Just under four years after their historic World Cup semi-final victory in Belo Horizonte, it was time for Germany to meet Brazil again, this time at the Olympiastadion in Berlin. For Jogi Löw and his team, it was just another Testspiel, an opportunity to experiment and rotate the squad. For the Brazilians however, there was a steely determination to fix some deep wounds. The result was an anaemic display from the Mannschaft, and a hard-earned 1-0 victory for A Seleção.
Neutrals might have expected a spectacular display from the Samba Kings, but instead were provided with a disciplined and well-drilled approach that would not have been out of place in tournament play. While the Germans made a raft of changes in the second half, Brazilian coach Tite made just one.
The game was decided less than ten minutes before half time, when striker Gabriel Jesus stole march on the German defence before sending a header that was too much for German ‘keeper Kevin Trapp to cope with. Brazil maintained their shape, and the B-list Mannschaft were unable to kickstart any sort of revival.
Jogi’s Jungs will now have to wait until June for their first victory of 2018. The defeat also brought an end to a long unbeaten run that had stretched back to the summer of 2016.
Facts and Stats
This was Germany’s 22nd meeting with Brazil, a series in which they have registered a paltry five wins. The 1-0 defeat in Berlin was their thirteenth defeat in a series spanning 55 years, going back to the first meeting in Hamburg in May 1963, where Sepp Herberger’s side fell to a 2-1 defeat.
The Mannschaft’s previous home meeting with Brazil had seen them secure an entertaining 3-2 win in Stuttgart in August 2011, and the last meeting between the two countries was of course that semi-final, arguably the greatest single day in the history of German football. (With the possible exception of 4th July 1954).
Of that victorious 2014 team, only two took to the field in Berlin: midfielder Toni Kroos, and the man who wearing the captain’s armband for the first time, FC Bayern München centre-back Jérôme Boateng. While Boateng took his international appearances tally to 71, Kroos moved onto 82, passing Bernd Schneider, Wolfgang Overath and Karl-Heinz Förster on the all-time list.
Löw matches Derwall
The most significant record however, was the team’s long unbeaten run. Going back to the defeat by France in the semi-final at Euro 2016, Löw’s men had put together an impressive series of 22 matches without defeat – matching the figure set by Jupp Derwall’s team between October 1978 and January 1981.
Derwall remains the German coach with the most successful start. Having kicked off with a 4-3 friendly win over Czechoslovakia in Prague, the run included the triumph at Euro 1980 before it finally came to an end with a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Argentina in the one-off Copa de Oro mini tournament in Uruguay.
Interestingly, Derwall’s undefeated run should have come to 23 matches. In his second match in charge, a friendly against Hungary in Frankfurt, the score was still locked at 0-0 when the match was abandoned after an hour due to heavy fog.
Once again, the Olympiastadion in Berlin would cast its mysterious spell over the German team. The famous ground has been something of a banana skin over the years, particularly when hosting friendly matches.
Since the Second World War, Germany have played thirteen friendly internationals at the Olympiastadion, winning five, drawing two and losing six. In contrast, they have played the same number of competitive matches, winning eight, drawing four and losing just one. Even that one competitive reverse had a friendly feel about it – a rare penalty shootout defeat by Sweden in the West Berlin four-team mini tournament in 1988.
The Mannschaft has now lost its last three friendlies in Berlin, with the last positive result coming against France in August 1987. Like England, the Olympiastadion has been a very good venue for Brazil. A Seleção has played three times in Berlin, winning twice and drawing once.
As a spectacle, there was nothing particularly memorable about the encounter. Brazil were disciplined and unspectacular, a throwback to the Dunga era rather than the days of Garrincha and Pelé. Germany meanwhile were far from their best, with a number of players finding it hard to slot into different roles in a new-look lineup. It all made for a tedious encounter, at least compared to the previous fixture against Spain.
There were few chances early on, but the Brazilians soon started to assert themselves as the Germans struggled to find any sort of rhythm. Gabriel Jesus would get away without being flagged offside before he blasted an ugly shot over the crossbar, but made no mistake just moments later when he darted through the middle of the German box to meet Willian’s pinpoint right-sided cross.
It is hard to say for sure whether Manuel Neuer or Marc-André ter Stegen would have kept out the Brazilian striker’s header, but Kevin Trapp’s effort was messy, first flapping at the ball and then looking like a drunken octopus as he tried to swipe it back out – after it had already crossed the line.
One might have hoped that going behind would have given the Germans a kick up the collective Arsch, but they were unable to put any real pressure on their determined and well-drilled opponents. The coach made three quick changes just after the hour mark and then threw on an extra striker at the end, but to no avail.
The rotated midfield had simply failed to click, and the lack of any real service from the wings was telling. Crosses were either badly overhit or misplaced, and set plays were woeful. The Mannschaft racked up nine corners to the Brazilians’ five, and not one of them was remotely threatening. Given the number of taller players in the team, this was particularly disappointing.
The 72,000 plus home crowd had to wait until the regulation ninety minutes had passed before Brazilian ‘keeper Alisson was properly tested, when a well-struck effort from the otherwise disappointing Julian Draxler was spectacularly turned behind.
Conclusions and Ratings
In the end, this was a fair result. The coach made it clear afterwards that plenty of work needs to be done, and a bluntly honest Toni Kroos was quoted as saying that the team may not be as good as everybody thinks.
Of course, this is Germany we are talking about here. There will be the usual talking down, lowering the bar to the perfect level before the team hits their straps in Russia in June.
This was a disappointing defeat. It was a shame that the team could not extend the unbeaten record and keep building momentum. The coach probably miscalculated just how much the Brazilians wanted to get a result. But in the end, it all means little. This is not the team that will start in the World Cup.
This was an opportunity for the PSG ‘keeper to present his case for a place in the World Cup squad, but it would be honest to say that it was not his best showing. Trapp was poor with his distribution, and made a hash of Gabriel Jesus’ header. In fairness, he was a little better in the second half, pulling off a stunning save to deny Paulinho.
Kimmich was decent enough going forward, without really being effective. Produced a couple of testing crosses in the second half, but the biggest problem was at the back were he struggled at times. Was caught napping for the Brazilian goal. Not a match to remember for the FC Bayern München right-back.
A proud moment for Boateng, who got to live out a childhood dream by playing Brazil in his home city. In fact, a doubly proud moment with his also being given the captain’s armband for the first time. Was solid enough at the back, but like Kimmich was given the slip by Gabriel Jesus. Took a knock in the second half, and was replaced shortly afterwards by Niklas Süle.
Showed plenty of pace and strength, and had a solid enough evening. Was not really tested in the first half, but sprinted in the execute an excellent block in the second. On what was a poor evening for the team generally, Rüdiger was one of those who was better than average.
Playing on his home club ground, the Hertha BSC left-back had a few bright moments, but was never really effective. Tried his best going forward and did not make many mistakes at the back, but was probably a little too cautious in his approach.
Playing out of his usual position, the Manchester City midfielder had a quiet and ineffective evening. His passing was poor and inaccurate at times, and there was little in the way of attacking intent. Was replaced by Timo Werner with nine minutes remaining.
An above average showing, with the engine still ticking over but running in second gear. Kroos was his usual relaxed self and error-free, but unable to any real impact on the overall team performance. One of the better German players, but that is not really saying much.
No major mistakes from the young Bayern-bound midfielder, but this was probably because he was largely anonymous. Like an number of others, he never really got to grips with his designated role. Replaced just after the hour mark by Julian Brandt.
Draxler had made up for a poor first half against Spain, but could not pull off the same trick this time around. Looked listless and short of ideas, often losing the ball and running into trouble – not great if you have been assigned the playmaker role. Could have salvaged the match right at the death, with a well-struck shot that forced Brazilian ‘keeper Alisson into a fine save.
All fluff and no substance from the young winger, who was guilty of trying way too hard. Showed the occasional turn of speed, but more often than not lost the ball or simply ran into an opponent. Sané has impressed this season for his club, but still remains something of an enigma in the Nationaltrikot. Replaced by Lars Stindl after 61 minutes.
Playing for a place at what will surely be his last major international tournament, the big striker looked sluggish and a good yard short of pace. Never really had a sniff of an opportunity, but that probably had more to do with the lack of service more than anything else.
Replaced Goretzka with half an hour remaining, and tried his best to spark an insipid German team into life. Made a couple of decent runs down the right and sent in a few teasing crosses.
Replaced Sané after 61 minutes, and failed to make any real impression. Had a couple of long distance efforts, none of which threatened Alisson in the Brazilian goal.
Came on for Gómez two minutes after the hour, and tried his best to get into the game. Showed plenty of energy to make up for his lack of natural pace, but opportunities in front of goal were fleeting at best. Was able to fashion a couple of half-chances.
Replaced Gündoğan for the final nine minutes, and tried his best to shake things up in the closing moments. In the end, there was not enough time for him to make an impact.
Trapp (5), Kimmich (4), Boateng (3), Rüdiger (3), Plattenhardt (4), Gündoğan (5), Kroos (3), Draxler (3), Goretzka (4), Sané (4), Gómez (5).
Trapp (4), Kimmich (3.5), Boateng (3), Rüdiger (3.5), Plattenhardt (3.5), Gündoğan (5), Kroos (3), Draxler (3.5), Goretzka (4), Sané (5.5), Gómez (4).
Trapp (4.5), Kimmich (4), Boateng (3), Rüdiger (3), Plattenhardt (3), Gündoğan (4.5), Kroos (3), Draxler (5), Goretzka (5), Sané (5), Gómez (5).
Bild player ratings remain behind a paywall, and Sport-Bild did not appear to have any numbers. Fourth choice Express.de was used for the third ratings overview.