Defeat in Paris for the Mannschaft, but a bigger defeat for humanity

Usually I release the minute by minute match report a few hours after the end of the match. Barring a few edits and typo corrections, it is usually ready to go. Things were a little different after the game in Paris on Friday 13th November, where a match billed as a prestige friendly between two great European teams was rendered completely irrelevant by the events that were taking place in the city at the time. When the news began to break about the bombings and shootings outside the ground then the massacre at the Bataclan concert hall, an otherwise meaningless football match had become an irrelevant sideshow.

Rather than start editing the match report, I found myself switching between the BBC and Sky news channels; after carrying out a number of thing to do prior to our flying to Iceland on the following Sunday and returning to see the grisly story of the nightmare in Paris unfolding, I was no longer in the mood to edit the report.

As all of the footage was pieced together, the loud bang heard inside the ground that I initially thought was a pyrotechnic device turned out to be that of an explosion caused by a suicide bomber who was apparently trying to making his way into the stadium.

My mood was dampened even further when, during our short stay in Reykjavík, the news came through that Germany’s friendly against the Netherlands in Hannover had been called off following the confirmation of a bomb threat.

The threat in Hannover was just that – a threat – but the immediate cancellation of the match by the federal authorities and the resulting lockdown of parts of the city didn’t bode well for next year’s Euro finals in France. Although my mood would be brightened somewhat by witnessing the northern lights later that night, I returned home later in the week with no pressing desire to get this match report out. I’m glad I waited, and this preamble is the result.

It’s all relative of course, but Europe suddenly feels like a dangerous place right now. If one cannot go out for an evening meal, a concert or a football match without some maniac charging in with a bomb belt or an AK-47, one might as well stay and home, put on the tinfoil hat and wait for the Dementors to arrive. For this what they are, these terrorists: Dementors, whose sole mission is to suck the life out of all that is good.

I had actually toyed with the idea of going to Paris for the Germany match; with my girlfriend coming from the country, France has become a frequent holiday destination and I have lost track of how many times I have visited in the last fifteen or so years. Perhaps this is why I couldn’t get around to updating and publishing this report for so long.

Having missed out on tickets for the Euro finals in the initial ballot, my immediate thought after the Paris massacre was “just as well”. However, the over the last couple of weeks I have started to reassess my thoughts.

Yes, next year’s football festival in France is going to be a security nightmare. Yes, it is clear that every match – and even every bar, restaurant and town square where fans may gather – will be a clear and obvious target. But this should not make us change how we live. We should keep doing what we are doing, no matter how big this threat to our way of life eventually gets.

Here’s the minute-by-minute match report, as it was written at the time.

So, Germany’s buildup to next year’s European Championships begin, with their first match against tournament hosts France at the Stade de France in Paris – where next year’s final will be held. It is the first meeting of the two teams since the summer of 2014, when a Mats Hummels’ header decided a hard-fought World Cup quarter-final in Brazil.

There’s a new look to the German back four as Antonio Rüdiger – now with Serie A side AS Roma – returns to the side at right-back, while Sami Khedira and Bastian Schweinsteiger start together for the first time since the World Cup semi-final against Brazil. Borussia Dortmund’s Matthias Ginter moves into a new-look three-man offensive midfield unit alongside Thomas Müller and the recalled Julian Draxler, while striker Mario Gómez is back in the Nationaltrikot after more than a year out – 436 days to be exact.

Winning his 114th international cap, skipper Schweinsteiger moves ahead of his predecessor Philipp Lahm into fourth place on the all-time appearances list.

With the game not being aired live in the UK, it’s time to look for a stream – and while ARD is a tough find the French state channel TF1 appears to have plenty of decent sources. I have my tablet set down in front of me, and am ready to go. The teams step out for the national anthems, on what is a fine evening in Paris.

1 min. Germany kick off, wearing their all-new Schwarz und Weiß ensemble. The French are in their traditional outfit of dark blue shirts, white shorts and red socks.

3 mins. The home side have started strongly, and the German defence has its first testing moments.

5 mins. There has been little sign of the German attack so far, and in another attack down the left France win the first corner of the match as Rüdiger puts the ball behind under pressure from Antoine Griezmann. The corner is swung in, and Jérôme Boateng clears the danger.

8 mins. The men in white and black finally get some time into the opposition half, but are nowhere near to fashioning a shot on goal.

10 mins. Anthony Martial looks to make his way towards the German goal, but Rüdiger gets in front of the Manchester United man to head the ball safely back to Manuel Neuer.

12 mins. France win another corner, but Jogi Löw’s side clear easily.

15 mins. Germany are trying to establish a foothold by keeping the ball.

17 mins. Müller looks to set Khedira free on the right, but the move fizzles out.

22 mins. Germany win their first corner, but French ‘keeper Hugo Lloris leaps high to catch Schweinsteiger’s effort.

24 mins. There’s plenty of pressure now from the French who win two corners in the space of a couple of minutes. Neuer safely collects the second to settle German nerves.

26 mins. Thomas Müller looks to thread a pass through for Gómez, but it’s a little strong and the striker can’t collect it.

30 mins. Germany appear to have weathered the initial French storm, and the match looks to have settled down a little. Neither goalkeeper has had a save of note of make, and France remain the more threatening of the two teams.

33 mins. Gómez makes a strong run down the right, and Draxler can’t quite get the ball under control. There’s an enforced change for the Mannschaft, with Jonas Hector making way for Emre Can.

34 mins. A great chance for the visitors. After a quick throw on the right, Gómez finds Draxler who smartly nods the ball forward for Müller, who can’t keep his shot down after wriggling free of his marker. His shot flies narrowly over the crossbar.

36 mins. The dangerous Martial charges forward into the German box, but is brilliantly dealt with by Rüdiger. The former VfB Stuttgart man keeps his cool and doesn’t leap into making a challenge as he uses his strength to dispossess his opponent.

38 mins. Germany look to fashion an attack down the left and Draxler chases the ball towards the byline. The VfL Wolfsburg playmaker looks to hook the ball back into the French penalty area, but it just runs out of play.

40 mins. Griezmann finds enough space to get a shot in on the German goal, but Neuer collects easily.

41 mins. Laurent Koscielny is forced into conceding a corner out on the right as German look to up the pressure, but Schweinsteiger’s kick is cleared easily.

42 mins. France quickly move the ball to the other end of the pitch, and Olivier Giroud’s cross rolls across the German box. Luckily there is nobody there in a blue shirt to finish it off.

43 mins. This is really picking up now, and Germany create another fantastic opportunity. Ginter and Müller combine brilliantly through the middle, and Müller’s delicate pass finds the advancing Gómez. The Beşiktaş striker cannot keep his shot down though, and it fizzes narrowly over the target. That was a really good opportunity.

45+1 mins. A brilliant move from the French breaks the deadlock. The slippery Martial outfoxes Rüdiger and cuts inside into the box, where his smart feint leaves Ginter looking completely flat-footed. His sharp cutback finds Giroud, whose steers the ball to Neuer’s right with a smart left-footed finish. 0-1.

Right on the cusp of half-time, Olivier Giroud gives France the lead

A hammer blow for the Germans just before half-time, and moments after Gómez had fluffed a gilt-edged chance to give the visitors the lead. After a torrid opening Joachim Löw’s men looked to have settled down, and will fancy their chances of getting back into the contest in the second half.

46 mins. There’s a change for Germany as Boateng is replaced by Valencia’s Shkodran Mustafi, and Didier Deschamp’s team get the second half underway.

50 mins. It has been a slow start to the second half. Meanwhile, news is filtering in of a number of explosions having taken place close to the stadium. Coming after the bomb hoax call in the morning that saw the German team evacuated from their hotel, this is not good. According to reports a number of people have been wounded, and French president François Hollande has already left the ground.

53 mins. Back to the game. France have the ball in the back of the German net for a second time, but the offside flag is raised against Giroud – who was marginally in front of the last white shirt before putting the ball back into the German box for Griezmann to finish. A close, but correct decision from the Spanish touchline official.

57 mins. Gómez makes his way into the French penalty area, and is challenged by Koscielny. There are claims for a push by the French defender, but the referee waves play on.

58 mins. A lovely French move sees a flying header from Giroud float over the crossbar. Neuer had it covered, but the German defence was caught cold again.

60 mins. There’s a good break down the left by the visitors, and the ball makes its way across the French box as the home side fail to clear. The ball falls to Matthias Ginter, who opts to shoot from a tight angle rather than look for a pass inside. His shot is ugly at best, and balloons high over the target and into the crowd.

61 mins. A double change for Germany, with Khedira and Draxler making way for İlkay Gündoğan and Schalke 04 youngster Leroy Sané who makes his opening bow in the Nationaltrikot.

62 mins. Midfield schemer Paul Pogba has crack from distance, and his well-struck effort is neatly tipped over by Neuer. The French fail to make anything from the corner, and the Mannschaft are able to regroup.

66 mins. Sané, Mats Hummels and Can show some neat touches out on the left, and the visitors are seeing a lot more of the ball now.

68 mins. A double change for France, with André-Pierre Gignac and FC Bayern München youngster Kingsley Coman coming on for the excellent Giroud and Martial.

69 mins. Lloris almost gets caught in no-mans land as he comes out of his area to foil the fast advancing Sané, but he finds his composure to hoof the ball up their field to clear the danger.

71 mins. Coman almost immediately makes a nuisance of himself as he charges down the left towards the byline. Somehow, Germany manage to clear. Patrice Evra is booked for handball as he challenges Sané.

72 mins. Sané looks to have found some space down the left, but Raphael Varane challenges well.

77 mins. Müller collects the ball just outside the French box and shows plenty of strength to muscle past his marker and firing a lovely left-footed shot. The ball is heading towards the goal, but Lloris dives brilliantly to his right to keep it out.

79 mins. Another German change. It’s a positive move from the German Trainer as Ginter makes way for TSG Hoffenheim striker Kevin Volland. A Gündoğan free-kick is floated towards the French penalty area, but it is cleared easily.

80 mins. The substitutions are coming thick and fast now. There are two more changes for Les Bleues, with Hatem Ben Arfa and Morgan Schneiderlin replacing Griezmann and Lassana Diarra.

83 mins. Sané makes his way down the right, and Germany win a corner. The ball doesn’t quite drop for the Germans as Varane beats Rüdiger in the air, and the French clear their lines.

85 mins. Coman is upended by Volland, who is shown the yellow card. News is now coming through that there have been three explosions close to the stadium, and eighteen people have been killed.

86 mins. It’s difficult to keep writing about this match at the moment, but France score a second. Coman combines with Blaise Matuidi down the left, with Mustafi unable to prevent the French sub from lifting the ball into the box. Gignac outmanoeuvres Hummels, and the ball is in the back of the German net via the French striker’s head. 0-2.

By this time the football has become something of an irrelevance, as André-Pierre Gignac puts the home side two goals in front

88 mins. Yohan Cabaye is on for Matuidi as French coach Deschamps makes his final change. There’s another chance for Gignac, but his low shot on goal is collected by Neuer.

90+1 mins. The Mannschaft look to make a last foray forward, and a long ball is too much for Sané to chase down. In the light of the other news filtering in, this game is becoming increasingly meaningless.

90+3 mins. The final whistle blows.

v France, Stade de France, Paris, 14.11.2015

0-2 (0-1)
– / Giroud 45+1., Gignac 86.

Germany: Neuer – Rüdiger, Boateng (46. Mustafi), Hummels, Hector (33. Can) – Khedira (61. Gündoğan), Schweinsteiger (c) – Ginter (79. Volland), Müller, Draxler (61. Sané*) – Gómez

France: Lloris (c) – Sagna, Varane, Koscielny, Evra – Diarra (80. Schneiderlin) – Pogba, Matuidi (88. Cabaye) – Griezmann (80. Ben Arfa), Giroud (69. Gignac), Martial (69. Coman)

*International debut

Referee: Antonio Mateu Lahoz (Spain)
Assistants: Pau Cebrián Devís (Spain), Javier Aguilar Rodríguez (Spain)
Fourth Official: Carlos Clos Gómez (Spain)

Yellow Cards: Volland / Evra
Red Cards: – / –

Ball Possession: 50% / 50%
Attempts on Target: 0 / 5
Attempts off Target: 4 / 1
Corners: 3 / 5
Fouls Committed: 4 / 7

Attendance: 80,000

Defeat in Paris for the Mannschaft, but a bigger defeat for humanity
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