Blamage in Basel

Joachim Löw’s German side started their penultimate match before the European Championship finals without their FC Bayern München contingent – and it showed. In what was a fractured, chaotic performance defined by a particularly poor defensive display, the Nationalmannschaft found themselves on the end of a scarcely believeable 5-3 defeat at the hands of an energetic and highly competitive Swiss side in Basel’s compact St. Jakob-Park – their first defeat against this opposition since a 3-1 defeat in 1956.

On what was a warm evening the Germans took to the field in their green and white ensemble, with the home side dressed in all red. The team was slightly different from that discussed in the earlier match preview, with Mario Götze starting instead of İlkay Gündoğan alongside Mesut Özil and André Schürrle starting out on the right instead of Marco Reus. The real surprise however was the debut of Borussia Mönchengladbach’s Marc-André ter Stegen in goal instead of Tim Wiese.

With the game not being broadcast here in the UK, it was a case of finding a suitable stream – and thanks to the guys at the Big Soccer forum I was able to find a pretty stable feed from the Swiss channel SF1.

Here follows the minute-by-minute report.

2 mins. Germany start the game brightly and after some great combination play win a corner on the left. It is taken by Özil, and unfortunately comes to nothing.

3 mins. Sami Khedira has a shot from some twenty yards, but it is easily blocked.

5 mins. Schürrle wins another corner on the right. Götze takes, no result. The team are looking sharp though, the Swiss have hardly got a touch on the ball.

8 mins. A neat pass and some great play from Özil earns another corner. The ball however is badly underhit by Götze and is easily cleared by the men in red.

9 mins. Corner number four, again underhit. The ball comes out to Schürrle, whose shot is on target but weak and easily collected by Diego Benaglio.

12 mins. Benedikt Höwedes is showing some good signs of movement out on the right flank as the Mannschaft continue to apply pressure on the Swiss defence.

14 mins. Under no real pressure Marcel Schmelzer concedes a corner. Tranquillo Barnetta delivers a decent ball into the box, but it is well cleared by the German defence.

15 mins. The home side win a free-kick out on the left which is floated in by Barnetta. Gökhan Inler rises to get his head to the ball, but his header floats just wide of debutant ter Stegen’s left post.

17 mins. It’s Germany’s turn to win a free-kick out on the right, and Özil’s ball is turned back for a corner. Götze takes, and wins another corner. Same again, and this time a corner on the left taken by Özil. That’s three more corners, and no decent opportunities.

20 mins. Stephan Lichtensteiner is arguably unlucky to be flagged offside for the Swiss after he is put through by Inler on the right.

21 mins. A great break down the left by the Swiss. Gelson Fernandes plays a great ball down the left for Barnetta, who cuts inside and plays a perfect ball for Derdiyok. Derdiyok finds space ahead of a static Schmelzer to stroke the ball with his right foot past Marc-André Stegen. 1-0 to Switzerland.

23 mins. It’s another nightmare for the German defence as the centrebacks are caught looking like statues. Barnetta pings in another lovely cross, and Derdiyok finds time and space to get in between a static Per Mertesacker and Schmelzer to nod the home side into a 2-0 lead.

25 mins. Derdiyok is put through again – this time by Granit Xhaka – and perhaps should have a hat-trick. His slightly scuffed shot is well blocked by ter Stegen. The Swiss crowd are in good voice now.

29 mins. A Lukas Podolski shot goes wide. At 2-0 down it’s not looking good for the Mannschaft, who have not lost against this opposition since a 3-1 defeat in 1956.

30 mins. More great play from Derdiyok. It’s three against two, and Admir Mehmedi has plenty of time to line up a shot but his right-footed effort flies high just to the right of the target.

35 mins. Schmelzer is caught out again as the Swiss create more danger in the German penalty area. The first fifteen minutes are but a distant memory now for Ottmar Hitzfeld’s side.

42 mins. The Swiss are relaxing now and passing the ball around nicely. After a sticky opening they are now looking good, and deserve their two-goal lead against what has been a very ordinary-looking German side.

45 mins. Özil floats in a free-kick from out on the right, and Mats Hummels arrives perfectly to power a header past Benaglio off the underside of the crossbar. The half-time whistle is blown, and somehow Jogi Löw’s side are back in this. It is Hummels’ first goal in the Nationaltrikot. 2-1.

46 mins. The Real boys are off, and Marco Reus and İlkay Gündoğan make their way out onto the field. The second half begins.

49 mins. Höwedes wins a corner out on the right after some good play from Schürrle. A better delivery from Götze, and a snapshot on target from hitherto anonymous skipper Miroslav Klose is well smothered by Benaglio.

50 mins. It’s Barnetta-Derdiyok-Klingalingaling – well it is according to the Swiss television commentator. Barnetta plays a free-kick from out left into the German box, and Derdiyok rises above the rather inattentive Mertesacker to nod the ball home and complete a brilliant hat-trick. On looking at the replay however it looks as though the last touch came from Mehmedi’s arm. 3-1 to the Swiss.

55 mins. Movement at the other end as Germany initiate an attack. Höwedes heads the ball across the face of the Swiss goal, but nobody is there to get on the end of it.

56 mins. Höwedes again makes a run into the opposition penalty area, but cannot maintain control and the ball is gathered by Benaglio.

57 mins. Götze is almost put through on goal by Gündoğan but once again the ball doesn’t quite fall his way and Benaglio is on hand to foil the attack.

58 mins. Schalke 04 Teenager Julian Draxler looks all set to make his debut and he is now standing by the touchline.

59 mins. Reus has an audacious attempt at goal from distance, and it just flies over the top with Benaglio beaten. That’s the sort of thinking this team needs at the moment.

60 mins. The men in green are looking far sharper up front, but they are just not getting the rub of the green. Götze has come close and Reus looks to have been bundled over in the penalty box, but the French referee waves play on.

62 mins. Draxler is on for the disappointing Podolski. At eighteen years and 249 days he becomes the fourth-youngest player to make his international debut for the Nationalmannschaft, slotting in behind Uwe Seeler, Mario Götze and fellow Schalker Olaf Thon.

64 mins. Draxler gets his first shot at goal, which is deflected behind for a corner. Then out of nowhere Schürrle has a shot at goal from just outside the box that flies straight through Benaglio’s open arms. No deflection, just a goalkeeping gaffe… 3-2 now.

67 mins. Inler lifts the ball into the box, ter Stegen comes flying out a la Schumacher, and Juventus’ Lichtensteiner gets ahead of Schmelzer to direct it into the empty net to restore the home side’s two goal advantage.

71 mins. Höwedes is again looking dangerous again going forward. He has been one of the better players today in what has otherwise been a shambolic defensive display.

72 mins. Draxler forces a good save from Benaglio from the edge of the box out on the left, but the Swiss ‘keeper can do nothing as Reus gets to the rebound first to open his international account. 4-3.

73 mins. Gündoğan is looking smooth as he sets up another move, and it’s Höwedes again lurking dangerously in the box.

75 mins. Hummels gets the yellow card for bringing Derdiyok down outside the box. The free-kick is smartly taken by Inler, who rolls the ball out to Reto Ziegler to his left. Ziegler’s shot crashes off the post, but Mehmedi has plenty of time and space to smash the ball into the net to make the score a scarcely believable 5-3 to the home side.

78 mins. Lars Bender is on for Götze, Sven Bender for the impressive Höwedes and “Helmut” Cacau replaces the disappointing Klose. It is the first time the Bender twins have appeared together at the same time for the full national side. Meanwhile the architect of the first three Swiss goals, Barnetta, is replaced by Valentin Stocker.

85 mins. The game appears to have slowed down now. The Swiss win a corner as Hummels clears.

86 mins. The ball is in the back of the German net again, but Philippe Senderos‘ overhead effort is ruled out for an initial foul on ter Stegen.

87 mins. Cacau’s first contribution is an overhit pass to Reus that finds the touchline.

88 mins. The impressive Fernandes is able to find the space and time to get yet another Swiss effort in as his looping header hits the crossbar.

90+3 mins. The final whistle blows, ending what has been a traumatic match for this young B-Mannschaft.

The 5-3 defeat is by far the biggest reverse suffered by the team under the current Nationaltrainer Joachim Löw, and the first time the Mannschaft has conceded five goals since the 5-1 defeat at the hands of Romania in Bucharest just prior to the European Championships in 2004. While there were plenty of not so good things to talk about – Mertesacker, ter Stegen and the truly awful Marcel Schmelzer – there were some positives: second-half substitutes Marco Reus and İlkay Gündoğan impressed, teenager Julian Draxler showed plenty of potential in what was a sprightly international debut, and right-back Benedikt Höwedes looked particularly positive going forward.

What is clear is that this is nowhere near the eleven that will be starting when the tournament kicks off against Portugal in just over two weeks’ time in Lviv. With no representatives from Champions’ League finalists FC Bayern, this truly was a German B-side – and one may argue that apart from the one unfortunate statistic we should not take too much from this game.

That said, the performances of some players should have helped the Nationaltrainer in shaping up his final twenty-three. I will cover this in more detail in my more in-depth post-match analysis.

On another note, all three of Germany’s Euro group opponents didn’t have too great a day either: Portugal could only manage a goalless draw at home against Macedonia in Leiria, while a tournament-strength Netherlands suffered an injury-time 2-1 defeat at the hands of Bulgaria in Amsterdam and a particularly poor-looking Denmark side were well beaten 3-1 by Brazil at Hamburg’s Imtech Arena.

v Switzerland, St. Jakob-Park, Basel, 26.05.2012

3-5 (1-2)
Hummels 45., Schürrle 64., Reus 72. / Derdiyok 21., 23., 50., Lichtsteiner 67., Mehmedi 76.

Germany: ter Stegen* – Höwedes (78. S. Bender), Mertesacker, Hummels, Schmelzer – Khedira (46. Gündoğan) – Götze (78. L. Bender) – Schürrle, Özil (46. Reus), Podolski (62. Draxler*) – Klose (c) (78. Cacau)

*Full international debut

Referee: Antony Gautier (France)
Assistants: Christophe Capelli, Laurent Stien (France)
Fourth Official:

Yellow Cards: Hummels / Inler
Red Cards: – / –

Attempts on Target: 8 / 6
Attempts off Target: 8 / 8
Corners: 10 / 3
Fouls Committed: 10 / 15

Attendance: 27,381

Blamage in Basel
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