Germany v Israel: Match Analysis and Player Ratings

After Saturday’s failed experiment in Basel, yesterday’s final pre-tournament friendly in Leipzig against Israel could best be described as a workmanlike effort against obdurate opposition – a victory without frills.

This is Germany though, the ultimate tournament team – and it is perhaps best not to dwell too much on the odd missed chance in a friendly, especially one played in constant rain against a side embarking on a defensive mission.

Facts and Stats

This was Germany’s fourth win in four matches against the Israelis, and was their first clean sheet since the three goal win against the Netherlands in November 2011. It was also the side’s first victory of 2012, after the two defeats against France and Switzerland.

FC Bayern München goalgetter Mario Gómez scored his twenty-second goal in his fifty-second international, and winger André Schurrle notched up his seventh in fourteen – with this particularly spectacular effort being the fourth he has scored coming on off the bench. It was also his second strike in two matches, following his swerving ‘keeper-aided effort against the Swiss.

The Team and Tactics

After Saturday’s disastrous B-Team 4-1-4-1 experiment there was a return to a more established side playing the more familiar 4-2-3-1 formation, and as a result there was a far more settled look about the team – starting with he return of Manuel Neuer between the sticks.

The return of Philipp Lahm at left-back would make a major difference to the dynamic of the back four, while Lahm’s FC Bayern München team mate Jérôme Boateng provided solidity on the right flank. Holger Badstuber made it three out of four for the Münch’ner, while the coach retained his faith in Per Mertesacker, who would be hoping to secure his place in the starting lineup.

The midfield would also have a more settled look to it, with Sami Khedira and Toni Kroos providing the backbone with Mesut Özil running the show in the middle of the field. Out on the wings Lukas Podolski would get anothet start out on the left, while the recalled Thomas Müller would slot back into his familiar slot on the right flank.

The seventh of the FC Bayern contingent would lead the line, as Mario Gómez was selected to start instead of Miroslav Klose.

The Match

The match itself was for the most part a non-event, as the Israelis seemed determined to play everyone behind the ball. The first half would largely be a frustrating affair as chances were missed, although Jérôme Boateng would come very close to scoring his first international goal when he struck a well-time left-footed effort against the upright.

With Gómez unable to link effectively with the men behind him the German attack looked unsettled and disjointed, and for all the possession and pressure they were unable to affect the scoreboard until only five minutes before the break. Podolski out on the left was unable to make an impact, and the usually reliable Toni Kroos had clearly left his shooting boots in the dressing room.

When the goal finally came its architect would be Sami Khedira, whose awareness, positioning and distribution had made him the stand-out individual of the half; from Khedira’s incisive pass Müller provided the assist, and Gómez managed to get the ball under control before lashing into the roof of the net.

With the rain now coming down heavily the second half carried on in a similar vein, and things would change only once the disappointing and rather static Lukas Podolski was replaced out on the left by the far more energetic André Schürrle. Suddenly spaces started to open up, and Schürrle was rewarded for his efforts eight minutes from time when he curled a well-struck shot into the top left-hand corner of the Israeli net. Miroslav Klose – on for Gómez – might well had added a third right at the death were it not for a good save from Israeli ‘keeper Ariel Harush.

Conclusions and Ratings

If the game against Switzerland had been all about the failings of the German defence, this match would be all about its misfiring midfield. The introduction of André Schürrle midway through the second half would inject some life into what had been a static left side and things slowly started to come together as the game went on, but with just over a week to go until the Mannschaft’s opening Euro 2012 match against Portugal there is plenty of work to be done.

Perhaps the biggest issue seemed to be the lack of fluency: whether this was down to the late arrival of the contingent from FC Bayern München, we will almost certainly find out next week. The play was often sluggish and fractured, there was little of the free-flowing movement that was evident during the qualification campaign, and too many decent opportunities often went begging.

It was hardly the sparkling send off wanted by the expectant home crowd, but a simple case of getting the basics right and the job done.

Manuel Neuer

With the opposition parking the bus for much of the game there was little for the German ‘keeper to do, but when called up he was more than up to the task. He caught the ball well in tricky conditions and bossed his area as usual, and to cap things off pulled off a world-class save when the score was still 1-0.

Philipp Lahm

Wasn’t really tested defensively, but was his usual effevescent self going forward. Lahm’s sheer presence in the back four simply inspires confidence, and shows just why the skipper is such an important component of this young side.

Per Mertesacker

A much better display than at the weekend, though in truth he was never really tested. The debate over Mertesacker’s fitness and ability will no doubt rumble on, and one could argue that he could very well have cemented his place in the starting line up ahead of Mats Hummels in the easiest way possible. It would have been interesting to see what might have happened had his opponents been willing to take a run at him.

Holger Badstuber

Another solid display, but like Mertesacker was never really challenged by the negative tactics employed by the Israelis. Showed plenty of presence going forward, and was always there and abouts during set piece moves.

Jérôme Boateng

An encouraging display at right-back from Boateng, who took advantage of the opposition’s tactics to play a more attacking role down the right. Almost scored his first international goal when his shot crashed against the post after a neat build-up with Thomas Müller.

Sami Khedira

Another powerful display in front of the back four. Khedira was able to mop things up effectively and offer excellent distribution, and was also threatening going forward. Was involved in the creation of the opening goal and almost scored another himself. Not quite Michael Ballack, but showing signs of getting there. Was replaced by Lars Bender two minutes from the end.

Toni Kroos

Something of an off night from the usually fleet-footed Kroos, whose compass needed some serious readjustment. In what was a subdued display, Kroos’ usually reliable shot appeared to have deserted him completely as many of his efforts ended up closer to the corner flag that the opposition goal. Given his poor form was kept on for far too long, only being replaced by Mario Götze with four minutes of the ninety remaining.

Lukas Podolski

I have no idea what’s up with Poldi at the moment. Just as in the game against the Swiss he never looked his usual self, and when not hugging the left touchline was only able to offer a couple of shots that flew well above or wide of the target. Was replaced by André Schürrle midway through he second half.

Mesut Özil

Not the best performance from the midfield playmaker, who combined well enough with the men out on the wings but was unable to link effectively with Mario Gómez ahead of him. Had one decent shot on goal, and screwed his shot wide when he perhaps should have hit the target.

Thomas Müller

He often resembles a spider that had one too many Weizens, but Thomas Müller continues to add value to this German side. He rarely has a truly great game, but always at some point gets himself involved. Set up the opening goal, and his unpreditable and awkward movement was always a source of danger to the opposition defence. Was replaced by Marco Reus seven minutes from time.

Mario Gómez

I’m not sure whether it’s him or the system employed by the Nationaltrainer, but Gómez continues to look isolated from the creatives in the middle and out on the flanks. Opportunities were few for the FC Bayern striker, but he would take the one real chance he was offered to score a well-taken goal.


Miroslav Klose

Combined slighly better with his teammates than the more isolated Gómez, but was unable to make or find any clear-cut opportunities. Rose well to direct a decent header on target at the death, only to see it well saved by the Israeli goalkeeper. Still looks a yard or so short of full fitness, but was slightly sharper than he had been against the Swiss.

André Schürrle

Make an impact as soon as he came on for Lukas Podolski in the sixty-seventh minute, and immediately set to work on cutting inside and causing trouble for the opposition defenders. Schürrle was able to combine effectively with his team mates and capped off what would be a fine cameo display with a perfectly executed long-distance goal.

Marco Reus

On the pitch for only seven minutes after replacing Thomas Müller, Reus had no real opportunity to make any sort of impact.

Mario Götze

The twenty-year old Götze replaced Toni Kroos with four minutes remaining, though he should perhaps have come on earlier. No real opportunity to make an impact on the match.

Lars Bender

A gentle two-minute runaround for the Leverkusen youngster having replaced Sami Khedira.

My ratings:

Neuer (2), Boateng (3), Badstuber (3), Mertesacker (3), Lahm (2.5), Khedira (2), Kroos (4.5), Müller (3), Özil (3.5), Podolski (4), Gómez (3). Subs (up until 75 minutes only): Klose (3.5), Schürrle (1.5)

Bild’s ratings:

Neuer (2), Boateng (3), Badstuber (3), Mertesacker (3), Lahm (2), Khedira (4), Kroos (4), Müller (4), Özil (4), Podolski (4), Gómez (4). Subs (up until 75 minutes only): Klose (4), Schürrle (2)

Again, the folks at Bild appear to have been watching something else. OK, they give Schürrle a deserved Note 2, but was Khedira really deserving of a 4, the same mark as the seriously disappointing Kroos and Podolski?

Germany v Israel: Match Analysis and Player Ratings
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