A game of two halves

It’s a warm evening in a packed Coface Arena in Mainz, and Jogi Löw’s side are all set for their final warmup match against Armenia. A lot of the big names are back in the starting lineup, and with goalkeeper Manuel Neuer still not ready and Bastian Schweinsteiger and Mesut Özil both on the bench, there is slightly different flavour to the starting lineup.

Roman Weidenfeller gets another start in goal, Benedikt Höwedes comes in for Erik Durm at left back in an otherwise unchanged back four, and there’s a new-look defensive midfield partnership as the fit-again Philipp Lahm starts alongside Sami Khedira. There’s also a new look the the offense, with Miroslav Klose again left on the bench. Toni Kroos is given the central role with André Schürrle on the right and Marco Reus out left, and up front the striker’s position is given to Thomas Müller with Mario Götze also on the bench.

There are very few stars in the Armenian lineup, with the big name being Borussia Dortmund’s Henrikh Mkhitaryan – who is facing three of his club team mates. The men from the southern Caucasus are looking for their first win in their third meeting with the Nationalmannschaft: the previous meetings in qualifying for the 1998 World Cup would result in 5-1 and 4-0 wins for a German side then coached by Berti Vogts.

For this match Joachim Low’s side are in their new all white look, with their opponents kitted out in an all-red ensemble.

1 min. The men in white get things underway, and are on the attack immediately as Müller scuffs a shot into the hands of Armenian ‘keeper Roman Berezovsky.

2 mins. Mkhitaryan gets behind the German defence for the visitors, and Gevorg Ghazaryan makes a complete mess of what is an excellent opportunity.

5 mins. Jogi Löw’s side have started to get into their stride and are keeping possession well outside the Armenian box but are unable to produce that final ball. Reus has a couple of long-range efforts charged down by the men in red.

7 mins. Schürrle sends a looping ball into the penalty area but Müller is unable to get onto the end of it.

9 mins. The first real chance of the game. A nice cross into the box by Lahm, and the unmarked Schürrle sends his header wide of the target.

11 mins. More neat once-touch stuff from the Mannschaft, and Schürrle is flagged for offside as he breaks into the box down the right. Looking at the replay, that was a tight decision at best.

13 mins. Müller slips the ball through the red line and into the box for the fast-advancing Reus who gets his shot on target through the legs of Berezovsky, but the ball is hacked away off the line and behind for a corner by Hrayr Mkoyan. Reus’ corner comes to nothing.

15 mins. It has been an entertaining opening from the home side punctuated by some neat passing, and the tempo looks far better than against Cameroon on Sunday. Still, we need a goal here to get things going. Mats Hummels gives the ball away, but the alert Per Mertesacker is on hand to rectify the situation and regain possession.

19 mins. A Kroos corner is swung in, but Berezovsky punches clear.

22 mins. Kroos finds time and space to fire in a long-distance effort that has plenty of pace, but flies just over the crossbar.

23 mins. Höwedes makes a strong charge down the left and sends a low cross into the box, but in trying to hit a first-time shot Müller gets a bootful of fresh air.

25 mins. Germany are dominating possession as expected, but some good defensive tactics from the Armenians are restricting the Mannschaft to long-range efforts.

27 mins. Jérôme Boateng makes a burst down the right and sends in what might have otherwise been a dangerous-looking cross, but there is nobody there to attack it.

28 mins. Yet another corner for Germany, but once again Reus’ outswinger is headed clear.

31 mins. Yet another corner for the Mannschaft, and this time finds Boateng at the near post. The right-back meets it well but sends his header just wide. His quest for his first international goal continues.

32 mins. Another chance as Reus is foiled by Berezovsky. It’s the sort of one-on-one where Reus would have been expected the score, but the experienced Armenian ‘keeper is fast off his line and does well to block the winger’s shot.

34 mins. It’s almost a shot a minute here. Khedira finds Müller in space to his right, who in turn sends a cross back into the box. Schürrle has a wild swing with his right foot and somehow makes a complete hash of it.

35 mins. Now it’s Müller’s turn to fluff his lines as he fails to get on the end of a delicious-looking ball into the box from Reus.

36 mins. And again, but a much better effort. Boateng collects a pass from Schürrle and charges down the right flank before cutting back inside and firing in a firm shot with his left foot. Berezovsky does well and collects cleanly.

38 mins. Kroos’ corner is punched by Berezovsky only as far as Reus, but the Dortmund man’s shot from just outside the area flies high over the bar and straight into the stands.

40 mins. There’s a slight break in proceedings as Ghazaryan gets treatment for a knock.

41 mins. Schürrle is caught offside as he collects a lovely through ball from Kroos.

42 mins. Boateng slides in on Ghazaryan, and is lucky not to get a booking.

43 mins. Reus challenges Artur Yedigaryan, and goes down in a heap clutching his ankle. Looking at the replay there looks to be be a clear twist of the ankle, and it is not at all pleasant. A visibly distraught Reus is helped off the pitch, and Lukas Podolski is on.

45+1 mins. The half-time whistle blows.

It has been a frustrating forty-five minutes for the home side. Plenty of half-chances, a series of glaring misses, and then to cap it all off the worrying departure of star man Reus with what looks like a serious injury. Armenia would have a chance to deliver an early blow with just two minutes on the clock, but have spent too much time defending to even think about scoring.

There’s just one change at half-time, as Mesut Özil comes on for skipper Lahm with Mertesacker taking the captain’s armband. A good display by Lahm, and we are now expecting the same from Özil who until now has been well below par. With Özil’s arrival Kroos slips back into his more customary holding role to accompany Khedira.

46 mins. Armenia kick off the second half.

50 mins. The second half has pretty much started as the first ended, with the Germans passing the ball nicely outside the Armenian box. Khedira has an effort that crashes off an Armenian foot.

52 mins. Endlich! Seizing on a great pass from Kroos, Podolski makes a typical bustling charge down the left and towards the byline. The Arsenal winger’s low cross is neatly flicked past Berezovsky at the near post by Schürrle, and the ball is in the back of the Armenian net. A quite brilliant move and an even better finish, and Germany have the lead. 1-0.

55 mins. According to the commentary, Marco Reus is already on his way to hospital for a scan on his ankle.

56 mins. A rare opportunity for Armenia to threaten the German goal as Mkhitaryan send in a looping free-kick, but Höwedes clears.

57 mins. Schürrle is flagged for offside as he tried to get behind the Armenian defence.

58 mins. Khedira sends a firm shot on target, but Berezovsky gets his body behind it. SAt the other end there’s a little more purpose behind shown by Armenia

59 mins. One of the recovering squad members is replaced by another, as Bastian Schweinsteiger comes on for Khedira. The FC Bayern man is immediately into his stride.

60 mins. Podolski is brought down just outside the opposition penalty area and clutches his ankle, but thankfully he is up and running again.

62 mins. Müller looks for Schürrle out to his right, but the Chelsea man is narrowly offside.

63 mins. The ball is bobbling around outside the Armenian box, and Schweinsteiger cushions the ball nicely for Boateng, whose well-struck shot from just over twenty yards flies narrowly over the bar.

64 mins. A chance at the other end for Armenia, as the impressive Mkhitaryan again sets things up. This time the opportunity is wasted by Edgar Manucharyan, who sends his shot high over the target despite having plenty of time and space.

65 mins. Some great one-touch play from Kroos and Podolski sees Özil dance his way towards the Armenian goal. The German number eight jinks past his marker, and is unlucky to hit the post. It seems that Özil cannot buy a goal at the moment, and that was desperately unlucky.

67 mins. A double personnel change from Jogi Löw which finally sees the introduction of Miroslav Klose. The veteran striker comes on for Müller, while the the impressive Boateng is replaced at right-back by Borussia Dortmund utility man Kevin Großkreutz. It only takes a few seconds for Klose to get in on the action as he is flagged for offside.

69 mins. Kroos gives the ball away, and Armenia launch a rare counterattack. Ghazaryan picks the ball up just inside the German box, and his clumsily hacked down by Großkreutz. It’s an unfortunate start from Großkreutz, and the Borussia Dortmund show continues as Mkhitaryan drills the ball into the net from the penalty spot as Weidenfeller dives the wrong way. 1-1.

71 mins. Less than two minutes after conceding the equaliser a lovely weighted ball into the box from Özil finds his Arsenal team mate Podolski, who makes no mistake. With a swing of that famous left foot, the ball is in the back of the net and the Mannschaft are back in front. It’s Podolski’s 47th international goal, drawing him level into third place on the all-time goalscorers list alongside Jürgen Klinsmann and Rudi Völler. 2-1.

73 mins. A half-chance for Klose, who cannot quite get his feet in place to control the ball. However the next wave of white shirts sees yet another attack, and Schweinsteiger’s nicely looped pass into the box is met by the advancing Höwedes. The left-back leaps brilliantly and forces a great reaction save from Berezovsky, but is on hand to force in the rebound after the Armenian ‘keeper desperately claws the ball off the line. Two goals in the space of as many minutes, and the home side are looking good now. 3-1.

74 mins. Armenia make their first chance, with Artur Sarkisov coming on for Rumyan Hovsepyan.

75 mins. Another change now for Germany, as the excellent Schürrle is replaced by Mario Götze.

76 mins. If the first half saw a chance a minute, we are now seeing a goal every two. Three of the substitutes are involved as Özil finds Podolski out on the left, whose well-timed cross is headed home by Klose. It is the thirty-five year old’s sixty-ninth international goal, and his finally becomes the highest German goalscorer of all time, surpassing the forty-year record held by the great Gerd Müller. It’s a typical Klose goal: great positioning, and an easy finish. 4-1.

77 mins. Another change for Armenia as Manucharyan makes way for Alexander Tumasyan.

78 mins. It’s almost a second for Klose, but with the goal at his mercy he cannot keep his shot down.

79 mins. Sarkisov send in a testing right-wing cross into the German box, but Hummels does well to clear. The resulting corner is cleared by the Germany defence.

82 mins. It’s five! Podolski has been the man of the second half by a mile, and provides yet another assist as Götze gets his name on the fast-ticking score sheet. An intelligent ball switching the play from right to left by Özil, a perfectly-timed pass from Podolski, and a crisp finish from the FC Bayern starlet. 5-1.

84 mins. Despite the glut of German goals that are still moments of shakiness at the back. A cross from the impressive Mkhitaryan finds Varazdat Haroyan, who sends his header over the bar.

86 mins. An Özil corner finds Klose, who meets it first time with his left foot. There’s too much on the shot though as it flies over the target.

87 mins. Ghazaryan finds space to hit a nice right-footed shot, and Weidenfeller makes his first real save of the evening to tip the Armenian’s curling effort over for a corner.

89 mins. Germany attack down the right, and Klose’s neat flick is collected by the energetic Großkreutz. Cutting inside his flat-footed marker the Dortmund man sends the ball back into the box to Podolski, whose effort is charged down by one of the mass of red-shirted bodies. The ever-alert Klose beats Berezovsky to the ball to tap it back for Götze, who steps back inside the scrambling Armenian ‘keeper before lashing the ball home with his right foot. 6-1.

90 mins. Armenian substitute Tumasyan is shown the yellow card for a late challenge in Höwedes to blot what had been a well-contested but clean game.

90+1 mins. The final whistle is blown.

In the end a satisfactory result in what was a bizarre game. After a goalless first half things would explode into life after fifty-two minutes, and after being rocked by an Armenian equaliser the home side would finally up the gears and finish the game scoring for fun. While nothing conclusive can be gleaned from the result, it is clearly a much-needed and morale-boosting victory before the squad head out to Brazil.

An entertaining and at times manic final eighteen minutes would see Miroslav Klose claim the all-time goalscoring record for Germany and Lukas Podolski cap off a fantastic performance with his 47th strike in the Schwarz und Weiß, but the evening as a whole would be ruined by the premature departure of Marco Reus.

v Armenia, Coface Arena, Mainz, 06.06.2014

6-1 (0-0)
Schürrle 52., Podolski 72., Höwedes 73., Klose 77., Götze 82., 89. / Mkhitaryan pen 69.

Germany: Weidenfeller – Boateng (67. Großkreutz), Mertesacker, Hummels, Höwedes – Khedira (59. Schweinsteiger), Lahm (c) (46. Özil) – Schürrle (75. Götze), Kroos, Reus (45.+1. Podolski) – Müller (67. Klose)

Armenia: Berezovsky (c) – Mkoyan, Haroyan, Arzumanyan, Hayrapetyan – Yedigaryan, Hovsepyan (76. Sarkisov)- Manucharyan (77. Tumasyan), Mkhitaryan, Ghazaryan – Movsisyan

Referee: Harald Lechner (Austria)
Assistants: Andreas Staudinger, Maximilian Kolbitsch (Austria)
Fourth Official: Christian Dingert (Germany)

Yellow Cards: – / Tumasyan
Red Cards: – / –

Attempts on Target: 15 / 2
Attempts off Target: 13 / 4
Corners: 8 / 6
Fouls Committed: 9 / 12

Attendance: 27,000

A game of two halves

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