In perhaps the most one-sided contest since David versus Goliath – OK, Germany versus San Marino – the Nationalmannschaft take on UEFA’s newest member Gibraltar at the Grundig-Stadion – otherwise known as the Frankenstadion – in Nürnberg. After two disappointing outings against Poland and the Republic of Ireland last month Joachim Löw’s side will be looking at restoring confidence – with many commentators predicting a goalfest against a Gibraltarian side that have shipped no fewer than seventeen goals in their first three games.
Following injuries to a number of key players including Marco Reus, André Schürrle and Christoph Kramer the German coach has made plenty of changes, with the recalled Shkodran Mustafi joining Jérôme Boateng and Erik Durm in a new-look back three and Sami Khedira returning for his first outing since the World Cup semi-final against Brazil. Arsenal’s Lukas Podolski also makes a start, and the recalled Borussia Mönchengladbach front man Max Kruse starts alongside Thomas Müller up front.
It’s a cool evening in Nürnberg as the two teams line up for the national anthems, with the Nationalelf in their all-white ensemble and Gibraltar in a striking all red kit with white trim.
1 min. The home team gets things under way. Gibraltar have started as everyone as expected, piling everybody behind the ball – a big red bus.
4 mins. The first chance as Mustafi’s ball into the box is neatly flicked back by Khedira to Müller, who scuffs his shot wide.
6 mins. Germany win a couple of corners, and after some poor defending from the men in red Toni Kroos has a shot that finds the side netting.
9 mins. Gibraltar make a rare foray into German territory, and they have almost made it to the ten minute mark without conceding. The home side win another corner and Karim Bellarabi sends a well-struck shot which is turned away well by ‘keeper Jamie Robba.
11 mins. Podolski has a shot from distance that flies over the target.
12 mins. Mustafi collects a pass from Bellarabi and makes his way down the right, and sends in a cross that cannons off the near post. Robba is completely bamboozled, and the ball falls to Müller who sweeps it into the net to open the scoring. 1-0.
Thomas Müller scores the first of what was expected to be a glut of goals. It was not to be.
13 mins. Bellarabi now sends in a cross from the right and Podolski heads over the bar.
16 mins. Kroos sends in a low shot from distance that takes a deflection off Roy Chipolina, but Robba does well to collect.
17 mins. Durm’s attempted cross is out behind for another German corner which comes to nothing.
21 mins. Mustafi’s right-sided cross is put behind for another corner, and Kroos’s outswinger is easily cleared. Germany win the ball back quickly however, and Boateng hits a lovely right-footed curler that skims the outside of the post.
23 mins. Boateng sends in another shot and Robba collects. The Gibraltar ‘keeper has made a decent start.
24 mins. More good approach play and Bellarabi sends in a teasing low cross, but there’s nobody there to get on the end of it. Meanwhile, some sections of the crowd have broken into a Mexican wave.
27 mins. Bellarabi is causing havoc down the right, and the Leverkusen man’s cross is almost put into his own net by Juan Carlos Garcia. There’s another corner for the Mannschaft, but Bellarabi’s kick is a little too strong.
29 mins. Podolski is left free to break down the left, and his low cross is rolled in front of the retreating defenders for Müller who taps home. 2-0.
31 mins. There’s another corner for the home side. Bellarabi sends it in nicely but Robba comes out to punch clear.
34 mins. The men in white continue to press, it’s only a matter of time until they score the third. There’s yet another corner, and it is played short to Kroos who tries to weave past the a number of red shirts before he is finally crowded out.
36 mins. A Mustafi cross is put behind in messy fashion for yet another corner, and from the end of Germany fashion another attack which sees Boateng head wide when he perhaps should have hit the target.
38 mins. Mario Götze plays a neat one-two with Kruse before weaving into the box and stroking the ball low into the bottom right-hand corner with his right foot. The defenders stand off and make it easy, but it’s a really nice finish. 3-0.
Mario Götze expertly puts away Germany’s third goal seven minutes before half time
42 mins. Götze is brought down some twenty-five yards out and win a free-kick, and Kroos’s nicely-floated effort is just a little too high and hits the top of the goal.
44 mins. Gibraltar win a corner, but it is well overhit. Just moments later Manuel Neuer is called into action as Liam Walker’s speculative but well-struck volley is on target and brilliantly turned behind by the German ‘keeper. Gibraltar win a second corner, but are unable to make anything from it.
45 mins. The whistle blows for half time.
As expected Germany have dominated proceedings, but have arguably been slightly wasteful despite having over eighty percent of the possession. Far too many shots from distance and some poor decision making have contributed to their only having scored three goals against a game but poor Gibraltar team, and Jogi Löw will be looking for his men to settle down better in the second half against opponents who are bound to tire.
The teams make their way out for the start of the second half, and there don’t appear to be any changes from eigher side.
46 mins. Gibraltar kick off and Brian Perez somehow finds himself inside the German penalty area, but falls over his own feet as he thinks about pulling the trigger.
47 mins. Bellarabi and Mustafi combine down the right, and the Valencia man wins another corner. Once again though it is easily cleared by the men in red. That’s a dozen corners now, and not one inkling of a threat from any of them.
49 mins. Germany’s thirteenth corner is a little better as the ball is worked towards the far post, but it is just a little too far in front of Khedira’s outstretched right leg.
51 mins. There’s plenty of passing in and around the Gibraltar penalty area as the Mannschaft look to work past the obdurate ten-man defence.
52 mins. Kroos looks for the right hand corner, but instead sends an ugly effort high over the target.
53 mins. Bellarabi sends in another teasing ball but Scott Wiseman does well to turn it behind for yet another corner – which inevitably comes to nothing.
54 mins. A Kruse shot results yet another corner which is taken short, and Bellarabi’s low snapshot is collected easily enough by Robba.
56 mins. Germany win a free-kick for handball just outside the area, and everybody lines up for what looks like an excellent opportunity. Müller leaves it for Podolski, who cracks a left-footed effort straight at the wall. Almost immediately they launch another attack, and Kroos sends another shot over the crossbar.
57 mins. Bellarabi is brought down as he makes his way down the right and Germany are awarded the free-kick, but Kroos’s kick is easily cleared.
58 mins. There’s a change for the visitors as Jack Sergeant is replaced by Yogan Santos.
60 mins. Jogi Löw also makes a change, sending on 1899 Hoffenheim’s Kevin Volland for Khedira.
61 mins. The not particularly impressive Kruse has a shooting chance, but blazes high.
63 mins. Müller dances into the opposition penalty area and tries to engineer a shot, but curls his effort wide of the target.
65 mins. Another well-aimed Mustafi cross almost finds Müller, but David Artell clears.
66 mins. Kroos sends another low shot wide.
67 mins. Podolski makes his way to the byline and sends in a low cross, and with Volland lurking at the far post the unfortunate Santos can only turn the ball into his own net. 4-0.
69 mins. Bellarabi does well to jink inside the opposition box and find Kruse, whose crisp low shot is on target but well gathered by Robba.
70 mins. Götze sends in another German corner, and while the effort is a little better Gibraltar have no problem in clearing the danger.
71 mins. Another change for Gibraltar, as Lee Casciaro is replaced by his younger brother Kyle. There’s also a change for the Mannschaft with new boy Jonas Hector of 1. FC Köln comes on for Durm. He is the 74th player to make his debut in the Löw era.
New boy Jonas Hector replaces Erik Durm to become the 74th player capped by Jogi Löw
73 mins. Hector has a shot on goal, but it’s easy for Robba.
74 mins. Walker finds a little space just outside the German box and gets another shot on target, but Neuer collects easily.
76 mins. Bellarabi sends in a decent corner and Gibraltar only half clear. The ball falls to Podolski outside the box, whose adds to the catalogue of long-distance shockers.
79 mins. Germany make their final change with Toni Kroos makinbg way for the returning Lars Bender.
80 mins. Müller’s first-time effort takes a deflection off a defender and Robba collects. Not a bad effort in what has overall been a lazy display by the world champions.
85 mins. Volland sends in a cross from the left, but it is straight at a red-shirted defender who clears. Another corner is taken short, but comes to nothing.
87 mins. Bender exchanges passes with Götze and heads towards goal, but runs out of space and Robba collects.
88 mins. There are few whistles from the crowd as Bender joins the long distance shocking shot club with a left-footed effort that floats wide, high and into the stand.
89 mins. While Germany have been poor, Gibraltar have maintained their poise and defended pretty solidly.
90+1 mins. A final change for Gibraltar with Adam Priestley coming on for Perez.
90+4 mins. There’s more messing about outside the opposition penalty area, and the referee blows for full time.
There was never going to be an issue about Germany winning this game, but it has been a tired and profligate display by Joachim Löw’s side. I wouldn’t blame anyone in the Nürnberg crowd if they asked for their entrance money back. An excellent opportunity to build confidence going into the winter break has only resulted in more frustration and questions, and no amount of injuries can excuse a performance that was at best ordinary.
Jamie Robba in the Gibraltar goal would have a good game and the minnows’ well-drilled defensive strategy would frustrate the star-studded German lineup for long spells, but does not excuse the poor decision-making – particularly with the barrage of long-distance shots which were beyond woeful.
Among the very few positives, Thomas Müller would be his usual self with two decent finishes, Shkodran Mustafi and Karim Bellarabi would provide plenty of movement down the right flank, Jérôme Boateng would turn out another solid ninety minutes and Manuel Neuer would do what he had to do in a game where he would spend most of the time grazing between the posts. On the downside, Toni Kroos would keep the ball boys busy and Max Kruse would once again look out of his depth in the Nationaltrikot – even against second-rate opposition.
Gibraltar can be proud at only conceding four goals after shipping seven against both Poland and the Republic of Ireland, and will surely have less fear of the world champions when the two teams meet again in the Portuguese city of Faro next year. However before that the Nationalmannschaft will have a tricky journey to Tbilisi to face a tenacious Georgian outfit, who could very well provide something of a banana skin.
v Gibraltar, Grundig-Stadion, Nürnberg, 14.11.2014
Müller 12., 28., Götze 38., Santos og 67. / –
Germany: Neuer (c) – Mustafi, Boateng, Durm (72. Hector*) – Kroos (79. L. Bender) – Khedira (60. Volland), Götze – Bellarabi, Podolski – Müller, Kruse
Gibraltar: Robba – Garcia, Artell, Wiseman, R. Casciaro, J. Chipolina – R. Chipolina (c), Sergeant (58. Santos) – Perez (90+1. Priestley), Walker – L. Casciaro (71. K. Casciaro)
* Full international debut
Referee: Alexandru Tudor (Romania)
Assistants: Aurel Oniţă, Octavian Șovre (Romania)
Goal Line Assistants: Ovidiu Haţegan, Cristian Balaj (Romania)
Fourth Official: Ovidiu Artene (Romania)
Yellow Cards: – / –
Red Cards: – / –
Ball Possession: 75% / 25%
Attempts on Target: 18 / 3
Attempts off Target: 19 / 0
Corners: 20 / 2
Fouls Committed: 4 / 11