It’s a hot afternoon in Fortaleza on Brazil’s north-eastern coast, with temperatures hovering around thirty degrees Celsius at around sixty percent humidity – perfect energy-sapping conditions. Having come through his final pre-match training session centre-back Mats Hummels has managed to shrug off the thigh strain sustained against Portugal, and Nationaltrainer Jogi Löw is able to name an unchanged starting eleven for this crucial second group game against Ghana.
It is a repeat of four years ago in South Africa when the Mannschaft would beat the Black Stars in their final group match courtesy of a special Mesut Özil strike, though the pre-match situation is just a little bit different. Four years ago Germany would have to win to ensure their progress into the knock out phase, but following their unlucky last-gasp 2-1 defeat against the United States it is Ghana that will have to do all the chasing in a sweltering hot Estádio Plácido Aderaldo Castelão.
The game sees centre-back Per Mertesacker become Germany’s tenth centurion, and the second meeting of the brothers Boateng – Germany’s Jérôme and Ghana’s Kevin-Prince.
Led on by Brazilian referee Sandro Ricci, Germany are again their new-look (but still slightly unfamiliar) all-white ensemble, while the Ghanaians are in their change strip of all red with yellow and black trim. The teams great each other, and there’s a hug from Kevin-Prince Boateng for Mesut Özil – but just a slap of the hands for his brother.
1 min. The Nationalmannschaft get things under way to a roar from the sizeable German contingent among the crowd of just under sixty thousand.
3 mins. A slow start, but no surprise given the heat and humidity.
6 mins. Careful play from Germany, and Özil’s attempt to slide the ball through to Thomas Müller is intercepted.
7 mins. The first half-chance of the game as Asamoah Gyan scoops a shot over the bar following a good cross from Christian Atsu. Excellent defending by new centurion Mertesacker to close him down.
10 mins. Lahm slides the ball through the Ghana defence for Özil, but there’s just a little too much on it and ‘keeper Fatawu Dauda collects.
11 mins. Some neat interplay from Özil and Mario Götze, and a crisp backheel from Müller sets up Toni Kroos for a long-range effort, but his well-struck shot is blocked by Kevin-Prince Boateng.
13 mins. Ghana burst up through the middle of the pitch through Kevin-Prince Boateng, and Atsu gets his shot on target. There’s plenty of power behind it but Manuel Neuer does well to make the save.
15 mins. It has been an interesting first fifteen minutes, with Ghana looking the sharper of the two teams.
18 mins. Kroos challenges well in on the right and sets up Özil to float down the right, who finds Sami Khedira in space to his inside. The Real Madrid man gets his low shot on target, but it is easily collected by Dauda.
21 mins. Mertesacker wins the ball and sets up another break for Özil, who sends in another right-wing cross towards Müller. Monday’s hat-trick hero slides in for the finish, but defender John Boye does enough and the ball rolls wide.
25 mins. It has been a good few minutes for Löw’s men, with most of the play taking place in the Ghana half.
26 mins. Kroos has another effort from distance, but sees it fly over the crossbar.
29 mins. A fast break down the right is initiated by Jérôme Boateng, and Götze sprints down towards the byline. Only Müller has managed to keep up, and Götze’s cross is turned behind for a Kroos corner which is easily caught by Dauda.
32 mins. Some pressure from Ghana as the German defence find it difficult to clear, but this somewhat frantic spell ends with a poor final cross.
33 mins. Another long-range effort from the Ghanaians, this time from Sulley Muntari whose well struck shot is beaten away by Neuer.
34 mins. The dangerous Asamoah Gyan slips his marker and charges down the left towards the German goal, but the imposing Neuer shows enough presence to put the Ghana striker off and the ball goes off for a goal kick.
36 mins. Kroos finds Özil down the left, but with only Müller to aim for cross is out behind for a corner. Kroos sends in his effort from the left towards Khedira, but Ghana clear their lines.
37 mins. Özil dinks the ball over a number of red shirts for the fast-advancing Götze down the right flank, whose first-time volley is on target but straight at Dauda who collects easily.
40 mins. Some good pressure from Germany sees Müller almost find Götze in the centre, and as the Ghana defence fail to clear Boateng sends in a teasing cross that is headed out of the danger area.
43 mins. Ghana try to catch the German defence out with the long ball tactic, but Atsu is flagged offside. Lucky, as he looked to have timed his run perfectly.
45 mins. An excellent cross into the German box towards André Ayew, but Jérôme Boateng is there first to put it behind for a corner. The kick is swung in, and Neuer punches clear.
45+1 mins. The final move of the first half is from Özil, who cuts the ball inside for Kroos whose badly-scuffed shoot loops over the bar.
A pretty even and hard-fought contest, with Germany looking the more dangerous overall but Ghana creating the clearer opportunities. The biggest problem for Germany has been the lack of bodies in the box, with Müller often being left to fend for himself. As a result there has been plenty of threat down the flanks but little or no threat to ‘keeper Dauda.
Might there be a tactical change in the offing for the Mannschaft? With Müller looking isolated in the box and there being plenty of breaks down the flanks, it might be time for veteran stirker Miroslav Klose to make his first appearance of the tournament.
Perhaps there is little to worry about: in their two games against Ghana, Germany have scored seven times with every goal coming after the hour mark.
46 mins. Ghana kick off the second half. There’s a slightly surprising change for Germany, with Jérôme Boateng being replaced by Shkodran Mustafi.
47 mins. Götze looks to advance down the left but is easily bullied off the ball by Harrison Afful.
50 mins. Just as in the first half, it has been a rather cagey opening five minutes.
51 mins. Finally. Another break down the right, this time by Müller who sends in a delicious floated cross into the penalty area. Götze sneaks in between two red-shirted defenders to nod the ball past Dauda off his knee from seven yards. Götze’s tenth international goal is not the prettiest he will ever score, but what a cross from Müller that was. 1-0.
Mario’s Götze wheels away after scoring Germany’s opener against Ghana in Fortaleza
53 mins. Ghana make their first change as Jordan Ayew replaces Kevin-Prince Boateng. Meanwhile, an intruder makes his way onto the pitch, getting as far as the centre circle before he is ushered off.
54 mins. Out of nowhere, Afful sends in lovely cross from the right, and André Ayew gets behind Mertesacker and above Mustafi to guide the ball to Neuer’s right with a brilliantly-timed header. The clean sheet has been smudged, and the scores are level. 1-1.
60 mins. The two goals have given way to a slight lull in the play, but Germany break again down the right. Mustafi gets in behind the defence and sends in firm low cross, but Dauda collects.
63 mins. Lahm needlessly gives the ball away inside his own half, and Sulley Muntari seizes the chance to push the ball out to Gyan who is in acres of space. The Black Stars’ star man needs no further invitation as composes himself and lashes the ball past Neuer. 1-2.
66 mins. Ghana have clearly got the bit between their teeth now, and almost score a third. Another fast break down the left catches the German defence cold not for the first time, but Jordan Ayew chooses to shoot rather than play the easier pass to the unmarked Gyan. Ayew’s shot is little threat for Neuer, who could very well have been picking the ball out of the back of his net for the third time in the space of thirteen minutes.
68 mins. Another brilliant move from the Africans, as Jordan Ayew sends in a cross from the left that is just too high for his brother André.
69 mins. It’s a double change for Germany, with Klose coming on for Götze and Bastian Schweinsteiger replacing the tiring Khedira.
71 mins. What an impact. Germany win a corner out on the left, and Kroos’ floating inswinger is well met by Benedikt Höwedes. The Schalke 04 center-back’s header looks to be heading for the bottom right had corner of the Ghanaian net, but the the inevitable Klose makes absolutely sure as he steals in at the first post to stab the ball home from almost right on the goal line with his first touch. It is Klose’s seventieth international goal and his fifteenth in World Cup finals, taking him ahead of Gerd Müller and level with the record held by Brazil’s Ronaldo. 2-2.
Two minutes after coming on, Miroslav Klose scores his fifteenth World Cup finals goal, equalling the record of Brazil’s Ronaldo
73 mins. Kroos sends in another testing cross and Schweinsteiger heads narrowly over the bar. It definitely looks like the Mannschaft have been nudged into another gear by Ghana’s impertinence.
75 mins. Klose’s cross towards Müller is well punched clear by a flying Dauda, but as Ghana struggle to clear the danger the men in white win a free kick just outside the penalty area. The free-kick looks like one those elaborate training ground routines, and Schweinsteiger’s effort flies narrowly over.
78 mins. It’s Ghana’s turn to make a double change, as Emmanuel Badu and Mubarak Wakaso come on for Atsu and Mohamed Rabiu.
80 mins. Özil makes another floating run into the Ghanaian box, but his attempt to find Lahm is foiled by the impressive Afful.
84 mins. Gyan spins past Hummels out on the right, but Jordan Ayew is flagged offside. The play switches quickly to the other end, and Kroos almost finds Müller who is just about to pull the trigger when Kwandwo Asamoah makes a magnificent challenge.
86 mins. So close again. Özil gets behind the Ghana defence down the left, and his cross eludes Dauda with with Schweinsteiger poised to strike – only to be foiled by another desperate yet perfectly-time challenge, this time from Jonathan Mensah.
89 mins. More strong play for the Africans who continue to press for a winner. Afful makes his way down the right, and his cross finds Gyan who shoots wide.
90 mins. This is like two heavyweights slugging it out. Ghana are continuing to press for a winner, while the Germans are still looking to deliver the counter-punch. Klose goes close from just inside the box, sweeping the ball just wide of the target. Meanwhile, Neuer provides his own comedy moment as the ball slips out of his hand and he tries to throw it. Thankfully it is not far in front of him and he hoofs it up the field.
90 + 1 mins. Germany win a corner when a Mustafi cross is headed behind, but Ghana clear and send the ball back up to the other end of the pitch. Subsitute Waso is caught offside with the German defence struggling to make their way back.
90 + 2. The ball goes off for a Ghana throw, and Jogi Löw overhits his attempt to get the ball back into play. The commentators describe it as “cynical”, but it looks like a simple case of everyone just getting a bit carried away in the afternoon heat.
90 + 3 mins. Muntari earns the first yellow card of the match for hacking down Kroos, and there’s a chance right at the death for a winner. Kroos and Müller do the plotting, but Ghana clear. In the melée Boye and Müller challenge for the ball and Müller gets a firm shoulder in the face. The German number thirteen is bloodied and bruised, and the final whistle is blown.
After a fairly ordinary first half, it has been a frenetic second forty-five minutes in Fortaleza. With both sides contributing in equal measure to an exciting encounter, one can only say it the 2-2 draw is a fair result. The tireless Ghanaians have had some excellent chances to win the game, but Joachim Löw’s side would continually pose a danger with their fast movement down the flanks. The result could have gone wither way, with Ghana making the wrong decisions in the last third at crucial times and defending like Trojans at the other with a number of goal-saving challenges.
Despite the physical nature of the game it has been a fair contest, ruined only by Muntari’s silly foul on Kroos in injury time. It has arguably been one of the most exciting games of the tournament so far.
The point takes the Mannschaft onto four points from their two games, meaning that a place in the second phase can only be confirmed after their final group match with the United States in Recife on Thursday. With just the one point from their two games, it will be a case of all or nothing for Ghana in their final game against Portugal.
v Ghana, Estádio Plácido Aderaldo Castelão, Fortaleza (First Phase Group G) 21.06.2014
Götze 51., Klose 71. / A. Ayew 54., Gyan 63.
Germany: Neuer – Boateng (46. Mustafi), Mertesacker, Hummels, Höwedes – Lahm (c) – Khedira (69. Schweinsteiger), Kroos – Özil, Götze (69. Klose), Müller
Ghana: Dauda – Afful, Boye, Jonathan Mensah , Asamoah – Rabiu, Muntari – Atsu, K.-P. Boateng (53. J. Ayew), A. Ayew – Gyan (c)
Referee: Sandro Ricci (Brazil)
Assistants: Emerson de Carvalho, Marcelo van Gasse (Brazil)
Fourth Official: Víctor Hugo Carrillo (Peru)
Fifth Official: Rodney Aquino (Paraguay)
Yellow Cards: – / Muntari 90.+3.
Red Cards: – / –
Ball Possession: 59% / 41%
Attempts on Target: 6 / 10
Attempts off Target: 5 / 10
Corners: 7 / 3
Fouls Committed: 11 / 16
Man of the Match: Mario Götze