Germany’s World Cup Report Card
The dream was finally realized. Germany are World champions again after waiting 24 years. Let’s take a look back at how each player performed in this truly historic tournament.
Manuel Neuer – 1
The Germany number one played a flawless tournament. Neuer won the golden glove at the end of the tournament, declaring him the best keeper of the 2014 World Cup, and rightly so. His performance against Algeria, which saw the Bayern keeper intervene, almost switching positions from keeper to sweeper, were vital in securing Germany a place in the quarter finals. Furthermore, the Bayern player pulled off numerous great saves against Brazil and his last minute reflex against Benzema in the match against France kept a vital clean sheet. After this tournament there is little doubt that Neuer is currently the best keeper in the world.
Roman Weidenfeller – N/A
Dortmund number one keeper didn’t get to play a single minute, but his comments wishing Manuel Neuer a speedy recovery ahead of the tournament were classy. After all, Neuer’s eventual recovery came at Weidenfeller’s expense.
Ron-Robert Zieler – N/A
Ter Stegen or Leno may have seemed like more quality options, but Zieler didn’t complain about being the third choice keeper and kept a happy face throughout the entire World Cup.
Philipp Lahm – 1
What can you say about Lahm that hasn’t been said already? It seems as though no matter where you play him, he still finds a way to contribute. In Brazil, he was again the epitome consistency, first playing in midfield throughout the group stages followed by his old right-back spot in the knockout rounds. When needed, he was always there. Lahm is without a doubt the world’s best fullback as well as midfielders. How many players can have that said about them?
Mats Hummels – 1.5
The Dortmund man excelled as the premier defender on Germany’s backline in Brazil, plus Groß Mats contributed two important goals, especially what became the game winner against France in the quarter-finals. Hummels led Germany in tackles (2.7) and interceptions (1.8), plus contributed many a key ball clearance. These metrics demonstrated Hummels’ ability to protect Germany’s goal both in routine situations and in more desperate situations. Moreover, Hummels averaged almost 50 passes a match (87% completed), including many key forward passes to catalyze German attacks. Only some occasional poor positioning robs Hummels of a perfect score. However, based on that new haircut alone, Mats deserves a perfect 1.0 as the World Cup’s best-looking player.
Jerome Boateng – 2
It is easy to lose track of Jerome Boateng’s performances in Brazil. Mats Hummels’ outstanding form put most defenders at the tournament in the shadow, but the Bayern Munich center-back deserves equal plaudits. In the final against Argentina Boateng was perhaps Germany’s best player. He didn’t put a foot wrong and battled the Argentine attackers for 120 minutes. In Boateng, Hummels also had a reliable and complimentary partner that could be the foundation for Germany’s backline for years to come.
Shkodran Mustafi – 4.5
There weren’t many players in Brazil that you can honestly say had a disappointing tournament but Mustafi was one of them. Unfortunately. Perhaps a bit too much was asked of the Sampdoria defender who had to fill in at fullback, at times quite awkwardly so. Mustafi’s inexperience could partially explain his showings but it also had an ad-on effect on the rest of the team that was not solved until Lahm was moved to right-back. Mustafi will very likely continue to be part of the team despite a disappointing campaign in Brazil.
Per Mertesacker – 3.0
The perfect team player. When Mertesacker was dropped in favor of Mats Hummels in the knockout rounds he took it like a champ. He was on the sidelines supplying water bottles to players during the game and never stopped cheering. He was brought on in extra-time to help Germany protect their lead in the World Cup final and did his job well there too. Mertesacker is probably not starting material anymore given Löw’s options but he remains a very valuable part of the whole.
Benedikt Höwedes – 3.0
Schalke’s skipper was heavily criticised by the German media after a bumpy start into the tournament. However, it is vital to keep in mind that Höwedes isn’t familiar with the position he had to fill during the World Cup. The fact Löw decided to start Höwedes in every match and that he was never subbed off might give an indication that he had done better than expected. At the end of the tournament Höwedes had won most of his duels and especially strong in the air. Furthermore, he even managed to assist Müller’s goal against the United States. All in all a decent tournament by the player, but he’s probably not a long term solution for the left back position.
Erik Durm – N/A
The surprise nomination didn’t get to play a single minute of football, but he’s surely an option for the left back position in the future.
Matthias Ginter – N/A
Another unused sub, however, Ginter might play himself into contention for a place in the team in 2016 if he continues to impress in the Bundesliga.
Toni Kroos 1.5
The 2014 World Cup was Kroos’ global coming-out party. Funny thing is, Kroos earned this party by doing what he always does for Bayern: distribute the ball in and around the box with startling accuracy and terrifying menace. Oh, and don’t forget about that magical volleying foot of his, as he demonstrated against Brazil. His performance in Germany’s history-altering 7-1 decimation of Brazil was, arguably, the dominant performance of the entire tournament. Kroos staged most of Germany’s scoring attempts with his ability to smoothly dribble and pivot around defenders in the attacking third, then stroke precise passes through traffic to the likes of Müller, Özil, or Schweinsteiger. Furthermore, for all Kroos’ individual skill, his interplay with Khedira and Schweinsteiger in shifting midfield triangles was perhaps the decisive factor in Germany advancing to their 4th title. Other than some rash or forced scoring attempts, Kroos played flawlessly. His performance confirmed what Bundesliga followers have known for a season or two now: that Kroos is one of the very best attacking midfielders in the world.
Bastian Schweinsteiger – 1.5
For Bastian Schweinsteiger, the final against Argentina may very well have been a career-defining performance. Germany’s vice-captain was without a doubt the Man of the Match and almost single-handedly willed his team to the win. No matter how bruised and battered he was he remained steadfast and aggressive and helped Germany control the game. He started the tournament with an injury but bounced back brilliantly to achieve the greatest peak of his career. An unforgettable tournament from the Bayern man.
Sami Khedira – 2
Like Schweinsteiger, Khedira started the tournament as a fitness worry but recovered quicker than anyone thought. Still, he struggled to ever reach 100% fitness throughout the campaign and missed the final as a result. Regardless, Khedira was excellent in the group stage and in the semi-final against Brazil. He provided the team with his trademark drive through the middle and was an outspoken leader on the pitch.
Christoph Kramer – 3
If anyone would have said that Kramer, a player who played in the 2. Bundesliga 14 months ago, would start the World Cup final the response would most likely have been accompanied by a great laugh. But Kramer and Germany found themselves in exactly that position. With so many key injuries Löw had to call on the inexperienced midfielder to fill in and gave him his first competitive start in the final. And Kramer held his own among the many more experienced players and showed that he deserves to remain a part of this team going forward.
Kevin Grosskreutz – N/A
The utility player was an unused sub at the tournament. Despite his many fans, Big Kev is likely to remain a fringe player in the near future as well.
André Schürrle – 1.5
Perhaps the surprise of the tournament, Schürrle became Germany’s most effective substitute in World Cup history. He scored three goals off the bench and provided the assist to Götze’s World Cup matchwinner. The former Mainz and Leverkusen player was always engaged, dynamic and on the same page with his teammates. A grand performance from a player who has truly established himself in the team with this tournament.
Thomas Müller – 1
Müller seems to save his best for World Cups. The 24 year old again led Germany in goals during the tournament with 5, including the sensational hat trick against Portugal in the opening round. Who knows how many goals he had in him this tournament, as his potential goal tally suffered from defenders marking the hell out of him after the Portugal match. Throughout the tournament, der Raumdeuter, or “the room interpreter,” became Germany’s main target in the box, as attacking play funneled in his direction. While defenders aggressively closed down Müller, he still managed to find gaps for receiving the ball – is there a more elusive player in football right now? Each time he found the ball, palpable panic ensued for defenders. Moreover, he led Germany in key passes, greatly augmenting his influence on play. Oh, and he carried in nation in the dribbling department. An all-round masterful performance. This World Cup certainly cemented the goofy Müller as Germany’s attacking leader as well as advanced the narrative of him as one of Germany’s all-time attacking greats. And remember: he’s only 24.
Mario Götze – 2.5
All of Germany’s final were won by one goal – Rahn, Müller and Brehme have become historic for scoring the winners in Germany’s three World Cup wins prior to this one – Now Götze has joined the list of those four greats. And what a sublime goal it was! However, Götze’s start to the tournament wasn’t great. The Bayern player had to deal with a lot of criticism during the group stages, and rightly so. Despite his goal against Ghana, Löw was right to eventually drop him to the bench. The 23-year-old didn’t moan and showed himself to be a team player, and when his chance arrived in the final he took it.
Mesut Özil – 2.5
2014 wasn’t nearly as memorable as 2010 for the playmaker. Özil had to adapt to a new role in the competition to accomodate Löw’s change of formations and he came under criticism for his less impactful performances. Still, Özil pulled it together at the end and was very good in the Brazil and Argentina games. But the pressure is definitely on Özil with Kroos having such a good tournament and Schürrle showing the kind of form deserving of a starter.
Lukas Podolski – 4
The former Köln player was certainly once again responsible for keeping the mood in the squad up. However, what he had to offer on the pitch during the 54 minutes that he played wasn’t really helping Germany along. Löw decided to substitute him after a dire first half against the United States.
Julian Draxler – N/A
The Schalke player was given his World Cup debut during the 7-1 trouncing of Brazil. Draxler played a total of 14 minutes at the World Cup, which is simply too little playing time to give him a grade. However, there’s little doubt that he’s going to be a key player in the future.
Miroslav Klose – 2
One of three players to score in 4 World Cups, 2nd most World Cup appearances of all time and all time World Cup top scorer. Klose’s career is slowly coming to an end, but the Polish born striker showed that he deserved to be at the tournament. The Lazio player scored the vital equaliser against Ghana, allowing Germany to enter the match against the United States without fearing to be eliminated from the tournament. In the semi-final against Brazil, Klose managed to get his 16th goal at a World Cup, making him the sole record holder in that category. All in all the striker managed to show why Löw nominated him for this tournament.