In their third Confederations Cup tournament, Joachim Löw’s inexperienced but talented side would go further than any other German squad in the tournament. Beating a brave Mexico 4-1 in Sochi, what was effectively described as a B-team before the tournament had defied all expectations. The semi-finals were a very realistic aim, but the now the team is in with a fantastic chance of leaving Russia with another piece of silverware.
Facts and Stats
This was Germany’s eleventh meeting with the current CONCACAF champions, and their fifth victory to go with five draws and just one friendly defeat – a 2-0 reverse in the Azteca 2000 mini tournament in the summer of 1985. This was the Mannschaft’s fifth straight over El Tri in competitive internationals, including a penalty shootout victory in the World Cup in 1986.
The first tournament meeting between the two teams was in 1978 when Germany registered a resounding 6-0 win, and after the meeting in 1986 would come a second round knockout match at the World Cup in France in 1998, when Mexico took the lead only to be knocked out by two late German strikes. Perhaps the most exciting encounter to date then took place at the Confederations Cup in Leipzig in 2005, when Jürgen Klinsmann’s exciting and revitalised team won a seven-goal thriller after extra time to claim third place.
After the glut of new additions to the all-time goalscorers’ list, there were no new additions in Sochi. Leon Goretza notched a brace to take his international tally to three, which was then matched by Timo Werner. Amin Younes then came on as a late substitute to score his second goal in the Nationaltrikot.
The win would extend Germany’s unbeaten run to fourteen matches.
The Nationaltrainer would make four straight changes to his starting eleven, continuing with the policy of gentle rotation. Out went Niklas Süle, Kerem Demirbay, Marvin Plattenhardt and Emre Can, to be replaced by Jonas Hector, Leon Goretzka, Lars Stindl and Benjamin Henrichs.
Henrichs being given a starting slot meant that only three of the 22-man squad had yet to do so: goalkeeper Kevin Trapp and midfielders Younes and Diego Demme.
The match itself was a breathless affair, starting with a bang and continuing in that way for the entire ninety minutes as both teams served up some fantastic entertainment for the crowd of just under forty thousand in the Fisht Stadium.
Early on, it looked as though we were going to be in for a repeat of Germany’s memorable thrashing of Brazil at the World Cup in 2014, as Goretzka twice sliced through an abject looking Mexican defence to put the Mannschaft two goals up inside the first eight minutes. The Central Americans were simply carved apart, and both of the finishes by the Schalke 04 midfielder were of the highest order.
As things turned out, however, the Germans could be thankful for the two early strikes and the daylight Goretzka had put between the two teams. As the first half went on, Mexico started to dominate the contest, and if you were unaware of the score you would have never known that El Tri were two goals down. Much of the play was inside the German half, but the German defence would keep its shape. There were few problems for Marc-André ter Stegen in the German goal.
The second half, however, saw the Mexicans up the ante. They continued where they had left off at the end of the first half, and started to get some decent shots on target too. Barcelona custodian ter Stegen did his future prospects no harm at all with some excellent saves, and were it not for him the contest could have been a lot tighter.
Germany could very easily have been awarded a penalty on 53 minutes as Werner was clearly put off his stride by error-prone Mexican captain Héctor Moreno, where once again we were all left wondering why the video assistants are actually there. Once could have said the same about the buildup to Germany’s third and ultimately decisive goal just seven minutes later, which saw the Mexicans sliced open again and Werner applying an easy finish.
The Mannschaft were by this time pretty much out of sight, but rather than just fade away their opponents continued to play their part. Juan Carlos Osorio’s men continued to make chances, but were answered in no uncertain terms by the excellent ter Stegen.
When the German ‘keeper was actually beaten, neither he nor anybody else could have had any complaints. From all of thirty-five yards, Marco Fabián let rip with what was arguably the goal of the tournament, sending a stunning free-kick into the German net. It was no more than Mexico deserved, and they continued to pour forward tirelessly in search of the impossible.
A Mexican half-chance at one end was quickly killed off at the other however, as sub Younes provided a clinical finish to restore the Mannschaft’s three goal cushion. It was end to end stuff, with Mexico continuing to look for a second consolation goal before the final whistle blew.
Conclusions and Ratings
On another day, this match could have finished 7-3 to Jogi’s Jungs. There were chances aplenty, and Mexico’s constant pressure and exciting play was ultimately trumped by Germany’s efficiency on the counterattack. Prepared to let their opponents have more of the ball, Löw’s men were clinical with their finishing. Leon Goretzka continued to look the part, and will almost certainly be in the reckoning when all of the big names return from their summer break to international duty at the start of next season.
To go with the positives of the result, there were a few negatives – things that will only get better as these young players get more international exposure at this level. The usual passing game was not as good as it could have been, and having kept things in good check before half-time, the defensive unit was slightly wobbly as the Central Americans cranked things up in the second half.
One big positive however was Marc-André ter Stegen, who finally looks to have edged away from his rivals in securing the number two goalkeeping slot behind resting regular Manuel Neuer. He may not get a game this time next year when he team returns to Russia for the big one, but he will almost certainly have booked his squad ticket.
Marc-André ter Stegen
An excellent display which solidifies his position as Manuel Neuer’s deputy between the sticks. Assured and far more confident with every game, ter Stegen produced a number of excellent saves to keep out a determined Mexican attack. Could do nothing about Fabián’s wonder goal.
Busy, dynamic and always involved. Was unable to add to his goal or assist record, but once again looked at ease in playing on the right side of the three-man defensive unit.
Still needs to work on his positioning and polish up on his passing, but it was a solid showing from the Chelsea-bound central defender. Was a strong presence on what was a busy evening for the German back line, and imposed himself well against smaller but more agile opponents.
A solid display, and perhaps his best showing in the Nationaltrikot so far. Made up for his lack of pace with good positioning, and was on the spot to make some crucial clearances and interceptions. He will surely continue to grow with more tournament exposure.
The first start of the tournament for the Bayer Leverkusen man, who was excellent value. Was solid at the back, and showed plenty of spark and energy offensively. Provided an excellent and well-considered assist to set up the opening goal for Goretzka.
Steady at the back, and was always quick to shut down opposition attacks while providing support for those in front of him. Rudy is pretty much the quiet man of the team, the player who makes the hard yards and mops things up for everybody else. A job done well.
Answered the call when tested at the back, and like everybody else was given a decent workout. Was excellent as usual going forward, and got in on the act in providing the assist for Werner’s goal.
Showed his class with his two early strikes, and provided an energetic presence in the middle of the pitch. In addition to his strength offensively, was also willing to play a defensive role and close things down as Mexico started to threaten. Was replaced by Emre Can after 67 minutes.
A relaxed show for the skipper, who was always confident while looking to create things and shift the balance of play. The problem was that not much came off for him, at least compared to the likes of Goretzka. Made way for Amin Younes ten minutes from the end.
No goals this time for the Gladbach captain, but he was full of energy throughout. Ran himself into the ground, holding play up nicely for his colleagues in attack. Subbed off for Julian Brandt with twelve minutes remaining.
Continues to grow in confidence, and capped off another excellent match with his third international goal. Used his pace to great effect and should also have won a penalty. Showed that he is more than just a finisher with a killer pass to set up Goretzka’s second goal.
Replaced Goretzka after 67 minutes, and settled down after getting a booking almost immediately. Was a robust presence going forward, setting up Amin Younes for the fourth goal.
A twelve-minute cameo for the Leverkusen winger, who slipped straight into gear with a number of dangerous runs. Was involved in the buildup to the fourth goal.
Came on from Draxler with ten minutes remaining, and made the most of it with an excellently executed second international goal in injury time.
ter Stegen (2), Kimmich (3), Rüdiger (2), Ginter (2), Henrichs (3), Rudy (2), Hector (3), Goretzka (1), Draxler (3), Stindl (3), Werner (2)
ter Stegen (1.5), Kimmich (3.5), Rüdiger (3.5), Ginter (3), Henrichs (2.5), Rudy (3.5), Hector (3), Goretzka (1), Draxler (4), Stindl (3.5), Werner (1.5)
ter Stegen (1.5), Kimmich (3), Rüdiger (3), Ginter (2.5), Henrichs (2.5), Rudy (3), Hector (3), Goretzka (1), Draxler (3), Stindl (3), Werner (2)