Poland 2 –2 Germany – Thrilling finale and what Löw can take away from this match

Next year’s EURO hosts Poland played a scrappy 2-2 draw against Germany in preparation for next summer’s tournament.  Löw’s men had to come from behind twice to earn the draw with Kroos scoring his first National Team goal from the penalty spot and Cacau equalizing with the last kick of the game.  A Man of the Match performance from Arsenal goalkeeper Szczesney and a goal each from Dortmund players Lewandowski and Blaszczykowski rounded up a good performance from the Poles and highlighted some of Germany’s outstanding issues ahead of a tournament they are very much tipped to win.

With qualification ensured the friendly provided Joachim Löw with the perfect platform to experiment and get closer to finding the ideal formula for next summer.  After their impressive win against Austria, Löw was afforded the luxury of resting certain key players with Schweinsteiger, Neuer and Özil all given the day off.  Mertesacker made his return to the starting line up after an extended injury spell while Träsch again filled in at right back.  Jerome Boateng was given the chance to prove himself at center back after having played out wide throughout his National Team career so far.  Leverkusen captain Simon Rolfes anchored the midfield while Götze took up Özil’s playmaker position.  Klose and Podolski remained in the starting line up to face their country of birth while Schürrle started in place of Müller on the right.

Löw continued with his new 4-1-4-1 variation, a line up that served him well so far against Brazil and Austria although its defensive qualities remain suspect.  After unsuccessfully experimenting with a 4-4-2 as the primarily alternative to the 4-2-3-1 earlier this year this new formation appears a steady compromise of the available personnel without losing much of the firepower offered by his standard formation.  Nevertheless, despite the inconsequential nature of the game and the fact that Germany are now unbeaten in 17 matches against Poland, it did underlined some of Germany’s continuing problems and serves as a valuable learning experience for Löw with less than a year until the tournament.

Formations and key movement.

 The Match 

Peszko was Poland's biggest chance to score, always getting the better of Träsch.

The game served up plenty of chances for both sides from the beginning.  Germany’s revised formation upfront is even more attacking than its predecessor and with such an offensive philosophy they are always bound to create goal-scoring chances.  Poland coach Smuda, on the other hand, had his side play more cautiously but encouraged quick transitions and direct forward passing when getting the ball.  Not many teams will have more ball possession than Germany when facing them, so relentless pressing off the ball and fast counters with it is the best way to expose this German team, and Poland did that quite well throughout the match.

Germany had the first couple of chances though and characteristically started the match with a high intensity tempo. Klose, Rolfes and Lahm were all denied in the first ten minutes by the formidable Szczesney.  Every time Germany came forward though they exposed space at the back and on 11 minutes Köln’s own Peszko nearly gave Poland the lead after being played through by Lewandowski, Wiese making the save.  The early chance was a sign of things to come, namely, the irresponsible forward runs by Träsch and slow reactions by Mertesacker giving the Poles the most ideal opportunity to score.  Just as Germany looked weak in defense, Poland were most vulnerable on their right side.  Lahm and Podolski were continuously presented with the space and time to make runs down their left and past Wasilewski.  Podolski scored on 24 minutes after being played through by Götze but was called offsides.  It was not the first time that Podolski found himself in that position, being waved off by the ref several times throughout the match but his runs behind the backline were indicative of the freedom the player had down that side.

Rolfes also struggled against the mobile Lewandowski whose runs dragged him out of position.

As dangerous as Poland seemed on the counter, they had to rely on their goalkeeper to bail out a seemingly nervous backline as Szczesney continued to deny Germany before half-time.  Kroos and Klose both failed to take advantage on the half hour mark with their best chance coming two minutes before the break.  Podolski was once again presented with ample space on the right, releasing a shot on goal that Szczesney blocked.  The ball fell to the feet of Klose whose rebound was again blocked by the goalkeeper and then sent over the bar the third time around.  Germany created the majority of the chances and would have been ahead had it not been for Szczesney’s heroics but they too were vulnerable on the break with Peszko constantly getting behind Träsch and Mertesacker failing to deal with Lewaondowski’s movement.

Löw brought on Schmelzer and Cacau for Lahm and Klose in the second half and Germany picked up where they left off with chances from both Kroos and Cacau just five minutes in.  Then against the run of play but in alignment with Germany’s first half deficiencies, Poland took the lead on 55 minutes.  Germany were again caught on the break.  This time Blaszczykowski played through the oncoming Dudka past the statuesque Mertesacker and Rolfes into Germany’s box, Wiese having to come out and make the challenge.  The referee let play continue and Lewandowski picked up the loose ball and gave his side the lead.  Finally Germany’s loose defensive organization was punished and predictably so.   Löw pulled Podolski and brought on Müller with Schürrle switching over to his more comfortable left.  Müller instantly invigorated Germany and won his side a penalty after a great combination play down the right between him and Götze.  It was the direct threat Germany had lacked down that side up to then and Kroos calmly converted to level the match.

Müller's introduction changed the game.

With the trio of Schürrle, Müller and Götze on the pitch now at the same time and playing in their preferred positions Germany’s attacks looked more fluid and unpredictable.  Löw called Götze over with 15 minutes remaining and gave him specific instructions.  My guess would be that he told him to play closer to his two wide players.  A minute later he laid the ball off to Schürrle whose curling shot forced yet another save from the busiest man on the pitch.  A bit subdued before, Götze was now buzzing with Schürrle and Müller playing off him and Poland resorted to fouls to halt the playmaker.  Glowacki was shown his second yellow on 81 minutes after taking down Götze, putting Germany in the ideal position to take the game and ending the game in dramatic fashion.

That drama could not have been scripted better by a professional screenwriter.  Instead of capitalizing on their momentum, Germany conceded a penalty in the 90th minute.  Boateng failed to track a long ball from the back and substitute Brozek was taken down by Wiese. Germany conceded on the break yet again with Blaszczykowski converting what surely looked like the match winner.  It all looked over when with the last play of the match Müller picked up the ball and beat Wawrzyniak on the right to set up Cacau’s late equalizer. The blushes were spared.

Lessons Learned 

Cacau's last minute goal is indicative of the team's progress.

This game was reminiscent of the Australia match, which Löw used as a template for experimentation.  They lost that match so this can be seen as an improvement but similar issues remain.  Löw took responsibility for the showing after the match, “It is also my responsibility when so many things do not function, especially when making so many changes.”  He did however reinforce the value of a game like this, “Not everything must function perfectly in a test match…we created many chances in the first half…the fact that we came from behind twice shows me that we have other options.”  Löw has done well to integrate many of Germany’s young players and their pool of depth has increased exponentially.  To maintain their attacking potential amidst changes in personnel is a vital component for a side aiming to be the best in Europe and Germany have proven again that they can create chances and score goals on a consistent basis.

On one hand, Germany are unbeaten in six games and find no difficulties in scoring goals. They have lost only once in nine matches in 2011, that being the friendly against Australia in March.  On the other, they have now conceded nine goals in those six matches, a worrying statistic. The constant changes to the backline have no doubt been part of this instability and the sooner Löw decides on a definitive center back pairing and right back the better off Germany will be defensively.  It remains to be seen who the most ideal partner is for Hummels and who Löw will prefer on the right.  Neither Träsch or Höwedes are natural right backs and while Andreas Beck is a viable options it appears as if Löw could favor Boateng there instead going forward.

Moreover, the 4-1-4-1 optimizes the plethora of attacking players Germany has as its’ disposal but it also leaves them short on the break, as evidenced numerous times against Brazil, Austria and Poland.  Rolfes struggled by himself against Poland and Kroos’s role still does not seem clearly defined.  With such a formation the first line of defense must be the attack and midfielders and thus it might also prove useful to utilize Schürrle from the start considering his defensive qualities.  Löw has a lot to ponder but the team has progressed well since the World Cup and their options have now doubled.  There are worse things than having too much talent to work with and if Löw puts the missing pieces together the “favorites” tag will not be far off.

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Cristian Nyari

Cristian is a football writer and analyst living in New York City, fascinated with the history and study of the beautiful game and all it entails. Follow Cristian on twitter @Cnyari


  1. Certainly improved since 2010 but he still tends to “disappear” a lot in games. His performances have dropped as a whole since Van Bommel left so he still has to come into his own a bit.

  2. If I was in tharge, this would have been my team:






    My shadow team:





    Lahm should be played at the right side where he is most solid defensively. Kroos not good enough defensively for CM, not dangerous enough attackingwise for an offensive role.

  3. I must say that Schweinsteiger is a great leader on the pitch. He does not hide. Of course he might be a bit quiet verbaly.

  4. These are the two words the young guns must take to heart:

    RESPONSIBILITY AND INITIATIVE – Ballack, Kahn and even Klose have this… the leader’s mentality… Imagine Bastian or even Kroos with this… they can become a world class pair

  5. It always makes me feel weird if a team doesn’t have a clear leader on the pitch. It must be because the first tournament I properly followed was the 2002 World Cup, and I saw Kahn drag the team to the finals pretty much by himself (Ballack and Klose helped a bit too). Left me a long-lasting impression.

  6. Ooh, the future. If people say that the new generation of players do not have alpha male leadership skills, then I think of Can and how he can become a “Ballack” in that sense. Dude was brilliant for Germany U-17 in the World Cup, took responsibility and scored the important goals despite being a central midfielder. He could easily be the long-term partner or even successor to Schweini.

  7. Dear Cristian,
    how much would I love to see you write an article about the future of the German NT keeping in mind all the points that your readers mention. Also try to incorporate the impact the up and coming players like Julian Draxler, Moritz Leitner, Samed Yesil etc. could bring.

    Looking forward to hear from you 🙂

  8. Saying a ‘worst’ performance doesn’t mean much to me since I don’t really think he has been that poor for Germany in the past 2 years, also remember that he had not had a consistent partner in central defence since Metzelder’s chronic injuries returned after Euro 2008. He looked good with Friedrich, who I consider Hummels to be similar to but Arne’s injuries have meant that he is out of the picture now as well. I would say that in the 4-1-4-1 I would not see a future for Mertesacker but rather Boateng and Hummels. That being said, I do not also think that the 4-1-4-1 is Germany’s best formation. Mertesacker is Germany’s 2nd best defender IMO and therefore with the 4-2-3-1 we are able to have a good balance between defence and attack.

  9. Boateng hasn’t been playing a central role of late. Given that, his performance against Poland was quite satisfactory. He needs more playing time to get used to this position and I am sure at the end of the season, he will take his game to a different level.

  10. New generation of footballers is devoid of those types of characters of leaders so a new collective leadership has to form that involves everyone in my opinion. Lahm is obviously not the outspoken kind and Schweinsteiger leaves much to be desired as times as well so it will have to be a team effort from the inside out and outside in.

    Also don’t think Löw is done with the likes of Rolfes, Träsch and Mertesacker yet. On the contrary, I think they will very much remain in the picture and Mertesacker could even slot back in as a starter. There’s a reason he used 7 different backlines in the 9 matches so far in 2011, its because he has not decided on who to pair yet and with Merte back it could finally address that issue for him.

  11. I agree with the people here who want to ger Andreas Beck into the team. He is the best natural pure right back in Germany right now.

    Traesch, Aogo, Rolfes, Jansen, Marin, and probably Mertesacker will find it hard to get in a spot in this new look team.

    We have Reus, the Benders, Beck in the running.

    The thing with the last decade’s Mannschaft was BALLACK. He was the true center of everything we built. So for Kroos to take the mantle, it will be a heavy but encouraging task for him… Bastian is no Ballack, but I think Germany need a Ballack-like presence in the field…a leader, a general, a Little Kaiser so to speak…who can rise up to the challenge, be like a Van Bommel, take the risks, and of course, score the crucial goals.

    I hope Ballack just retires AND HELPS the national team… be like a Klinsmann to them…since he was the true leader of the last generation of the team… he can’t be discarded just like that

  12. Boateng wasn’t perfect yesterday but he had a much better game than Mertesacker. Boateng’s athleticism and pace is more consistent with the rest of the team. I would prefer him or Höwedes alongside Hummels to be honest, it would be a more stabile complimentary backline than anything we’ve seen so far.

  13. No, of course Boateng was at fault not because of Bayerns system per se. He was because he played the striker onside in that instance.
    Three of the back four have pushed upfield, but Boateng is waffling about. Mertesacker does not lose his striker but lets him run neatly into what he thinks is the activated offside trap, only to find he is being let down by Boateng, who kept the trap open. Now he does have to chase the striker after all, looking stupid in the process.
    Should Merte have assured the trap was set? I think ideally he should not have to. Football’s too quick for that. A centreback should be able to rely upon his partners positioning and not have to have it as an extra worry when he’s dealing with his striker.
    I stand by my opinion that Boateng was the culprit in this scene. We may need to agree to disagree.

  14. Wait, so… Mertesacker was not at fault because he’s used to playing a high defensive line, and Boateng WAS at fault because he’s used to a deep line? Think about what you’re saying a bit…

  15. Is it just me? I thought Boateng was disastrous last night. He was sloppy and negligent all over. There were several misplaced passes, he was inattentive (he alone is to blame for the second polish goal) and not thorough in his positioning. There was one particular scene in the first half that oddly enough Mertesacker got all the flak for: He apparently let (I believe it was) Kuba “escape” behind him – but the thing is, it was Boateng who needlessly kept the striker onside in the first place. If Boateng keeps his position in the back four, which is what Merte has to be able to rely on, OF COURSE he will let Kuba happily dash off into the offside trap. That is how Mertesacker is used to playing with Werder’s high back line, after all. If it weren’t for Boatengs sloppiness, which in this scene bordered on sabotage, there is no danger at all. Am I wrong?
    Anyway, I wouldn’t even consider recalling Boateng after last night’s match unless he cleans up his act. My two centrebacks would be Badstuber with either Hummels or Mertesacker, depending on the opposition. Instead of Boateng, Philipp Wollscheid should receive a call-up and get a chance to prove himself.

  16. Özil and Müller are already world class as far as I’m concerned, top 5 in their positions, no question about it.

  17. I would love to see that backline but I very much doubt we’ll see it. I think Löw might not consider Beck because he is too attack minded and with Lahm’s offensive approach on the left it could make the side even more vulnerable defensively. Either that or he might just not like him enough.

    I’d keep Özil in the center but overall I would again love to see that front four, it would be fantastic over time no matter who plays where but it might be too much to ask for of Löw’s, he’s not such a big risk taker and likes to stay in his comfort zone.

  18. Mueller is no attacker and is left of all of his superb possibilities in the position of a sole attacker. He looses some of his class already playing as right midfielder – but has shown at the world cup that is probably the best option. Even in this position he can play world class.

    Germany has the possibility of having two really world class players in the next 2 years – maybe even four if you count Schweinsteiger and Neuer. Mueller and Oezil. Gomez – who mainly lives of Mueller’s assists – and Ronaldo – that depends on Oezil’s – are currently number two and three in the Castrol Ranking – maybe that shows their value. Sure – an attacker is always depending on somebody else to assist – but this two young ones know how to do it – some of their assists are just brillant. Gomez efficiency is a lot better than Ronaldos is.

    They just did the next step in their development and have to show, that they can do that at the big games, too.

    Goetze is needed as Oezil replacement – he wears himself out because of his game style and has difficulties to go the full game in his style with full concentration. That is the reason why Mourinho lets him seldom play all the game – something you normally do not do with such a key player. If Goetze can come in for say half an hour and play his game in a style that you do not see the difference too much, that would be great.

    You have to play a system that is not to difficult and can be adjusted with the opponent. No system that you have to have the right players for – we are not Spain, where everybody learns to play the style for ages.

    Putting in new players – there is just one spot open – the right defender position. Everything else is taken. I even thing Badstuber and Hummels will be the defenders – even if that might be still in change.

    Oh, yes, their is so much talents – none of which really has proved more than one season or on an international floor that he is eligible. Actually – playing the team into a system is far more valuable for the Cup than finding out if player X oder player Y has 1 per cent more potential – if that player does not show real star ability…

  19. The problem is Mertesacker’s pace to begin with, which is why a Hummels and Boateng are superior options. Some of his worst performances have come in the 4-2-3-1, the 4-1-4-1 being relatively new still. Merte is very good in close quarter challenges and tackling in front of his marker but anything else he is left in the dust. That’s why he does not fit the team’s overall style of play, it requires defenders who can read plays and react quickly, make up lost space fast and of course be able to start plays from the back. Unfortunately he lacks in all these departments.

  20. Mertesacker has been pretty good in the 4-2-3-1, especially over the last couple of years. Germany conceded 7 in the 14 matches he played in last year, which coincided with his poor form for Bremen. Against Argentina and Spain the 4-2-3-1 worked very well defensively and Mertesacker had great matches in those. It is when Germany look to play with a high backline that obviously Mertesacker’s lack of speed it more likely to be caught out, but with 2 DM’s in front of him, Schweinsteiger and Khedira most likely, he is not forced to push out and try to intercept open midfielders like he was yesterday.

    Trasch was horrible and he was hardly ever in position to cover Mertesacker when Poland attacked, Peszcko was always open and therefore Mertesacker was forced wider which ultimately gave the Poland attackers much more room to run in behind him. Also Rolfes is much slower and lethargic then Schweinsteiger while Kroos was not offering defensive help so it basically was always going to be difficult to deal with Poland’s quick counters.

    Hummels and Badstuber would’ve struggled today as well, maybe not as much, I don’t agree with the formation at all. Brazil and Austria both caused trouble with their counter attacks so I don’t think it was a matter of personnel today.

  21. I feel that Low should consider giving Andreas Beck a chance at the right side of defense given his string of brilliant displays at domestic level. He is the only true wingback in the NT now. Christian Trasch or Benedikt Howedes can be used as backup in this position.

    With Lahm moving to left back, Marcel Schmelzer is the first choice backup. Dennis Aogo is a more technically competent option but given his inconsistency and his propensity on making rash challenges, he may not make the cut.

    A Boateng-Hummels duo may just turn out to be better then a Hummels-Badstuber combination. Boateng’s pace and strength gives him the edge over the slow Badstuber or the even slower Mertesacker. Further, Badstuber’s stylistic simillarity to Hummels may never cause the pair to gel well. Hummels can play his natural Beckenbauer-like game going forward and assisting the bulid-up play whereas Boateng can stay back and pick up the scraps in a role similar to Neven Subotic.

  22. Brilliant read as usual Cristian 🙂

    My first team (from right to left) to play at WC 2014 will be


    Manuel Neuer will be our first choice goalkeeper and by the look of how things are going, it won’t be long before Marc-Andre ter Stegen plays the Lehmann to Neuer’s Kahn.

    I feel that Low should consider giving Andreas Beck a chance at the right side of defense given his string of brilliant displays at domestic level. He is the only true wingback in the NT now. Christian Trasch or Benedikt Howedes can be used as backup in this position.

    ‘Captain Courageous’ Philipp Lahm gets to play the left wingback role, by far his most effective position. In fact, I feel that Jogi Low has been sensible in moving him to the left after Jupp Heynckes decided to use him at that position. Lahm’s attacking quality is on full display when he is on the left as compared to the right. Marcel Schmelzer is the first chice backup for Lahm. Dennis Aogo is a more technically competent option but given his inconsistency and his propensity on making rash challenges, he may not make the cut.

    And I agree with vic as regards the center-back pairing. A Boateng-Hummels duo may just turn out to be better then a Hummels-Badstuber combination. Boateng’s pace and strength gives him the edge over the slow Badstuber or the even slower Mertesacker. Further, Badstuber’s stylistic simillarity to Hummels may never cause the pair to gel well. Hummels can play his natural Beckenbauer-like game going forward and assisting the bulid-up play whereas Boateng can stay back and pick up the scraps in a role similar to Neven Subotic. Strikers who escape Hummel’s marking (highly unlikely :D) have to face the imposing physique of Boateng. And, I can’t think of any striker in the footballing world capable of winning a wrestling match against the former Hamburg man (skeptics may ask Arjen Robben ;))

    Howedes will naturally get to play as the understudy considering his pace and dynamism. I am also impressed by Serdar Tasci’s recent performances after last year’s disastrous campaign for Stuttgart and may as well like to see him on the bench.

    The ‘staggered double pivot’ comprising of a true holding midfielder in Bastian Schweinsteiger and a world class box-to-box midfielder in Toni Kroos is certainly an improvement over the stereotypical ‘double 6’. Schweinsteiger can screen the defense and use his game reading to nullify opposition attacks (similar to how he nullified the threat of Lio Messi in WC 2010). Kroos can be the ball playing midfielder and be the perfect link between the defense and attack. Kroos’ seamless integration to the NT has mirrored the development of former captain and midfield dynamo Michael Ballack. He is a threat when scoring from set pieces as well. I wonder why Herr Heynckes hasn’t yet tried out the same combination at Munich. Christian Trasch, Ilkay Gundogan, Sebastian Rudy or the Bender brothers can be used as suitable backups for this position.

    Watching Mesut Ozil’s game for Real Madrid, I personally feel that he can be accommodated on the right wing from where he can cut towards the centre to pass or cross. Though he plays a central role in Madrid, most of his assists have come from wide locations. He has greatly improved his crossing and is a much better finisher than he was. His technique and trickery imparts a ‘Riberyesque’ quality to the game.

    Andre Schurrle’s explosive pace and dribbling is reminiscent of the mercurial Arjen Robben. And unlike the ‘Flying Dutchman’, Schurrle’s willingness to pass the ball makes him a complete team player. With Schurrle’s rapid development and the CL experience he will gain at Leverkusen, Prinz Poldi could soon find himself relegated to the bench.

    In fact, I believe that Ozil and Schurrle can be the ‘Robbery’ combination for Die Mannschaft, although, they must work on their upper body strength to achieve the desired results.

    Mario Gotze, the shooting star of Dortmund can take the mantle of the central playmaker provided he continues his stellar ascent. Even at this age, his style of play resembles a much refined Ozil. Gotze, as opposed to Ozil is much more of a direct attacking threat. Moreover, his ball distribution is enhanced by his ambidexterity.

    The front three can rotate among themselves for devastating effects.

    Marko Marin and Marco Reus can be able replacements for the wingers where their fleet footed pace and directness can leave defenders flat footed at the later stages of the match. Another suitable candidate for a role in the attacking trio is Schalke playmaker Lewis Holtby given the upward trajectory his career has taken.

    The biggest headache for Jogi Low would be to find an able replacement for the influential Miroslav Klose. The former Munich hitman has become an indispensable part of the team because of his understanding of Low’s system and his telepathic connection with the front three and would no wonder leave big boots to fill. Mario Gomez given his lack of pace and technique is simply not the option (I still don’t understand why he is so over hyped). His static play is not suited for Low’s system which lays emphasis on dynamism and work rate. Cacau who has neared the thirty mark may not even make it to the trip to Brazil.

    And considering the lack of world class strikers, Low’s worries do not seem to end. But why look further when you have ‘Der Neu Bomber’ at your disposal. Thomas Muller’s awareness, technique and eye for pass may be more useful when playing behind a lone frontman but given his versatility, he can be converted into an efficient lone striker. He boasts excellent positional sense, work rate, clinical finishing and pace and could easily be the man to spearhead the German attack. Imo, Jogi Low must consider playing him up front.

    Other options are Julian Scheiber of Stuttgart and Nils Petersen of Munich whom Low has continued to neglect.

    Seeing the continuing flow of burgeoning talent Germany’s youth academies produce, the future looks rosy for Die Mannschaft. The new crop of attacking players including the likes of Samed Yesil, Okan Aydin, Levant Aycicek, Julian Draxler, Florien Trinks, Emre Can, Moritz Leitner and Sonny Kittel hopefully live up to the hype.

  23. Don’t underrate Szczczczczzsszxzxzcxcsssesny, he’s been responsible for Arsenal not being even worse than they are now. Dude’s a great goalkeeper.

  24. I suggest a slight variant which sounds a bit like “4-1-3-1-1” in which the attacking midfielder is more of a 2nd striker and poor little Kroos being given a more clear role in attack, standing where Gotze is in this match.

    Meanwhile, We’ll have a Lahm-Hummels-Boateng/Howedes-Boateng/Howedes back line, or whoever is better than Howedes whom I have not included.

    But then again, we can use the 4-2-3-1, which has served us well.

    I don’t know whether to choose 4-1-4-1 or 4-2-3-1 because I am seriously worried of Germany’s goal leakage and at the same time, if Germany’s attack has problems against Szczesney, how about Cech, or Casillas, or Buffon, or even Joe Hart for that matter?

  25. Mertesacker was poor even in the 4-2-3-1 I’m afraid. It’s simply a matter of whether he can keep up or not and for the last year or two it doesn’t look like it. Doubt Löw will move on it though.

  26. Mertesacker is too slow to play with the new look german NT. he’s just slow in every aspect along with his pace. It takes him an extra 2-3 seconds to pass anywhere compared to boateng, badstuber, and hummels. He just doesnt fit in, and Rolfes is another who needs to go.

  27. We can play slow, tall center backs like Mertesacker with the 4-2-3-1 because of the dynamism of a khedira-schweini pairing.

    but with a 4-1-4-1…i recommend a Hummels-Boateng pairing. They’re gonna be faster than Badstuber and Mertesacker. Hoewedes will be the first de-facto sub for either of Hummels or Boateng in a 4-1-4-1 since he’s also got pace.

    Germany can fine-tune this 4-1-4-1, but Kroos’ role has to be clear… he has to remain a true CM and Bastian a true DM for this to work out.

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