Germany v Poland: Match Analysis and Player Ratings

Ostensibly billed as a World Cup warmup, what might have been an interesting and testing fixture for the Nationalmannschaft at Hamburg’s Imtech-Arena would be defined by the long list of absentees. With some clubs unable or unwilling to release players for the strangely-scheduled match and the players of both FC Bayern München and Borussia Dortmund preparing for the final of the DFB-Pokal later in the week, it was always going to be a skeleton squad, a B-Team at best.

In fact, Nationaltrainer Joachim Löw would go the distance and name what was effectively a C-Team, including a number of players not on the preliminary list of thirty for Brazil. The match would see no fewer than a dozen players making their international debut – the biggest number of Neulings to ever take to the field in the Nationaltrikot since Germany’s first ever international fixture against Switzerland in April 1908.

Given the look of the side, there would be a number of interesting statistics. The average age of the starting lineup would be less than twenty-two, with the oldest being ‘keeper Ron-Robert Zieler at twenty-five. Among the starters would be two teenagers, Schalke 04’s Leon Goretzka and Max Meyer. At eighteen years and 238 days, Meyer would become the fourth-youngest player to wear the famous white shirt, nudging himself ahead of current team mate Julian Draxler and another modern Schalke 04 legend, Olaf Thon. With his more experienced club captain Benedikt Höwedes starting on the bench, the twenty year old Draxler would become the youngest player in the history of the Nationalmannschaft to wear the captain’s armband.

Sadly, the spectacle would not match all of the pre-match excitement. As a World Cup warm up the ninety minutes of at times pedestrian football would offer more questions than answers, with some of those not even in the World Cup thirty turning out far more solid performances than those on the list. Rather than being a warm up for Brazil 2014, this was more of an interesting look at the future and how things might be come France 2016 or Russia 2018 – but that would be as interesting as things would get. While the build-up and team selection will no doubt be remembered, the match itself would be as damp, stodgy and forgettable as the wet and miserable Hamburg evening.

Facts and Stats

The bulk of the facts and stats would concern the dozen young debutants, but Poland would have fancied their chances of breaking their duck against Germany at the eighteenth attempt. They had come desperately close to securing their first victory over the Mannschaft in Danzig in 2011 – only to be denied by a last-minute Cacau strike – and coach Adam Nawałka would just a slightly more experienced side.

On home soil Germany would come into the game with a record of six wins and two draws, with perhaps their most famous meeting being the so-called Wasserschlacht von Frankfurt in the 1974 World Cup finals.

The Match

Despite the number of young players on show and places on the plane to Brazil at stake, there would be very few highlights in what was a dreary encounter with very few opportunities and football that was more earnest than pretty. The young German side would have the bulk of the possession and keep things under control, but would lack the spark required to break down an obdurate Polish defence. For their part, the Poles would arrive on the pitch in a big red bus that would be happily parked in front of Artur Boruc’s goal.

The best chances would fall for the home side. In the first half VfB Stuttgart right-back Antonio Rüdiger would have a well-directed header cleared off the line, while in second FC Augsburg’s André Hahn – on as a substitute – would be unable to get any real power with the goal at his mercy. With the Poles looking sharper on the break after half-time, the goalless stalemate was probably a fair reflection of the ninety minutes.

Conclusion and Ratings

In trying to work his way down to the final World Cup squad of twenty-three, the coach’s selection would have been thrown into confusion. While a couple of the final thirty would perform well enough – Matthias Ginter and Shkodran Mustafi to name but two – others such as skipper Draxler and striker Kevin Volland would flatter to deceive. Making things even more testing for the coach would be the positive display by some of those not lined for a ticket to Brazil, with defensive midfielder Christoph Kramer and full-back Oliver Sorg standing out from the otherwise pretty ordinary crowd.

Latest Selection News

So much for the final thirty. Following yesterday’s match, four players have been dropped as part of the whittling process: Max Meyer, Leon Goretzka, André Hahn and Marcell Jansen. Meanwhile, one of the “outsiders” who managed to impress, Christoph Kramer, is part of a new squad of twenty-seven who will be moving on to the training camp in the Tyrol.

Jansen’s omission is no great surprise, mainly down to the fact that he really shouldn’t have been pencilled in in the first place. Meyer showed flashes of his talent against Poland but this would not be enough, while Hahn would be ruing not getting enough leather on that late goalscoring chance. As for Goretzka, he will surely have better games in the future.

Ron-Robert Zieler

Was never really tested, but was solid enough when called upon. Was replaced at half-time by Marc-André ter Stegen. WM Watch: as third ‘keeper behind Manuel Neuer and Roman Weidenfeller, Zieler already has his ticket to Brazil.

Antonio Rüdiger

An erratic performance by the Stuttgart man. Showed solidity in man-to-man situations, but his passing was off-key and positioning questionable. On a more positive note, his excellent header cleared off the Polish line in the thirty-third minute would be the closest either side would come to breaking the deadlock. Replaced at half-time by Benedikt Höwedes. WM Watch: one of those players not on the list of thirty, and unlikely to have a chance even as a injury reserve at this point.

Shkodran Mustafi

Never really tested, but a solid enough display over the full ninety minutes by the man making his first professional appearance on German soil after leaving Hamburg as a youth. WM Watch: it’s going to be a close run thing, but Mustafi’s solid performance wouldn’t have done his hopes of sneaking a place in the final squad any harm.

Matthias Ginter

Winning his second cap, the SC Freiburg man would play the entire ninety minutes and deliver a solid and assured performance. Although he was never really tested by a sterile Polish attack, he would do everything right. WM Watch: The coach may ultimately go with experience in picking his final squad, but if he continues in this vein Ginter stands a decent chance of securing his ticket to Brazil.

Oliver Sorg

A decent display by a player not in the final thirty. Untested at the back and adventurous going forward, he should be in the mix looking forward to France 2016. Replaced by club team mate Christian Günter eight minutes from time. WM Watch: not part of the final thirty, but a good prospect.

Sebastian Rudy

Solid if unspectacular display from the Hoffenheim defensive midfielder, who might have a chance if he can find a way of edging in front of the number of other players vying for this position. WM Watch: not part of the final thirty, and will probably find it tough to win a second cap.

Christoph Kramer

One of the unsung successes of the evening. Solid in the tackle and tactically astute in an important defensive midfield role, Kramer would be one of the better players on the night. WM Watch: the one player who would be good enough to lift himself into the reformed squad of twenty-seven. Stands a chance of making the final cut should he maintain this form, but his presence might largely be dictated by the fitness of the likes of Sami Khedira, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Lars Bender.

The winner: Christoph Kramer

Leon Goretzka

Solid without being particularly impressive, was replaced by André Hahn at half-time. WM Watch: one for the future, Goretzka would be one of the first to be cut from the squad ahead of the training camp in the Tyrol.

Max Meyer

Showed the occasional spark, but the little midfielder just tried to do too much too soon. Replaced by Max Arnold after seventy-seven minutes. WM Watch: cut from the squad, the teenager will almost certainly have a role to play in the Nationaltrikot.

Julian Draxler

A disappointing game for the skipper, who had plenty of the ball but failed to do anything with it. Guilty of the occasional bad pass and being too hasty in going for the spectacular finish when a more sensible pass would have sufficed. WM Watch: Should be on the plane to Brazil, but in danger of missing out should he not be able to rediscover his form in time.

Kevin Volland

Showed plenty of energy, but suffered on account of being given little service. A far cry from the bustling forward we have seen plenty of times for Hoffenheim this season. Replaced by Sebastian Jung with twenty minutes remaining. WM Watch: as the only other specialist striker after veteran Miroslav Klose, Volland is probably the most likely one of the new boys to get a ticket to Brazil.

Marc-André ter Stegen

Came on for the second half, and just like Ron-Robert Zieler had little to do. A bizarre introduction given that he was not in the final thirty. WM Watch: will be staying at home for the summer, unless one of the other three ‘keepers suffers an injury before the naming of the final twenty-three.

Benedikt Höwedes

Replaced Antonio Rüdiger at half-time, and introduced additional steel and experience to the back four. Looked dangerous going forward at the end on an evening where he was not really tested. WM Watch: may not make the starting eleven in Brazil, but a definite for the final cut.

André Hahn

Came on for Leon Goretzka at the break, and could very easily have changed the picture both for the team and himself had he not tried too hard to impress. Overhit a cross badly when he should have done better and then was unable to get enough power on a snapshot six minutes from time. WM watch: dropped from the squad before the training camp, the FC Augsburg man will surely be ruing his missed opportunity.

Sebastian Jung

Never had much of a chance during his twenty minutes on the pitch after replacing Kevin Volland. WM Watch: not part of the initial thirty, this was always going to be one for the experience books.

Max Arnold

The VfL Wolfsburg starlet would just see thirteen minutes of action after coming on for Max Meyer, and with the game starting to slow down from its already slow place would have little chance to make an impact. WM Watch: not in the initial thirty, and was never under threat of having to cancel his summer holiday.

Christian Günter

Just eight minutes for the SC Freiburg left-back, and the only shame was that he didn’t have more of an opportunity. Injected more than a little pace in what was a decent eight-minute cameo, and could have also won a late penalty. WM Watch: not enough to move him from the “reserves” list, but we will almost certainly be seeing more of him moving towards France 2016.

Bild Ratings: Zieler (3), Rüdiger (3), Mustafi (5), Ginter (4), Sorg (4), Rudy (4), Kramer (4), Goretzka (4), Meyer (3), Draxler (4), Volland (5). Subs (until 75 mins): ter Stegen (3), Höwedes (3), Hahn (4), Jung (5)

Kicker Ratings: Zieler (3), Rüdiger (4.5), Mustafi (4), Ginter (3), Sorg (4), Rudy (4.5), Kramer (4), Goretzka (5), Meyer (4), Draxler (4.5), Volland (5). Subs (until 75 mins): ter Stegen (3), Höwedes (3.5), Hahn (4), Jung (NR)

My Ratings: Zieler (3), Rüdiger (3), Mustafi (3), Ginter (3), Sorg (3), Rudy (4), Kramer (2.5), Goretzka (5), Meyer (4), Draxler (5), Volland (5). Subs (until 75 mins): ter Stegen (3), Höwedes (3), Hahn (4), Jung (4)

Germany v Poland: Match Analysis and Player Ratings

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