It’s all change for Germany in Tbilisi, as the experienced members of Joachim Löw’s squad – notably the FC Bayern contingent – are back in the starting eleven for this crucial Euro 2016 qualifier against Georgia. Manuel Neuer is back in goal, the experienced partnership of Jérôme Boateng and Mats Hummels occupy the centre of a new-look Viererkette with Jonas Hector and Sebastian Rudy out on the flanks, while skipper Bastian Schweinsteiger is in the Nationaltrikot for the first time since the World Cup final in Rio last July.
Schweinsteiger is accompanied by another World Cup winner in Real Madrid’s Toni Kroos, playmaker Mesut Özil is again in the middle of the park, and while Marco Reus retains his place out on the left Thomas Müller returns to his customary position out on the right flank. Up top is Mario Götze, the “false nine”.
A peep from the whistle of French referee Clément Turpin, and the home side get things underway. The Nationalmannschaft are in their now familiar all-white ensemble, while their opponents are in an all-red strip with white trim.
1 min. The first attack is from the visitors, but Müller’s right-wing cross is too high for Mario Götze in the centre.
2 mins. Georgia is temporarily down to ten men as Aleksandr Amisulashvili goes off for treatment on the touchline. He can’t go on though, and is replaced by Lasha Dvali.
5 mins. The first genuine attempt on goal by the Mannschaft, and Reus’ shot is deflected by ‘keeper Giorgi Loria onto the crossbar after a defence-slicing ball from Müller. This is been a positive start by the world champions.
9 mins. Germany win a corner on the left which is taken by Kroos, but it is easily cleared by a Georgian defender.
11 mins. Georgia make their first foray into the German half, and Jaba Kankava’s deflected shot is kept in by Manuel Neuer.
13 mins. Germany win another corner, this time on the right, and Kroos drags it back smartly towards the edge of the box for Müller whose first-time shot skids just wide of the left post.
16 mins. Germany have had most of the possession and have created the better opportunities but Georgia remain threatening. They win another free-kick which is nicely floated into the penalty area, but Neuer collects safely. The home side appear to have settled down after a slightly shaky start, buoyed by the enthusiastic crowd.
18 mins. Rudy wins another corner for the men in white, but Kroos’s curling ball into the box is easily plucked out of the air by Loria.
22 mins. Germany are continuing to press and probe, but so far the Georgians have maintained a solid line of defence to keep their more illustrious opponents at bay.
23 mins. Müller’s high floated ball into the Georgian penalty area is palmed away by Loria, and Georgia clear their lines.
26 mins. Rudy and Müller combine nicely down the right, and Rudy’s neat cutback is met by Götze who shoots wide. It was a sharp chance and Götze is not quite able to get his foot around the ball.
29 mins. A great opportunity for Germany. Özil and Reus move towards the Georgian goal with purpose, and Götze’s pass back finds Reus. The Dortmund man has plenty of time to line up his shot, but sends his effort skidding wide of the near post. That should have been the lead in what has been a slightly frustrating opening half hour.
31 mins. Georgia look to create an opportunity down the left, but Boateng works hard to get back and clear the danger.
33 mins. Germany win a free-kick just outside the box on the right, and Kroos’ curling ball into the box is looped over the bar by Müller. There are claims for a bit of shirt-tugging by a Georgian defender, but the referee signals for a goal kick. Kakha Makharadze has meanwhile been shown the yellow card for the initial foul.
36 mins. Germany win a throw-in mid-way in their own half, which is taken by ‘keeper Neuer. We’ve seen it all now.
37 mins. Boateng tries to lift the ball inside the opposition box which is cleared, and quickly makes up the ground to regain possession.
39 mins. There’s plenty of patient play outside the Georgian box, and finally Germany find their way through. Götze collects Özil’s pass and is more than a little lucky as he advances deep into the Georgian penalty area and avoids three challenges without losing the ball, which falls nicely for Reus to his left. Reus makes no mistake as he sends a low right-footed shot between ‘keeper Loria and the near post. 1-0.
Marco Reus gives Germany the lead six minutes before half-time
42 mins. Reus is given time on the ball to approach the Georgian box, and he pings a right-footed effort that is heading for the top-left hand corner of the goal. Loria responds brilliantly though as he tips the ball over for a corner.
43 mins. Götze has the ball in the back of the net, but the offside flag is raised against provider Reus.
44 mins. Georgia are all over the place now, and Özil looks for Müller with a smart pass inside towards the edge of the box. The ball takes an awkward bounce off his marker’s ankles but Müller remains alert, sweeping a well-timed shot past the wrongfooted Loria with his right foot. It’s a typical Müller finish, and his fifth goal in the five Euro qualifiers played so far. 2-0.
A minute before the break, Thomas Müller hits the Mannschaft’s second goal
45+2 mins. Germany have found their rhythm now, and this time it’s Özil’s turn to test Loria with a well-struck curling left-footed effort. The Georgian ‘keeper does well to turn it behind, but Germany can’t make anything from the corner.
45+3 mins. The whistle is blown for half-time in Tbilisi.
After a frustrating opening forty of so minutes with plenty of possession, chances and no goals, Löw’s side have surely settled their nerves with two goals in the space of five minutes. Georgia started well and managed to keep their shape well, but after the first goal looked to have lost their bearings completely. It could very easily have been three or four for the the Mannschaft, who will be looking to boost their goal difference in the second half.
As the two teams return Georgia have made one change, with Giorgi Chanturia replacing Tornike Okriashvili.
46 mins. The second half gets underway.
48 mins. Boateng foils a Georgian attack at the expense of a corner. It is played short and frankly wasted, and Germany clear.
51 mins. Germany are playing patient keep-ball now, waiting for the killer pass. Meanwhile an intruder makes his way onto the pitch but is quickly escorted off.
52 mins. Georgia have their first shot at goal, but Ucha Lobjanidze’s effort flies harmlessly over the crossbar.
58 mins. The home side are starting to show a little more invention now, and win another corner. The kick is way too strong though and is floats harmlessly over the German penalty area. Manuel Neuer finally gets his hands on the ball on what has been a relaxing evening so far.
60 mins. Rudy makes his way down the right and swings the ball into the Georgian box, and Reus finds the woodwork again with a perfectly-struck left-footed shot.
63 mins. Makharadze makes way for Levan Kenia as Georgian coach Kakhaber Tskhadadze makes his third and final change.
65 mins. Georgia win another corner, but Schweinsteiger clears. Just moments later there’s a fourth corner, but the movement is way too elaborate and Germany clear their lines.
68 mins. Kroos wins the ball in midfield and finds Götze in space out on the right, but it’s a case of one touch too many as he loses the ball.
70 mins. There’s plenty of pressure now from Jogi Löw’s side, but far too much over-complication. Rather than keep things simple, they are trying to walk the ball into the net in search of the perfect goal.
72 mins. Hector and Reus play a neat one-two down the left, but Reus’ low cross into the box is a little to far in front of Müller.
74 mins. Germany win a free-kick on the left just outside the penalty area, and Reus sends a curling shot straight at Loria. Meanwhile off the ball there’s a case of handbags at ten paces between the two skippers Schweinsteiger and Kankava, and matching yellow cards from the referee.
77 mins. While soaking up the pressure Georgia are still managing to create danger in the German penalty area with three corners in the space of a minute. The German defence haven’t really been tested so far, but there was just a little wobble then.
79 mins. Özil drags a shot wide of the target.
82 mins. Chanturia is booked for a mistimed lunge on Hector.
83 mins. Kroos takes a pop from distance, but sends his shot wide.
85 mins. A careless pass in the middle of the park sees Levan Mchedlidze charge towards the German goal, but Hummels comes to the rescue with an excellent tackle.
86 mins. The first change by Jogi Löw as André Schürrle replaces Müller.
87 mins. It’s two changes in two minutes, with Lukas Podolski coming on for Mario Götze to win his 123rd international cap.
89 mins. Germany look satisfied with their two-goal lead, and there is no real urgency as they look to close off what has been a polished and efficient display. Plenty of passes to up the stats and the possession percentages.
90+2 mins. Monsieur Turpin blows the final whistle.
Germany were never really threatened and could have won by a bigger margin, but in the end they have done what they came to do. A solid and professional performance and three more points in the bag, which takes them onto ten points after five matches behind Poland and Scotland on goal difference. It is fair to say that the second half was just a little disappointing, with the possession (71%) and shots (15) again not being converted into goals against a workmanlike Georgian outfit. Way too much effort was spent looking for the perfect pretty goal, when a more simple approach would have been better.
On the plus side, there was little to worry about at the back, with Manuel Neuer not having to make a single save – there was even time for the sweeper-keeper to take a throw in. In short, it was like a gentle stroll in the park.
v Georgia, Boris Paichadze National Stadium, Tbilisi, 29.03.2015
Reus 39., Müller 44. / –
Germany: Neuer – Rudy, Boateng, Hummels, Hector – Schweinsteiger (c), Kroos – Müller (86. Schürrle), Özil, Reus – Götze (87. Podolski)
Georgia: Loria – Amisulashvili (4. Dvali), Kverkvelia, G. Kashia – Lobjanidze, Kankava (c), Navalovsky – Kobakhidze, Makharadze (63. Kenia) – Okriashvili (46. Chanturia) – Mchedlidze
Referee: Clément Turpin (France)
Assistants: Frédéric Cano, Nicolas Danos (France)
Goal Line Assistants: Ruddy Buquet, Fredy Fautrel (France)
Fourth Official: Cyril Gringore (France)
Yellow Cards: Schweinsteiger / Makharadze, Kankava, Chanturia
Red Cards: – / –
Ball Possession: 71% / 29%
Attempts on Target: 7 / 0
Attempts off Target: 8 / 2
Corners: 8 / 7
Fouls Committed: 9 / 14