The 2014 World Cup campaign is finally underway, with the Mannschaft earning a 3-0 victory over a brave but ultimately limited Faroe Islands side in Hannover. It would be a case of business as usual for Joachim Löw’s side as they did enough to secure the points without ever really hitting the heights many had expected, but it is worth pointing out to the naysayers that the Faroes ‘keeper Gunnar Nielsen had a blinder of a game where he pulled out a number of world class saves.
Sometimes the numbers can be deceptive.
Facts and Stats
This would be Germany’s third meeting with the Faroe Islands, the first two taking place during the qualification stage for the 2004 Euros. Then under Rudi Völler, the Mannschaft would struggle to a 2-1 victory in Hannover before securing a somewhat flattering 2-0 away win with both goals being scored in the dying moments. In both matches Miroslav Klose would find the back of the net.
The win would also be the Nationalmannschaft’s 500th victory in their 865th international, a winning rate of 57.8%.
The Team and Tactics
In the days before the match many observers had expected Löw to stick with the usual 4-2-3-1 formation, but the withdrawal of defensive midfielder Toni Kroos and then left-back Marcel Schmelzer would see a rejig of the starting eleven and the naming of a more attacking – and somewhat controversial – 4-1-4-1 with young Borussia Dortmund star Mario Götze joining Mesut Özil in the middle of the field.
The last time we had seen this formation had been in the bizarre 5-3 defeat in Switzerland before the Euros, but the relative weakness of the opposition would give the Nationaltrainer a decent opportunity to give it another whirl.
In the end, the selection of both Götze and Özil proved to be a good move, with the two playmakers netting all three of Germany’s goals. Whether this formation might be as successful against stronger opposition however is another question entirely.
Germany were quick to establish themselves, and bar a couple of breaks from the visitors the Mannschaft would maintain almost complete control of proceedings for the entire ninety minutes. Possession for the home side was well over eighty percent, and chances would continue to be created. Indeed, they could very easily have been three goals to the good before Götze finally opened their account in the twenty-eighth minute.
The hero of the first half hour was undoubtedly the Faroese ‘keeper Nielsen who produced a string of fine saves to deny Marco Reus, Sami Khedira and Thomas Müller, while frontman Klose was unable to take a couple of chances that on another day he might have buried. When the home side went into the half-time break with just the slender one-goal lead, there were a few whistles from the crowd.
With the visitors piling as many men as they could into the box it would be difficult for the skillful Germans to unlock the obdurate defence, and it would be no surprise when Germany’s second goal came as a result of a fast break that saw the play quickly flood from one end of the field to the other as Müller set up Özil.
Özil would complete the scoring with his second strike with just under twenty minutes remaining, and although substitutes André Schürrle and Lukas Podolski would provide an additional injection of energy, their game opponents would do enough to keep the scoreline respectable.
Conclusions and Ratings
Given the opposition it is difficult to gauge this performance. The German defence were never really tested, apart from one late-match fumble Torhüter Manuel Neuer would have a quiet evening, while the midfield were always in control without being overly spectacular. Skipper Philipp Lahm would make up for a poor first half performance with a better showing in the second, while Klose would look to do better in the next match on Tuesday against Austria.
Some observers were a little disappointed with the result, but I’m not going to join them. It was a solid performance, the Faroes ‘keeper pulled out a great performance, and the three points are safely in the bag. All that remains now is for the coach to iron out the creases ahead of what should be a more testing encounter in Vienna.
The German goalkeeper only had to make two saves – if one can call them that – and apart from a slight fumble late on when he was caught out by an awkward bounce turned out yet another solid performance. He should have a little more to do on Tuesday against the Austrians.
Pushed out to the left wing following the late withdrawal of Schmelzer, the FC Bayern man had a quiet evening. Was slightly disappointing going forward however, and was largely anonymous.
Wasn’t really tested defensively, but showed some spark going forward. Was involved in the opening goal, finding Götze after a good run into the opposition half.
Back in the side after missing out during the Euros, the tall Arsenal defender also had a fairly quiet evening. Looked a little slow at times, but was never really tested by a toothless Faroese attack.
Was caught out in one swift Faroese counterattack and received a booking for a silly foul during the first half, but showed how good he is going forward during the second. Overall, a solid enough display by the captain.
Another decent performance by Khedira, who was this time on his own in front of the back four. Was his usual positive self going forward, and had one shot on goal that was excellently turned around the post by Nielsen.
An effervescent display by the versatile Borussia Dortmund man, who was denied a goal early on by the ubiquitous Nielsen. Was involved in a number of decent moves, and set up the third goal for Özil. Switched to the right flank when Müller was replaced by Schürrle, and was a lot quieter after that.
An encouraging performance from the Dortmund youngster, who showed great energy throughout. Scored an excellent goal to open the scoring, and was in the centre of the action for a number of further attacks. Combined very well with both Reus down the left and Özil through the centre. Was replaced with three minutes left by Julian Draxler, and left the field to warm applause.
After a somewhat quiet first half Germany’s midfield maestro came into his own during the second half with two well-taken goals. Showed good pace and movement throughout, and worked well with all of those around him.
Showed his usual commitment, guile and energy on the right flank, and turned out a decent performance. Was unlucky not to get on the scoresheet when Nielsen denied him with a fine parry, but sent up the second goal for Özil with a well-placed cross. Was replaced by André Schürrle midway through the second half.
The thirty-four year old S. S. Lazio striker would have been hoping to edge closer to Gerd Müller’s goalscoring record, but by his own high standards had a poor evening. Was unlucky on one occasion as he was one of those that saw a shot well stopped by Nielsen, but placed two headers over the bar when he could have done better. Was replaced by Lukas Podolski with a quarter of an hour left.
Came on for Müller for the last quarter of the game and assumed his usual role on the left wing with Marco Reus switching to the right. Never really threatened to score, but showed some good skill and pace to maintain the pressure on the Faroese defence.
Just a quarter of an hour on the pitch for the Arsenal winger as he replaced Klose, but no real chances. After a disappointing Euro 2012 campaign he would have been glad to be back in the international picture.
A three-minute runout for the Schalke 04 teenager after he came on for Götze.
Neuer (3), Badstuber (4), Hummels (3), Mertesacker (4), Lahm (4), Khedira (3), Reus (4), Götze (2), Özil (1), Müller (3), Klose (3). Subs: Schürrle (3), Podolski (3).
Neuer (3), Badstuber (4), Hummels (3), Mertesacker (4), Lahm (4), Khedira (3), Reus (3), Götze (2), Özil (2), Müller (3), Klose (3).
Neuer (3), Badstuber (3.5), Hummels (3), Mertesacker (4), Lahm (3.5), Khedira (3), Reus (3), Götze (2), Özil (1.5), Müller (2.5), Klose (4). Subs (up until 75 minutes only): Schürrle (3), Podolski (3).