How did Germany revive their World Cup hopes?
Charlie Dear | 26 June 2018
Where did Die Mannschaft get it so right?
Germany made hard work of it but finally grabbed the vital goal to keep their World Cup dream alive.
Toni Kroos’ last-minute winner against Sweden has put them back in the mix to qualify.
But after an embarrassing loss to Mexico on match-day one just how did the Germans do it?
The Coral News Team investigates how Jogi Low and the team turned it around.
It was a massive call. But one that ultimately worked for Low, however you want to twist it.
Mesut Ozil had played in every single significant game for the manager since 2010. But with their World Cup hopes hanging by a thread Low elected to leave his number ten on the bench.
Germany lined up with a three-pronged attack of Julian Draxler, Marco Reus and Thomas Muller in behind the rapid Timo Werner.
The tactics were to raid the box and have the full-backs Joshua Kimmich and Jonas Hector foray up and down the flanks.
Toni Kroos and Sebastian Rudy would back up play and pick up the second balls, leaving no role for Ozil.
It’s hard to see where the five-time German player of the year will fit in going forward. Julian Brandt even made a cameo at his expense against Sweden.
The late-winner vindicated his exclusion but surely Ozil’s invention will mean he has some part to play if Germany are to go the distance again.
Introduced a Defensive Midfielder
In the Mexico defeat, there was a palpable hole in the midfield that neither Toni Kroos nor Sami Khedira could fill.
The formation in both games had a 2-2-5-1 feel to them. But this time Germany got away with it.
For how good Jerome Boateng is with the ball at his feet, he can often go marauding off and neglect his defensive duties.
In a team so offensively set-up then the inclusion of Rudy was pivotal. They looked slightly more assured when he was on the pitch.
Perhaps it was telling that immediately after he was forced off with a bloodied nose Sweden struck on the counter-attack.
The fact Germany assistant coach Marcus Sorg is suggesting Rudy could play with a protective mask means they know how big of an impact he had.
Quality came to the fore
They may be exposed defensively but the current champions for a reason. You can leave Ozil out and still have Marco Reus, Thomas Muller and Timo Werner on the field.
But it was Toni Kroos who came up with the defining moment this time.
Despite Reus’ equaliser, the attacking impetus was faltering.
Julian Brandt came off the bench again, and this time hit the post.
But Kroos, who’s regularly the calm at the base of the chaotic attack was the saviour for Die Mannschaft.
His injury-time winner was a touch of quality only gifted to a few.
If Germany are to go deep into this tournament then it may just be based on moments like this.
How do they progress?
Germany are now second in the group three points behind Mexico.
They know they must match Sweden’s score against El Tri to progress.
After the last-gasp win, Low will keep the bulk of the team the same.
Jerome Boateng’s suspension will bring Mats Hummels back into the side. He could bring a little more solidity alongside Antonio Rudiger.
Centre-back Niklas Sule may even play a part in the rest of the tournament.
Kimmich had been in great form for Bayern last season but will need to stay disciplined defensively.
Manuel Neuer was touch and go to travel to Russia, but he kept his country in the game against Sweden and will be needed again.
Germany may not be playing the most impressive football, but none of the top nations are.
They had to show their mettle on the way to their 2014 win in Brazil and will have to do it all over again here!