It’s 11.11.11, and time for the report on the friendly international against the Ukraine in Kyiv. I have managed to find a fairly decent stream in Ukrainian on a channel called Inter (Інтер). It is working pretty well at the moment, allowing me to get a glimpse of some Ukrainian political documentary and some adverts including one for Crédit Agricole with Gérard Depardieu.
As usual, here’s my pre-match review of what is a rather interesting starting eleven against the Euro 2012 co-hosts…
Zwischen dem Sticks: Ron-Robert Zieler
One of a number of up-and-coming young German ‘keepers, Zieler gets his turn first ahead of the usual number two Tim Wiese. Zieler had a poor match in the Bundesliga for his club side Hannover against Schalke last time out, but will be looking to take advantage of this opportunity to push for a permanent place in the squad.
The back four: Jérôme Boateng, Mats Hummels, Holger Badstuber, Dennis Aogo
After much speculation, the back four includes three of the four players I would choose as my tournament starting XI, the other being regular captain Philipp Lahm who is being rested both for this match and next week’s encounter against the Dutch in Hamburg. Jérôme Boateng has been impressive for Bayern this season at right-back – disciplinary issues notwithstanding – while Mats Hummels and Holger Badstuber would be the first two I would pick for the central defensive positions ahead of trusted “veteran” Per Mertesacker. The left-back position doesn’t have any real takers behind Lahm, and this is a chance for Dennis Aogo to get ahead of Marcel Schmelzer, who had a bit of a stinker during his last start against Poland in September.
Defensive Midfield: Sami Khedira, Christian Träsch
With Bastian Schweinsteiger out until the new year with a collarbone injury Sami Khedira’s position just ahead of the back four was more or less assured, but the surprise selection is Christian Träsch, who is selected for the defensive midfield position with Toni Kroos being shifted upfield. In his more recent outings Träsch has been put out at right-back, but this evening he has been given his more preferred position. Might this be the last opportunity for the Wolfsburg man to prove himself?
Offensive midfield: Toni Kroos, Mesut Özil – Mario Götze
A very experimental midfield trio is packed with talent, as Toni Kroos is moved up the park alongside the dream duo of Mesut Özil and Mario Götze who start together for the first time. Some line-ups (for example Kicker) have Götze in a slightly advanced position, making a 4-1-4-1 instead of the usual 4-2-3-1. Thomas Müller is rested, and with the inclusion of both Özil and Götze there is no place for Lukas Podolski or André Schürrle.
Der Torjäger: Mario Gómez
With Miroslav Klose pulling out with a knee injury, Gómez was the one player always guaranteed to start if fully fit. Having scored a hat-trick in his latest Champions’ League outing against Napoli, the Bayern hitman will be looking to add to his international tally in what is his fiftieth appearance for the Nationalmannschaft. To cap off his evening, Gómez has also been awarded the captain’s armband.
Andriy Shevchenko starts for the Ukraine, and Spanish referee Velasco Carballo gets things underway as Germany kick off.
3 mins No real chances so far as the home side do the early pressing.
4 mins Shevchenko outpaces Jérôme Boateng on the left, and finds the side netting as Ron-Robert Zieler holds his ground well. Might the Shevchenko of old have buried that?
9 mins Some nice skill from Mario Götze inside the Ukrainian box on the right but he just cannot quite gain control before the ball is claimed by ‘keeper Oleksandr Rybka. I am send a link to another stream, which is lucky as things were starting to get a little choppy. It’s ARD – perfect.
11 mins Not much is happening, but Germany are keeping control well in the opposition half. Christian Träsch finds some space on the right to send in a cross, but it is cleared by the Ukrainian defence.
12 mins The home side create some space outside the German penalty area, and Andriy Yarmolenko sends his just shot wide of the right post. German ‘keeper Ron-Robert Zieler has it well covered though.
15 mins Some patient play and a great through ball from Toni Kroos sees Mario Gómez close in on Rybka, who blocks well. Dennis Aogo then swings in a cross from the left which is punched away by the Ukrainian ‘keeper.
18 mins Aogo finds more space down the left flank and sends a cross in across the opposition penalty area. Träsch tries to hook in a shot with his right foot, but is well wide of the target.
19 mins Mesut Özil is fouled moving forward by Ukrainian debutant Roman Bezus, who gets issued the yellow card.
22 mins Ukraine win a corner on the right, which is half-cleared before Jaroslav Rakytskyy attempts a ridiculously outrageous overhead kick which flies high over the German goal and into the stands.
24 mins Götze sends the ball into the box but nobody is on hand to threaten the Ukrainian goal.
25 mins Özil has the ball in the box but can’t get past what is a well organised gaggle of Ukrainian defenders.
26 mins The home crowd think Shevchenko is through but he is called back for a foot up against Boateng, and Germany win the free-kick.
28 mins Ukraine break at speed following an excellent long diagonal ball from Shevchenko, and Artem Milevskiy runs towards the byline on the right and outwits Götze before cutting the ball back inside. Yarmolenko almost accidentally sticks out a foot to feather it into the net with Zieler left completely stranded. 1-0 Ukraine.
33 mins Ukraine are looking the better side now, and the control that Germany had more most of the first half an hour seems to have disappeared. Jogi Löw’s side clearly need to regroup after being caught out by what was a fairly soft goal.
37 mins Germany win a corner out on the right, and after more intricate overkill are caught on the break. Mats Hummels gives the ball away carelessly just outside the Ukrainian penalty area, and Milevskiy plays the ball inside to Yevheniy Konoplyanka who makes an unchallenged fifty-yard sprint into the German penalty area before dancing past Zieler. The ‘keeper does his best to prevent Konoplyanka getting past him without risking the foul, but has no real chance. The ball is in the back of the net, and the home side has a hardly-deserved 2-0 lead.
39 mins Out of nothing Germany are back in the game. The persistent Kroos engineers the attack, and after his first shot comes off a defender his second attempt from some twenty-five yards arrows into the top left-hand corner of the net with Rybka left completely flat-footed. 2-1, Germany are back in the game.
40 mins Boateng has a decent left-footed effort from distance that is turned around the post by Rybka. Ozil’s corner is slightly overhit and comes to nothing.
41 mins Serhiy Nazarenko is on for Bezus.
45 mins + 1 Some great skill from Sami Khedira, whose header comes off the crossbar and then off Rybka before bobbling towards the goal line. The ‘keeper manages to keep his head and collects the ball as it is sitting on the line. Ukraine meanwhile are not prepared to go into half-time at 2-1, and after some decent build-up play outside the German box Shevchenko plays the ball across to substitute Nazarenko who powers the ball into the top-left corner of the net from all of thirty yards. 3-1 Ukraine.
What a bizarre first half. This system is clearly not working, and is making the German team almost permanently susceptible to the fast counter-attack. The first goal came from a fast break, and the second from another counter-attack when seconds earlier the Mannschaft had been looking threatening. Toni Kroos has been Germany’s best player by a considerable distance and pulled them back into the game with a well-taken strike, but the half has clearly belonged to the home side with Nazarenko’s long-range bullet restoring their two-goal advantage. Debutant Ron-Robert Zieler has conceded three goals, but in fairness I don’t think he could have done much to prevent any of them.
46 mins Simon Rolfes is on for Khedira and André Schürrle on for the very ordinary Träsch.
47 mins Germany start the half quickly, and Götze forces a save from Rybka. Moments later, Schürrle is immediately into action as he wins a corner – which is wasted by Özil.
48 mins Schürrle is in the thick of the action again as he comes in from the right and sends in a shot that skids across the face of the opposition goal and past the far post.
49 mins Ukraine break again, and Shevchenko beats Aogo to get a shot in on target. Zieler dives superbly to turn it around for a corner. The ball is delivered into the box, and Anatoliy Tymoschuk’s overhead effort is collected by the German Torhuter.
52 mins The German team continue to look jittery and open to easy attack at the back, and the fear of being caught on the break is almost constant.
56 mins Aogo wins a free-kick on the left. Gotze swings it in but a Ukrainian head gets there first before Rybka punches the ball away.
57 mins Schürrle finds Aogo on the left, whose well-timed low cross into the box is cleared for a corner as the defender slides in. The corner is cleared, but the ball comes back to Hummels who sends a soft header into the arms of the Ukrainian ‘keeper. It’s all moot anyway as he is correctly flagged for offside.
59 mins Götze agonisingly swings the ball into the box for no return after yet another determined charge forward by Kroos.
62 mins Another break down the left by the home side, and it’s that man Nazarenko again. Zieler does just enough to put him off, and the Ukrainian blazes a shot across the face of the goal and wide of the target.
63 mins Konoplyanka has a crack at goal and Zieler collects.
65 mins Germany win two corners from the right in quick succession, and after the Özil’s first effort is way too short the second is just about perfect. The ball is played into the Ukrainian box, where it is hooked back in towards the six-yard box by Hummels. Both Rolfes and Boateng are lurking at the far post, and the Leverkusen skipper taps it home with Rybka nowhere in sight. The home side’s lead is cut to 3-2.
66 mins Götzil makes way for Lukas Podolski and Thomas Müller, and for the Ukraine Shevchenko is replaced by Oleksiy Gai and Milevskiy by Marko Devic.
69 mins The rather inconspicuous Gómez directs a header towards goal, and sees his effort come off the hand of defender Oleksandr Kucher. It looks like a pretty clear shout for a German penalty, but the Spanish referee waves play on.
71 mins Podolski tries to find Gomez with a low through ball but the striker is not on the same wavelength; the ball is collected easily by Rybka.
73 mins Good work from Müller down the left, and Aogo wins another corner. Kroos takes, and Hummels loops his header over the bar.
75 mins Germany are starting to keep the ball and exert some pressure in the opposition half, but Schürrle is caught offside to release the pressure on the home side.
78 mins Aogo finds Müller out to his left, and the Bayern man leaves his marker in a heap as he turns him inside out. He finds room to shoot, and sends a right-footed drive that skids through a mass of defenders, taking Rybka by surprise. The ‘keeper stretches out a leg, but the ball goes to his left and into the right corner of the net. 3-3.
79 mins There’s almost another Ukrainian break from nothing and Yarmolenko surges forward, but Hummels has enough pace to get the ball back to Zieler who calmly clears the danger.
80 mins The men in yellow engineer another good move and Yarmolenko’s left-footed effort from the right of the German area spins wide of the German goal.
81 mins Great play down the left again by Aogo and Müller and there’s almost a chance as Podolski sends his shot over the bar.
82 mins The play swings to the other end with yet another Ukrainian break, and somehow the home side contrive to botch what is a clear opportunity to regain the lead.
83 mins Cacau is on for the disappointing Gómez.
86 mins There’s pressure, pressure, and more pressure from Germany as they press for a winner, but with all this there’s still there’s that constant threat of the fast Ukrainian break.
87 mins Germany’s Man of the Match Toni Kroos gives way to Lars Bender.
88 mins Cacau cuts inside and forces a great save from Rybka. It’s choatic and all very loose in the middle of the field, and Germany are almost caught out again on the break.
90 mins There’s yet another Ukrainian counter, and Devic’s effort at the far post from close range is brilliantly kept out by the impressive Zieler.
90 mins + 2 Artem Fedetskyy comes on for Konoplyanka.
90 mins + 4 The final whistle blows.
I normally tack it on to this report, but my match ratings and post-match analysis will appear in my next post to prevent this one turning into an epic. There’s quite a lot to talk about with his one – untested formations, a three-man defence, Jogi’s post-match studio talk, the Özil-Götze thing…
Watch this space.
v Ukraine, Olimpiyskiy, Kyiv 11.11.2011
Kroos 39., Rolfes 65., Müller 78. / Yarmolenko 28., Konoplyanka 37., Nazarenko 45.+1.
Team: Zieler* – Boateng, Badstuber, Hummels – Träsch (46. Schürrle), Kroos (87. L. Bender), Khedira (46. Rolfes), Aogo – Götze (66. Müller) – Özil (66. Podolski) – Gómez (83. Cacau)
* Full International Debut
Referee: Carlos Velasco Carballo (Spain)
Assistants: Roberto Alonso Fernández, Juan Carlos Yuste Jiménez (Spain)
Fourth Official: unknown
Yellow Cards: – / Bezus
Red Cards: – / –
Attempts on Target: 12 / 8
Attempts off Target: 9 / 6
Corners: 10 / 2
Fouls Committed: 6 / 12