To find the last time Germany actually managed to beat Brazil one would have to go back all the way to 1993. Germany were still using a libero, Effenberg had flowing blonde hair and Klinsmann was still some time away from living next to the set of Baywatch. Since then, the teams met five times, with Germany drawing one and losing the other four. With Brazil currently very much a team in transition and Germany’s seemingly endless assembly line of talent this was as good an opportunity to win as any other.
And take that opportunity is exactly what Germany did. Löw’s side outplayed Brazil for most of the match and at times appeared as if they had learned the game on the beaches of Rio instead of their Brazilian counterparts. Fantastic performances by Hummels, Götze, Schürrle, and Kroos ensured that Germany beat Brazil for the first time in 18 years, an excellent advertisement for German football and as good a preparation match as any ahead of the 2012 European Championship in the Ukraine and Poland.
With Khedira and Özil staying with Madrid to prepare for pre-season, Löw chose 19-year-old Mario Götze to deputize for the playmaker. Questions also surrounded who would play at right back, Löw eventually settling on Träsch over Höwedes and Boateng. Kroos also partnered Schweinsteiger in midfield in Khedira’s absence with Podolski and Gomez still preferred despite questionable performances for the National Team.
First Half – Germany better side but fail to make chances count
Löw’s side started well and put Brazil under pressure from the get go, pinning them back and rarely affording them the ball. Just six minutes in Götze created space for himself on the right after trapping a Lahm cross and brilliantly tipping it past Santos only for his shot to be saved by Cesar. The chance was characteristic of Germany’s and Götze’s movement, which caused Ramires and Ralf problems and allowed Kroos, Götze and Müller to continuously probe Brazil’s backline. Germany continued to pile forward but lacked the final touch or incisiveness to make it count and went into the break goalless.
Brazil had their fair share of chances as well. Their biggest threat was the skilled young Neymar who constantly go the best of makeshift right back Träsch. Löw selected him because his speed was meant to match that of Neymar but Träsch was caught up the field quite a bit and struggled against Neymar’s pace and trickery. Menezes’s best hope of scoring in the first half was to catch Germany on the counter and exploit their high defensive line using the speed of players like Pato, Robinho and Neymar and it nearly worked was it not for the valiant defending of Hummels who denied everything thrown at him. Other than that, Brazil were not their usual selves and appeared to lack a certain game plan or shape, players often making unrecognized runs or defenders being positionally irresponsible.
Part of Germany’s problems in the first half had to do with the distinct lack of mobility from Podolski and Gomez, both of which failed as link up options for Germany’s midfield and were seemingly absent from the game. While Müller and Götze always moved off each other Podolski remained wide for most of the half while Gomez’s lack of pace meant he was an easy mark for Lucio and Thiago Silva. In addition, Gomez’s failure to drop deep to help open channels meant Germany had to resort to a more direct and predictable pattern that made it easier for Lucio and Silva to intercept. Germany played well and dominated most of the half but still lacked certain pieces that would fully unlock their potential and Brazil’s backline.
Second Half – Löw addresses Germany’s first half problems and wins match
Löw noticed the on field issues before the half ended and already started instructing Schürrle, a more mobile and creative player, to get ready. In addition to removing Podolski Löw also took off Gomez for Klose. Almost like clockwork, the changes began to visibly impact the game. Germany were almost instantaneously more fluid in their movement and unpredictable in their plays. A little over 10 minutes into the second half the dynamic and hard working Schürrle dispossessed an advanced Alves and sent it down to Klose and Götze who combine to set up Kroos in the box, drawing a penalty that Schweinsteiger coolly converted. Germany were in full swing now and the combination play and mobility of Götze, Klose and Schürrle gave them the momentum and confidence to increase their lead. Germany did just that only six minutes later. Kroos picked up the ball ahead of the halfway line and threaded a precise through ball to the onrunning Götze who rounded Cesar for a 2-0 lead and a fantastic team goal.
Brazil pulled a goal back through a penalty of their own but by now Germany had gained complete control of the match and bewildered the Brazilians with their play. On 80 minutes Schweinsteiger dispossessed Santos and set up Schürrle for an emphatic shot in the top left corner. The most important talking point about the goal was Schürrle’s presence in the center despite replacing left sided Podolski, a quality that was very much missing from Podolski and Schürrle provides in abundance. Götze nearly tripled their lead soon after but was ruled offside by the assistant referee. Danger man Neymar pulled one back again with a brilliant individual goal in stoppage time but the game had been won by then.
A few things should finally have been cleared up for Löw after this match:
- Löw no longer has to worry about an “abwehrchef” or defensive organizer/leader. Hummels provided a presence and confidence in the back not seen on the German national team in a long time. The only question remaining is who will partner Mats going forward.
- It should also be clear by now that Podolski no longer warrants a starting spot in spite of his record. Simply put, more compatible and effective options exist and the sooner players like Götze and Schürrle are fully integrated, the better. The contrast between the two was so stark today it is no longer an issue of contention. Recent matches have proven that Germany thrives with more intelligent and creative players on the pitch.
- The Klose/Gomez debate continues? Gomez’s recent form was insufficient against Brazil and Klose’s attributes are more suited for Germany’s system and style of play. With Klose at a club that will most likely provide him with consistent playing time it might very well mean Gomez has to sit again, at least for another year.
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