Having had their homecoming party balloons popped by Argentina earlier in the week Joachim Löw’s side would entertain a hard-working and spirited Scotland team in their opening Euro 2016 qualifying match – and what had been billed by many as an almost guaranteed three points would turn into a struggle that would leave many German fans relieved rather than ecstatic. With a number of key players missing the restructured defence would again look shaky, but overall the team would do enough to get off to a winning start of yet another two-season cycle.
Just six of the players who featured in the World Cup final would line up in front of just over sixty-thousand people in Dortmund, with Mario Götze replacing Mario Gómez and Jérôme Boateng returning to the back four in place of Matthias Ginter. Elsewhere, TSG 1899 Hoffenheim’s Sebastian Rudy would come in at right-back for Kevin Großkreutz.
Coming into the game on a six-match unbeaten spell under new coach Gordon Strachan Scotland would be high on confidence, and would be accompanied by their travelling fans who would certainly make their presence felt – accompanied by the ubiquitous bagpipes.
Facts and Stats
Germany would themselves come into the game with a record of six wins, five draws and four defeats against the Scots – though in competitive matches the record would be a much healthier five wins and two draws from seven games played. One would have to go back to the Euro 2004 qualifying round to find the last meeting between the two teams – also in Dortmund three days short of eleven years before. On that day Rudi Völler’s German side would do just about enough to register a 2-1 win, with first-half goals from Fredi Bobic and Michael Ballack giving the Nationalmannschaft a two-goal cushion ahead of Neil McCann’s strike for the Scots on the hour mark.
Unbeaten in any qualifying match since a 3-0 dead-rubber defeat in Munich to the Czech Republic in October 2007 – a total of thirty-two matches – Jogi Löw’s side would also be looking to extend their record competitive internationals to eighteen, with this record stretching back to their 2-1 semi-final defeat against old rivals Italy at Euro 2012.
Germany would dominate the statistics with far more possession, a corner count of 12:1, and more chances on goal. However these statistics would be contradicted by their profligacy in front of goal, a solid defensive performance from their opponents and the constant threat of their weakened and inexperienced defence being caught on the break.
A professional display would see the home side go into the break with a deserved one-goal lead, with their Scottish opponents managing just the one dangerous attack on goal. Thomas Müller’s twenty-third international goal would put the world champions in front, though he should have found the net inside the first ten minutes. Guilty at times of over-elaboration in the final third, Germany could very easily have put the game to bed by half time. Scottish fans however could have pointed at the decision by the Norwegian referee not to penalise Benedikt Höwedes for a grab on Steven Naismith, which would very easily have resulted in a red card for the FC Schalke 04 skipper.
The Mannschaft’s narrow lead at the break would give their opponents heart, and a more determined Scotland side would emerge for the second half. Their willingness to concede possession in the first half would give way to a bolder approach, and after knocking on the door they would finally punch a hole in the German back line. Once again, laziness up front would create the opportunity, with Götze’s misdirected pass being converted into a fast attack on the break with the finish perfectly executed by the excellent Ikechi Anya.
Letting their opponents back into the game would simply serve as the catalyst for the Mannschaft to up another gear, however. Within four minutes the Scottish defence would go into complete meltdown, and as they failed to clear their lines Müller would be on the spot to smash home what would ultimately be the winner. Strachan’s side would again be made to feel hard done by as a foul just outside the box by Erik Durm on the dangerous Naismith was deemed worthy of just a yellow card, but Müller would be just the width of the post away from settling the issue right at the death.
Scotland’s Charlie Mulgrew would receive two yellow cards in the space of three minutes in injury time, but this wouldn’t affect the result.
Conclusion and Ratings
For all their possession and excellent play, the lapses in concentration would almost cost Jogi Löw’s side. The goal was a poor one to give away, and at times the defence would not know how to deal with the runs of Anya and Naismith. The back four is clearly missing the recently retired Philipp Lahm and the injured Mats Hummels, and against a potentially more dangerous Poland side spearheaded by FC Bayern’s Robert Lewandowski the presence of the Borussia Dortmund centre-back has become more important than ever.
The performance in the midfield would be something of a pick and mix, with some excellent moments punctuated by what still looks like a sluggish hangover from the World Cup. Thomas Müller would be he usual self as he took his international goalscoring tally to twenty-four in fifty-eight outings, but those around him would look out of sorts. Then just to make matters worse, World Cup absentee Marco Reus would once again leave the pitch injured – continuing his seemingly endless run of bad luck in the Nationaltrikot.
In the end, it was would be a case of just about enough. With three points in the bag the coach can now look forward to next month’s meeting with Poland – who would get their own campaign off to a good start with an emphatic 7-0 thrashing of group whipping boys Gibraltar in Faro. Scotland would have their moments, but against the dangerous Lewandowski – who would find the back of the net four times against the hapless Gibraltarians – the new-look Viererkette will have their work cut out.
Didn’t have a save to make, and his only real action was a vintage sweeper-keeper moment in the second half. Could do nothing to prevent Anya’s excellently-taken equaliser. After the game, Anya would tweet how thrilled he was to have beaten the German Torhüter.
Lastly I SCORED PAST MANUEL NEUER!!!! WOWWWW I CAN'T EVEN DO THAT ON FIFA#Godisgreat
— Ikechi (@IkechiAnya) September 8, 2014
Filling in at right-back, Rudy started well but was really put under pressure in the second half as Ikechi Anya in particular started to hunt him down. However given that he is a natural defensive midfielder Rudy gets a pass in what was his first competitive international. On the plus side, the man from TSG 1899 Hoffenheim would set up the opening goal with a beautifully weighted cross.
Not the best game for the FC Bayern centre-back, who was outfoxed on more than one occasion. However his presence was enough to bring back some of the defensive stability that had been missing in the game against Argentina.
Was generally solid rather than spectacular, but his decision to call for offside rather than chase down Anya would play a part in the Scottish equaliser. However he would make up for this just minutes later, causing enough disruption in the opposition box for Müller to score the winner. Could very easily have been dismissed for a silly challenge on Steven Naismith after just twenty minutes.
Having been slaughtered by Ángel di María against Argentina, the Borussia Dortmund left-back would make the most of his reprieve with a more dynamic if not necessarily fault-free performance. Was dangerous going forward, but some of the defensive frailties still remain. Was lucky to escape with a yellow card after a clumsy tackle on Naismith in the second half.
With his busy and energetic play Kramer has settled well into the defensive midfield role, but still has to clean up his game a little. Was guilty of the occasional poor pass and was not as efficient as usual in one-on-ones.
A better performance than against Argentina, but more solid rather than spectacular. Was precise and prolific with his passing game, but apart from that didn’t offer much going forward. Had a couple of pot-shots that never really threatened David Marshall in the Scottish goal.
Müller just keeps on going, enhancing his reputation as the scourge of defenders everywhere. It may not have been the most sparkling performance overall from Der Raumdeuter, but he was there at the right time to do the job. Missed a sitter early on and was unlucky to hit the woodwork right at the end, but his two goals were pretty typical: the first a header reminiscent of Uwe Seeler, the second thrashed home from close range.
A solid return to the competitive stage for the Borussia Dortmund man, but one that would once again be ended prematurely. A hard challenge from Charlie Mulgrew would force Reus off the field in injury time, and the following day it would be revealed that he would have to spend another four weeks out of the game with an ankle injury. Replaced by Matthias Ginter.
Energetic as usual, but overall a poor game for the Chelsea winger. Kept shooting when a patient pass would have sufficed, and was only really successful in finding the stands. Replaced by Lukas Podolski with seven minutes remaining.
A strange game for the World Cup final goalscorer. Looked slick at times and linked together well with those around him, but was often guilty of doing too much when the simpler option was open to him. Produced the poor pass that would lead to Scotland’s equaliser, and was guilty of showboating at the end when the match was still very much at stake.
Replaced André Schürrle with seven minutes remaining, and while he did get involved there would be little time for the Arsenal man to make any serious impact. Could have ended up on the scoreboard had Mario Götze been a little less selfish.
A bonus cap for the Dortmund defender after coming on for Marco Reus in injury time.
Neuer (3), Rudy (5), Boateng (4), Höwedes (4), Durm (3), Kramer (4), Kroos (3), Müller (2), Reus (3), Schürrle (4), Götze (5).
Neuer (3), Rudy (3), Boateng (4.5), Höwedes (4), Durm (3), Kramer (3), Kroos (3), Müller (2), Reus (4), Schürrle (4), Götze (4.5).
Neuer (3), Rudy (3), Boateng (4), Höwedes (4), Durm (3), Kramer (3), Kroos (3), Müller (2), Reus (3), Schürrle (5), Götze (5).