Germany v France post-match review and player ratings

A new year, a new green and white Trikot harking back to the glory days of 1972, a prestige friendly against tough opposition: all seemed set for a sparkling start to the slow build-up towards the Euro 2012 finals in Poland and the Ukraine in June. Well that was the idea at least.


The 2-1 defeat meant that the Mannschaft continued their dismal recent record against France – a run that now extends to six matches with five defeats and one goalless draw. The one bright note on what was a very damp night in Bremen was that Cacau’s goal in added time finally meant that a French defence had been punctured for the first time in twenty-two years and a day, with the last being scored by Andreas Möller in Montpellier on the last day of February 1990.

The disappointment came not in the defeat itself, but in the nature of a performance that was disjointed, at times clueless and – during most of the second half – not worthy of a side that has been touted as one of the big favourites to life the European title in Kiev in June. There were sparks of inspiration and some unlucky moments, but it’s fair to say that the overall display posed a number of questions for Nationaltrainer Joachim Löw.

The team now has no further opportunities to play together until the end of the regular season and the final squad is announced in May; after the squad is named, there are two friendlies against Switzerland and Israel that are likely to be even less useful than than yesterday’s encounter in Bremen was. There will always be much talk about these games being “only” a friendly, but the fact is that they are the only real opportunity to put the players together ahead of a major tournament.

In the moths prior to a major international tournament a regular Freundschaftsspiel is usually seen as a Testspiel; from what I saw yesterday however only one side was taking things any way seriously. Yes, it may be “only” a friendly in that there is nothing at stake bar the satisfaction of winning – but I am saying right now that we should be watching out for the French who have now gone eighteen matches without tasting defeat under coach Laurent Blanc.

The Tactics

Löw played the same 4-3-2-1 formation that has taken the Netherlands to the cleaners back in November, but to many observers things were not quite as they had been at the end of last year. The team had swept the Dutch aside without the services of skipper Philipp Lahm or his deputy Bastian Schweinsteiger, but the steel, tactical nouse and experience provided by both of these players was badly needed yesterday. Things are always fine when you are winning, but when you need to work a little the absence of such established stars is felt just that little bit more.

During the first half things were actually not that bad, and it is fair to say that on another evening the home side could very easily have scored a couple of goals before half-time. Miroslav Klose was not quite firing, but he never really got the rub of the green and on occasion French ‘keeper Hugo Lloris closed the Lazio striker down brilliantly to execute a first-class save. While Klose was on the field one had the feeling that Germany could score, and there were a few moments of brilliance as he continued his almost telepathic relationship with Mesut Özil.

Things fell away dramatically at the start of the second half when Klose was replaced by Mario Gómez, who continues to look all at sea when playing for the Nationalmannschaft. Gómez does not provide the same “glue” that Klose does, and was often left isolated. He only had one half-chance, when he sent a glancing header just wide of the opposition far post from a deliciously good Holger Badstuber cross – apart from that, he was completely anonymous.

The main issue was however with the defence, which was a complete and utter shambles. Any hopes that Dennis Aogo must have of making the final cut must now be hanging on a very fine thread as it was his sloppiness that allowed the French to break down the right and present Olivier Giroud with an unmissable chance to give Les Bleus the lead, and a complete mix-up involving Mats Hummels and Benedikt Höwedes allowed Florent Malouda to lash in France’s second to effectively seal the match. ‘Keeper Tim Wiese had no chance with both goals, and was one of the few players to turn out a reasonable performance as he pulled off a number of good saves, one of which was world-class.

It’s scant consolation given that he will always be at the fringe of the squad and a distant third choice behind Klose and Gómez, but Cacau once again proved that he is the perfect last-minute “Joker” with another injury time goal to follow his at-the-death equaliser in Poland last year. It was the thinnest of silver linings.

The Man of the Match

I can’t say that there was really a man of the match in what was a pretty poor performance all ’round – at least among the outfield players. Over the ninety minutes only one man really came out with his reputation intact, and that was Tim Wiese. I have never avoided mentioning that I am not the Bremen Torhüter’s biggest fan, but yesterday he did all that was asked of him and probably secured his berth in the final Euro 2012 squad.

Player overview and ratings

Tim Wiese: Was powerless to prevent either of the two French goals, and actually did well to even get a hand on Malouda’s strike. When the shots flew at him he was there to deal with them, and produced a world-class save in the first half. There was one moment when he flew out to the edge of his box to make a clearance, but there were no kung-fu actics and rushes of blood to the head.

Jérôme Boateng: Not the Bayern man’s best performance at right-back, but solid enough to keep a lid on the dangerous Franck Ribéry during the first half. Solid rather than spectacular, which was just ahead of par for the course on what was a painful evening for the German back four.

Mats Hummels: Like Boateng, the Dortmund centre-back turned out a solid if unspectuacular performance, and did well to save his own blushes with a world-class challenge on Mathieu Valbuena after he had carelessly given the ball away to the Frenchman. Was involved in the mix up that led to France’s second strike.

Holger Badstuber: Was woefully out of position during the move that led to France’s opening goal, which served to make Aogo’s carelessness look even worse. At times Badstuber looks world-class – especially going forward when he gets the chance to send in one of those dangerous left-footed crosses – but he also sometimes looks as though he has his head in the clouds. Almost scored when his header hit the base of the post, and was replaced by Benedikt Höwedes at half-time.

Dennis Aogo: It’s a sad thing to say but the Hamburger SV man looked completely out of his depth, and every time the ball came in his direction there would be a lump-in-the-throat moment. It was his ball-watching that allowed French wingback Mathieu Debuchy to skin him alive and set up the first goal, and even going forward he was just lacking something. Without Philipp Lahm, the left-back position is a real problem.

Sami Khedira: Not the best performance from Khedira, but not the worst either in what was a poor team performance overall. He was able to boss his section of the field efficiently enough. Was replaced by Lars Bender with twenty minutes remaining.

Toni Kroos: Kroos has been in poor form for much of this season, and it showed. Apart from a header that he sent just wide of the target in the second half Kroos was simply anonymous, and when he did actually find time on the ball he looked sluggish and uninterested. I’m actually surprised that he stayed on the field for the entire ninety minutes.

Marco Reus: Finally given a start, Reus started off quickly and was involved in a few sharp breaks down the right but quickly faded into anonymity. It can be argued that the system employed by Jogi Löw is different from that employed by Lucien Favre at Mönchengladbach, but Reus offered little to justify the hype. There will be few opportunities for him to prove himself before the Euros, and Thomas Müller’s position seems safe for now. Was replaced by Cacau after 70 minutes.

Mesut Özil: One of the few players that looked reasonably sharp, but ended up being let down by what was going on around him – the result being that he ended up looking just as ordinary as the rest. Combined well with Miroslav Klose in the first half and was just wide with a well-taken right-footed shot from distance, but found himself floating about aimlessly for much of the second half.

André Schürrle: Like Toni Kroos, Schürrle is another player who has been off the boil for a while at club level – and again it showed with what was a lacklustre performance. He probably would have been subbed at half-time anyway, but made absolutely certain when his nose met the flailing elbow of Debuchy just short of the half-time whistle. Was replaced a minute before the break by Thomas Müller.

Miroslav Klose: It wasn’t Klose’s finest performance in the Nationaltrikot by any means, but on another evening he might well have scored a couple of goals. Was guilty of scuffing one chance and found French ‘keeper Hugo Lloris in fine form with another, before being brought down in the box by a challenge that went unseen by the referee. Took a knock just before half-time, and was replaced at the break by Mario Gómez.

Thomas Müller: Came on for the injured Schürrle at the end of the first half, and as the French started to establish a hold on the game was not provided with many opportunities to test the opposition defence for most of the time he was on the field. When he was able to break free, he produced that cross that resulted in the German goal.

Mario Gómez: Come on for Klose at the start of the second half, and apart from one half chance that saw his header float past the far post was completely anonymous. Gómez’ introduction if anything contributed to the team’s fractured performance in the second half, as he was often left isolated.

Benedikt Höwedes: Came on for Badstuber at the start of the second half, and delivered a very similar performance. Was involved in the defensive mess-up that led to the second French goal.

Lars Bender: On for twenty minutes in place of Khedira, though you would never have known it if you had looked away. Bender didn’t make any obvious mistakes, but by the same token he didn’t really contribute much either.

Cacau: Coming on for Reus after seventy minutes, Cacau once again showed his knack for popping up right at the death and scoring late goals. He couldn’t really miss the opportunity when it came his way, but hats off to him for showing enough awareness to be in the right place at the right time.

So, a poor performance and a poor start to 2012… Though if there are any omens to look at here, Germany lost 2-1 to France on the last day of February 1990, and went on the win the World Cup later that summer.

My ratings:

Wiese (2.5), Boateng (3.5), Hummels (4), Badstuber (5), Aogo (6), Khedira (4), Kroos (5.5), Reus (4.5), Özil (3), Schürrle (6), Klose (3.5). Subs: Müller (4), Gómez (5), Höwedes (5), L. Bender (4.5), Cacau (3)

Bild’s ratings:

Wiese (3), Boateng (6), Hummels (5), Badstuber (5), Aogo (6), Khedira (4), Kroos (3), Reus (4), Özil (4), Schürrle (4), Klose (3). Subs: Müller (4), Gómez (5), Höwedes (5), L. Bender (4), Cacau (4)

Scary Stat of the Day

This was goalkeeper Tim Wiese’s sixth appearance for the Mannschaft, and on every occasion he has not been able to finish on the winning side.

Germany v France post-match review and player ratings
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2 thoughts on “Germany v France post-match review and player ratings

  • March 1, 2012 at 21:55

    Thanks Albert, keep the comments coming in! I actually thought given the overall picture Boateng had a pretty solid game. OK, nothing special but no mistakes – he also kept Ribery quiet during the first half.

    I think many people are disagreeing about Kroos – there was little there from him and he looked uninterested and lazy for the most part. Maybe I was a little harsh though… Maybe a 4-4.5. Schürrle also did nothing, but I can see your point about Miro. I was actually toying with the idea of notching his score up a bit but thought I’d stick with my immediate post-match feeling.

    It will be interesting to see what Kicker have to say! 🙂

  • March 1, 2012 at 19:11

    Regarding the ratings, I agree more with Bild than you 🙂

    Boateng was nowhere near 3.5, Kroos was more like 3.5, Schurrle maybe 4.5, Klose was the best even if he didn’t score, so probably 2.5 (max 3)


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