Exactly a year to the day after their last meeting to kick off the qualifying campaign in Oslo, Germany and Norway meet for match number eight at the Mercedes-Benz-Arena in Stuttgart. An eighth straight win, coupled with any dropped points for Northern Ireland against the Czech Republic, will guarantee the Mannschaft’s place at next summer’s finals with two games to spare.
There are just three changes to the eleven that started against the Czechs in Prague four days earlier, and all are pretty much expected. Matthias Ginter makes way for the more reliable Antonio Rüdiger in the back four, the busy but ultimately unproductive Lars Stindl is replaced by FC Bayern new boy Sebastian Rudy, and one Julian makes way for another with Draxler replacing Brandt.
It is a damp evening in Stuttgart, but there is a sell-out crowd. A large display meets the players, and the band strikes up for the national anthems. The home side are in their usual white/black/white ensemble, while the Norwegians are in red shirts, white shorts and dark blue socks.
1 min. A single peep from referee Gediminas Mažeika’s whistle, and the visitors open proceedings.
2 mins. The home side are quickly into their stride. There first incisive move of the evening sees Müller and Joshua Kimmich combine nicely down the right. Müller sends a decent looking cross into the opposition box, but Timo Werner is unable to decent strike on goal.
4 mins. Mesut Özil puts Werner in behind the Norwegian defence, but there is no support for the Leipzig striker as he looks to play the ball inside. Özil is in space again moments later out on the left, and his cross for Müller is overhit.
5 mins. Kimmich sends a speculative ball into the Norwegian penalty area, but ‘keeper Rune Jarstein collects.
8 mins. Toni Kroos is bundled over by Joshua King, and the Mannschaft win a free kick some thirty-five yards from goal. The ball is kept on the ground and Jonas Hector has a chance to cross, but there’s a Norwegian foot in the way. The visitors clear their lines.
10 mins. The movement is fluid and the passing crisp. Kroos finds Hector out on the left, and the 1. FC Köln left-back plays a smart cutback inside to Özil. From around twelve yards out, the Arsenal man bends a lovely left-footed shot into the top left-hand corner of the net. We’re rolling. 1-0.
Mesut Özil swivels and shoots after just ten minutes, and Germany take the lead
11 mins. A great chance to make it two. The Norwegian defence is sliced open again, and Özil finds Kroos in space just outside the penalty area. The Real Madrid man has plenty of time to settle himself, but fires his shot high over the crossbar.
13 mins. The men in white are on the attack again. This time it is Müller, who sends a low shot that skids past the past to Jarstein’s left. Ole Kristian Selnæs makes a late challenge on Rudy, and is the first man in the referee’s notebook.
14 mins. A smart header from Rüdiger over the lines red shirts finds Werner in space, but he is left with too much of the tight angle for his shot on goal which fizzes across the face of the Norwegian goal.
16 mins. For the first time, the visitors are able to get a little time on the ball. Nothing comes of it though, and Germany look to build another attack.
17 mins. Now that was a thing of beauty. Tight on the right touchline, Kimmich sends a lofted ball into the opposition box, which is nodded back by Werner. Özil chests the ball down beautifully before tapping inside for Draxler, who spins neatly into position before unleashing a curling left-footed shot that flies into the left hand side of the net. There’s no chance for Jarstein. 2-0.
Julian Draxler doubles the Mannschaft’s advantage, with a stunning piece of skill and left-footed finish
21 mins. A careless pass from Jørgen Skjelvik is seized upon by Kroos, and we are looking good for the third goal here. The ball is played inside for Müller, who smartly flicks the ball on for Werner who is lurking with deadly intent. All the striker has to do is stroke it home into the middle of the goal with his left foot. 3-0.
Timo Werner calmly hits goal number three, after an excellent flicked assist from Thomas Müller
24 mins. The Norwegians go for a simple straight down the middle approach, and Jo Inge Berget is able to take a shot. It is well struck, but well over the target.
26 mins. A chance for the Mannschaft to make it four, but Werner cannot enough power behind his shot which goes wide.
28 mins. This time Werner turns provider for Müller, but the skipper is foiled as the defender makes the block.
29 mins. Kroos looks for Kimmich out wide, and the FC Bayern right-back’s first time cross is collected by Jarstein.
33 mins. Kroos is really running the show today. Yet another long ball forward is excellent collected by Hector, whose cross inside finds Özil. The Arsenal man is able to get a shot in from the tightest of angles, but the ball ends up in the arms of a grateful Jarstein.
35 mins. Time for another Norwegian foray forward. King wins a corner, and Marc-André ter Stegen is able to warm his gloves a little with an easy catch.
38 mins. Germany win a free-kick out on the right, and Kroos’s effort is cleared. The ball is recycled quickly, but Draxler’s cross from the right is too strong and high for the advancing Mats Hummels. Norway and their coach Lars Lagerbäck can breathe again.
40 mins. Norway have the ball in the German half, but in a flash, it makes it way to the other end. Werner initiates the final thrust before making his way into the box, leaving Kroos and Özil to pick out Müller on the right. The captain sends in a cross that bends wickedly into the penalty area, and Werner leaps brilliantly to direct a firm header to Jarstein’s right. I am running out of superlatives here. 4-0.
Werner rises above the Norwegian defence to head home goal number four, meeting Müller’s pinpoint cross
45 mins. The visitors are all over the place again, and they are being completely cut to ribbons. Kroos lines up a shot and sends it towards to target, but Jarstein guesses right to five to his right and make an excellent save. Moments later, Müller gets a shot on goal, but his effort is well blocked by Berget. The Norwegian threw everything and his own personal kitchen sink to get in the way of that.
45+1 mins. The whistle blows for half time, bring a fantastic forty-five minutes of football to an end. More in the second half, please… We can score ten here!
Well, what a half.
That awful game in Prague was one hell of a wake up call. #GERNOR
— Rick Joshua (@fussballchef) September 4, 2017
There has been a change for both sides as the teams come out for the second half. Thomas Müller is given a breather and is replaced by Leon Goretzka, while the Norwegian coach replaces Sander Berge with Gustav Valsvik.
46 mins. The home side gets things back underway.
47 mins. The Mannschaft are back in the rhythm again. More excellent close passing gives Kroos a change for a shot, which is blocked. From the rebound, the left-footed Hector lifts a shot over the target with his not so dangerous right boot.
49 mins. It looks like Jogi Löw’s men are deciding who is going to have the next shot at goal. After a bit of to and fro in the Norwegian penalty area, Kimmich wins a corner out on the right.
50 mins. Kroos and Özil take the corner short, and create space for Draxler who turns his marker inside out. The cross is on a plate, and finished with aplomb by Goretzka with what is first touch of the game. The perfect cross, the perfect header. 5-0.
Leon Goretzka celebrates after heading home Germany’s fifth, five minutes into the second half
52 mins. Here’s the next wave. The ball is shifted across the width of the pitch, and Hector’s cross is well met by Özil, whose shot is blocked by another desperate flying Norwegian body.
53 mins. Rudy has a shot from distance, but it flies wide.
54 mins. A pretty decent effort from the Norwegians. Selnæs gets a sight of goal, but sends his shot narrowly wide.
56 mins. There are too many shots on goal and blocks to count here. This time Werner is foiled by a man in a red shirt.
57 mins. A cross from King is sliced behind by Hummels, and Norway win a corner.
58 mins. It looks like Norway are trying to avoid going down by more here. There’s a defensive change from Lagerbäck, as Jonas Svensson comes on for Mohamed Elyounoussi.
60 mins. There’s a great reception for Sami Khedira, who makes his way on to the ground where he became a fan favourite. Rudy is the man who makes way.
61 mins. With his first touch, Khedira creates a chance for Werner as he hooks the ball back into the box from the byline. The striker is caught by surprise though, and cannot get a foot to the ball. It would have been a tap in for his hat-trick.
63 mins. Centre-back Rüdiger is in the box and looks to get a shot in, but cannot get enough power behind it.
66 mins. Time for another ex-Stuttgarter to enter the fray. Werner’s time is up after a fantastic brace, and Mario Gómez is on for what he hopes will be a productive final twenty-five minutes.
68 mins. Hector has a shot, which flies wide. One more for the ledger.
70 mins. Kimmich looks to cross into the box, but the ball is blocked.
71 mins. Another block, this time to foil Draxler.
73 mins. There’s a bit of a lull in proceedings, and the Norwegians are managing to get some time in the German half. There hasn’t been much for ter Stegen to do, but he gets into the action by making punching the ball clear.
75 mins. The final change of the night for Norway. Selnæs is replaced by Martin Linnes.
79 mins. The passing is precise and patient, and everybody is getting involved. Rüdiger picks out Khedira just outside the penalty area, and the Juventus man smartly finds Kimmich on the right. The right-back sends in a teasing cross, and Gómez flies in to execute the perfect diving header from just outside the six-yard box. 6-0.
Mario Gómez rounds off the scoring with a spectacular diving header, his 31st goal for the Mannschaft
80 mins. That was a lovely goal, which sums up this German team perfectly. A patient buildup, a killer ball into the box, and a fantastic finish. It is Gómez’ thirty-first goal for the Mannschaft, taking him into joint thirteenth place on the all-time list alongside Ernst Lehner, a member of the famous Breslau-Elf.
83 mins. Linnes is booked for a too-late and too-firm challenge on Kroos.
86 mins. Draxler has a shot from distance. It is on target and awkward for Jarstein, who does well to collect.
89 mins. Gómez shows some great skill and combines nicely with Özil down the left, and the ball is worked back inside. Khedira looks to pick out the advancing Kimmich, but his pass is a little too string.
90 mins. There will be two minutes of additional time.
90+2 mins. The best moment for Norway, right at the end of the piece. King worms away from the byline and dances past Rüdiger, before unleashing a shot that hits the post. That is the final act. The whistle blows, and the job is done.
Six unanswered goals, and a world class performance from the world champions. Clearly shaken by the criticism after their ordinary display in Prague, Jogi Löw’s men were quick to get into their stride right from the get-go. Unlike four days earlier, they maintained the pressure and got things absolutely right. They were relentless for the entire ninety minutes, and it could easily have finished in double figures.
The record is now eight wins from eight, but the job is not done yet. Well, not mathematically at least. Northern Ireland’s 2-0 win over the Czech Republic keeps thing open until at least match day day nine, which sees the Mannschaft make what should be an interesting visit to Belfast in October. The objective will be a win, but just a point against Norn Iron will be enough to secure top spot.
v Norway, Mercedes-Benz-Arena, Stuttgart, 04.09.2017
Özil 10., Draxler 17., Werner 21., 40., Goretzka 50., Gómez 79. / –
Germany: ter Stegen – Kimmich, Rüdiger, Hummels, Hector – Rudy (61. Khedira), Kroos – Müller (c) (46. Goretzka), Özil, Draxler – Werner (66. Gómez)
Norway: Jarstein – Elabdellaoui (c), Nordtveit, Skjelvik, Aleesami – Elyounoussi (58. Svensson), Berge (46. Valsvik), Selnæs (75. Linnes), Møller Dæhli – King, Berget
Referee: Gediminas Mažeika (Lithuania)
Assistants: Vytautas Šimkus (Lithuania), Vytenis Kazlauskas (Lithuania)
Fourth Official: Manfredas Lukjancukas (Lithuania)
Referee Observer: Costas Kapitanis (Cyprus)
Yellow Cards: – / Selnæs, Linnes
Red Cards: – / –
Ball Possession: 68% / 32%
Attempts on Target/Blocked: 18 / 3
Attempts off Target: 10 / 4
Corners: 4 / 4
Fouls Committed: 4 / 8