Germany coach Joachim Loew is facing a barrage of criticism from the country's media for his side's semifinal exit from Euro 2012.
Kicker said on its website Saturday that Loew "gambled away" Germany's best chance of ending a 16-year wait for international honours by "seriously altering his lineup and tactics" for Thursday's 2-1 defeat to Italy.
The sports magazine said the surprise inclusion of Bayern Munich midfielder Toni Kroos to deal with the inform Andrea Pirlo backfired when Germany lost its balance "on the field and in the heads."
"The coach went too far," former Germany player Olaf Thon told broadcaster RTL. "He's the substitution king of the Euros."
Loew accepted responsibility for the loss to Italy but defended his changes, telling reporters on the return flight to Frankfurt: "With hindsight you can always say I would have done this or that differently."
The 52-year-old coach, whose contract runs through the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, added: "The ambition continues unabated to go far in the next tournaments as well, and perhaps reach the final. I think nobody will suffer [this] blow for a long time."
Former Germany coach Juergen Klinsmann had words of support for Loew, who was his assistant during the 2006 World Cup in Germany.
Klinsmann, the current United States coach, told the Stuttgarter Nachrichten newspaper: "The team is nowhere near the end of its development. It was the youngest team of the tournament and soon there will be even younger players forcing their way in."
But German daily Bild says Loew "lost a great chunk of his magic" and "Loew messed up. Loew really gambled it away."
Bild blamed his tactical changes for sending the wrong signal to his players and damaging their confidence.
"It happened then, as it had to: The Italians had already sung us into the ground with their anthem. [Mario] Balotelli alone fired our boy band team away. And Italy showed us once again how to play a semifinal. Mentality is often more important that quality," Bild said.
The mass circulation daily reserved special criticism for the players, however, saying captain Philipp Lahm "waffles like a politician," Bastian Schweinsteiger "will never be a leader," and striker Mario Gomez "only had nice hair" against Italy. It addded that the 27-year-old Lukas Podolski "should go into international retirement."