or injured midfielders Toni Kroos and Mario Gotze were never considered for the squad despite being eligible to play.
"I won't comment," Holtby said of their omission, before admitting: "Even with those players it would have been a difficult task against Spain. I don't mourn after those players. It would also not be fair towards my team-mates."
While Borussia Dortmund midfielder Gundogan was rested, Leverkusen midfielder Schurrle and Schalke starlet Draxler took part in Germany's U.S. tour earlier this month, as part of an agreement with coach Joachim Low, who preferred to grant the players experience of the senior team.
"This tournament is well-staffed with class. You have to take that into consideration if you want to be successful," Germany Under-21 coach Rainer Adrion said. When questioned if it made more sense for the likes of Draxler to play friendlies he replied: "You have to think about that. The best thing for young players is to compete on a very high level."
The German Football League general manager Andreas Rettig added: "The German Under-21 team has to raise the claim to start with a top team and win the title."
The German concept was also widely criticised in the German media.
"At the Under-21 European Championships in Israel the German national team flopped during the group stages - with an uninspired football that reminded of the past instead of the future. That raises question about the DFB youth concept," Sueddeutsche Zeitung commented while sportschau.de counted the various German youth teams failing to impress internationally.
"The results can be perceived as a warning signal. Maybe the German youth football is not as good as seen from the in and outside. A good question would be, how those responsible at the DFB judge the situation.
"But: Robin Dutt, [Matthias] Sammer's successor as sporting director, has already left the association for Werder Bremen. And the DFB is left looking for another successor, under whom titles can be won."