Having eased to a functional 2-0 win in Belarus, Germany are back on home soil to face group outsiders Estonia in Mainz. While the Nationalmannschaft will be looking for their third win from three to close out the season, their opponents are yet to get off the mark after a brace of defeats at the hands of early pace-setters Northern Ireland.
Having played their 100th European Championship qualifier in Borisov (and their 100th win in all Euro matches including tournament finals), Germany are playing their 150th Euro match in all. Their overall record so far reads at the century of victories, with 28 draws and 21 defeats.
It is a cool Tuesday evening in Mainz, as the teams walk out into a wall of noise ahead of the national anthems. In the second home international to be played at the ground, the first coming in 2014 in what was the Nationalmannschaft’s final warmup match ahead of the World Cup finals in Brazil – a 6-1 demolition of Armenia.
Stand-in coach Marcus Sorg has made a few small tweaks to both the starting eleven and the formation. Lukas Klostermann and Jonathan Tah are on the bench, with Thilo Kehrer and Leon Goretzka coming in. The three-man back line is replaced by a more orthodox Viererkette, with Kehrer slipping into the right-back slot alongside Matthias Ginter, Niklas Süle and Nico Schulz.
Goretzka joins İlkay Gündoğan and Joshua Kimmich in an offensively-minded three-man midfield unit, while the attacking trio of Serge Gnabry, Marco Reus and Leroy Sané remains unchanged.
As in Borisov, there is a minute of silence for the late UEFA president Lennart Johannsson, and you can hear a pin drop as everybody in the ground pays their respects.
1 min. Germany kick off, back in their traditional white/black/white ensemble. The visitors are kitted out in blue shirts, white shorts and blue socks.
2 mins. Sorg’s men are already starting to impose themselves, and are in and around the Estonian penalty area. Kimmich launches an effort from just outside the box, but it is straight at ‘keeper Sergei Lepmets.
4 mins. Gnabry looks to chase the ball in the danger area, but Lepmets gets there first. It looks like Martin Reim’s side are going to pack the defence here.
10 mins. Germany have made it a recent habit of getting good starts, and the trend continues. Gündoğan plays a lovely ball out wide for Kehrer, whose first-time cross is perfectly played into the box. Losing his marker, Reus nonchalantly taps it into the roof of the net. 1-0.
— Germany (@DFB_Team_EN) June 11, 2019
13 mins. A lovely move. The ball is sent into towards the Estonian goal, Sané provides the deftest of touches, and Goretzka forces Lepmets to make the save.
15 mins. This is really nice to watch. Gündoğan floats in another teasing pass for Goretzka, who cannot get enough on his shot on the turn.
17 mins. Gündoğan is bossing it right now. The Manchester City man plays a lovely looped ball into the box for club team mate Sané, who shows some wonderful close control before unselfishly jabbing a low ball across the face of the goal. Gnabry arrives to finish from close range with a Thomas Mülleresque finish. Despite the slightly scrappy ending, it is another lovely team goal. 2-0.
2-0 #GER! Gnabry makes it two and we haven't yet played 17 minutes. Gündogan lifts the ball to his Man City teammate Sane, whose cross is bundled in by Gnabry. It's a case of how many for Germany. #GEREST pic.twitter.com/YE50d3HdDL
— DW Sports (@dw_sports) June 11, 2019
20 mins. There’s no let up now. Kehrer has space on the right, and finds Kimmich to his left. The Bayern man can cross with his right foot, but delays before floating the ball into the box with his left. It’s another teaser, and Goretzka almost floats above two defenders to execute the perfect header. There was a genuine touch of Michael Ballack about that finish. Absolutely no chance for the ‘keeper. 3-0.
— DW Sports (@dw_sports) June 11, 2019
25 mins. Kimmich plays another dink into the box for Goretzka, but the big man is hauled down by Joonas Tamm. A clear and obvious penalty, and the Turkish referee points to the spot before booking the Estonian full-back.
26 mins. Gündoğan steps up and sweeps it home with his right foot, sending Lepmets the wrong way. There is a satisfying clanking sound as the ball hits the back of the net. 4-0.
27 mins. Gnabry finds Sané, whose firm shot is kept out by Lepmets. The resulting corner comes to nothing, but Germany are ready and set to recycle the ball and crank up another attack.
29 mins. A major event. Neuer gets a touch of the ball.
30 mins. Reus fires in a delicious shot from the edge of the box, and Lepmets does brilliantly to turn it onto the crossbar. The ball is still in play, and Estonia are being suffocated here.
32 mins. Goretzka cannot quite get his foot around the ball as he has another effort, but is involved again as another attack develops. There’s a lovely exchange of passes between him and Gnabry, who fires a first time effort over the target.
37 mins. Sané is fouled some twenty yards out. Reus lines up the free-kick, aims, and sends the ball over the wall and into the top right-hand corner. Lepmets can only watch the ball sail past him, his feet anchored to the turf. It was like an arrow. 5-0.
— Die Mannschaft (@DFB_Team) June 11, 2019
39 mins. Time for another touch for Neuer, and the ball is quickly back in the Estonian half.
43 mins. Germany’s pressing game has been outstanding, and Sander Puri is forced into playing a poor pass towards his own byline. Reus chases the ball down and fires it across the box, but it is too far in front of the advancing Sané.
45 mins. Estonia will finally have a shot at the German goal as they win a free kick just outside box. Skipper Konstantin Vassiljev’s effort is well struck and also takes a slight deflection, but Neuer is right behind it. Safely gathered.
45+1 mins. The referee’s watch ticks a couple of seconds into the additional minute before he signals the end of the half.
What a half it has been. If Germany were merely functional against Belarus, tonight they have been frighteningly fluent. They walk in at the break with a five-goal lead, and it could have been even more were it not for Lepmets in the Estonian goal. I don’t think there will be much for Marcus Sorg to say, except to tell his team to give the crowd another 45 minutes of the same.
It looks like there is going to be a change for the Nationalmannschaft at the start of the second half. Marcel Halstenberg looks set to go, and Nico Schulz gets a breather.
46 mins. The visitors get play back underway, and Germany once again set about building up from the back.
47 mins. More crisp passing but Goretzka gives the ball away. Estonia take the opportunity to break with purpose, and striker Sergei Zenjov sends his shot just wide.
50 mins. The ball is still being moved around beautifully. The men in white win a corner, but it comes to nothing.
53 mins. Gündoğan is the next man to head for the dugout, after an outstanding spell. Julian Draxler replaces him.
55 mins. We have gone ten minutes without a goal. Surely number six coming. Kimmich overhits his cross and Lepmets collects.
56 mins. A rare excursion from Estonia, and Zenjov cuts inside before hitting a decent shot on goal. Too easy for Neuer however.
57 mins. Halstenberg sends in a smart cross which Sané looks to chase down, and it looks like the winger is shoved in the box. VAR might have had a good look at that one. The attack continues, and Reus draws an excellent save from the busy Lepmets.
59 mins. A change for Estonia. Matthias Kaït is on for Artjom Dmitrijev. There’s a shout for handball which is waved away. Looked like ball to hand more anything else.
61 mins. Germany win a corner, but Kimmich’s kick is cleared.
62 mins. We have the sixth goal. Reus slices open the Estonian defence and finds Halstenberg, who delivers a lovely cross for Gnabry to finish. There’s the slightest whiff of offside as Gnabry burns in front of his marker, but there is no flag as the Bayern winger celebrates his second of the night. 6-0.
— DW Sports (@dw_sports) June 11, 2019
65 mins. There will be no hat-trick for Marco Reus. The Dortmund man’s number is up, and he jogs off to loud applause from the home crowd. Timo Werner will have a chance now.
68 mins. Sané has the ball in the net for number seven. There’s a lovely ball from Draxler, and Sané chests it down beautifully before beating Lepmets from the tightest of angles. But… The flag is up. That’s a strange one. Sané was well onside, and it doesn’t look as though he handled the ball either. Unlucky.
70 mins. Estonia are cut open yet again, but Werner cannot get on the end of Halstenberg’s cross. That was a tough chance.
71 mins. The visitors make their second change. Zenjov makes way for Henrik Ojamaa.
74 mins. Sané has another shot on target, and Lepmets gets down well to turn it behind. The Estonian ‘keeper has been outstanding, and were it not for him Germany would have hit double figures already.
76 mins. After a succession of short passes, Gnabry bursts into the box and sends a left-footed effort narrowly wide of the far post.
78 mins. Neuer gets another touch of the ball, to loud cheers from the crowd. Lepmets does brilliantly to deny Werner after a lovely setup from Draxler.
79 mins. Having been denied twice, it is third time lucky for Werner. The Leipzig man chases down Draxler’s pass and lifts the ball smartly over Lepmets. 7-0.
81 mins. Not so lucky for Sané however. Having had a decent goal chalked off, he finds the back of the net again only to see the that same offside flag. This time the decision is a little clearer, as Gnabry was in front of Lepmets as the shot came in.
82 mins. The final change from the Estonian coach. Captain Vassiljev makes way for debutant Vladislav Kreida.
87 mins. Draxler creates a shooting opportunity, but his left-footed effort is easy enough for Lepmets.
88 mins. Sané has his goal. Ironically, this one actually looked offside as he collects Draxler’s pass. The Manchester City man bends a left-footed shot around Artur Pikk, and Lepmets is unsighted as the ball flies to his right and crashes into the bottom left-hand corner. 8-0.
8-0 #GER! Sane scores! Justice for him after seeing one wrongly disallowed for offside earlier. Brilliant finish by the way, bending a low shot into the bottom corner. #GEREST pic.twitter.com/JID8SsB6bj
— DW Sports (@dw_sports) June 11, 2019
90+1 mins. Germany win a corner, but needlessly give the ball away. Boo! Hiss!
90+2 mins. The last action sees Kimmich have a pop from the edge of box. The shot is well-struck and directed, but Lepmets does well to dive low to his left and collect. The final whistle blows.
This evening in Mainz could very easily have seen a rampant German squad rack up double figures, and for every minute there was no relenting from the men in white and black. They pressed hard and suffocated their opponents, their passing game was quick and accurate, and the finishing – for so long a massive problem – was right on the mark. Depending on what statistical source you look at it, Germany completed between 998 and 1003 passes in the ninety minutes.
After what was a traumatic start to the season, things have clearly ended on a positive note for the Nationalmannschaft. The opposition may not have been particularly testing in these last two matches of 2018/19, but these are just the sort of teams that Jogi Löw’s men were failing to put away this time last season.
The younger members of the squad are starting to find their place, and things are definitely looking positive for when the qualifying campaign resumes after the summer break – with a big-seller home game against the Netherlands in Hamburg.
v Estonia, Opel Arena, Mainz, 11.06.2019
Reus 10., 37., Gnabry 17., 62., Goretzka 20., Gündoğan pen 26., Werner 79.,
Sané 88. / –
Germany: Neuer (c) – Kehrer, Ginter, Süle, Schulz (46. Halstenberg) – Kimmich, Gündoğan (53. Draxler) – Goretzka – Gnabry, Reus (65. Werner), Sané
Estonia: Lepmets, Teniste, Tamm, Vihmann, Mets, Pikk – Kams, Dmitrijev (59. Kaït), Vassiljev (82. Kreida), Puri – Zenjov (71. Ojamaa)
Referee: Ali Palabıyık (Turkey)
Assistants: Kemal Yılmaz (Turkey), Serkan Olguncan (Turkey)
Fourth Official: Halil Umut Meler (Turkey)
Referee Observer: Darko Čeferin (Slovenia)
Yellow Cards: – / Tamm 25.
Red Cards: – / –
Ball Possession: 77% / 23%
Attempts on Target/Blocked: 19 / 2
Attempts off Target: 8 / 2
Corners: 10 / 0
Fouls Committed: 5 / 5