It’s a pleasant afternoon in a packed Borussia-Park, and the crowd are in good voice as the two teams make their way out of the tunnel. In the absence of skipper Philipp Lahm and Miroslav Klose, Per Mertesacker takes the captain’s armband. The Nationalmannschaft are playing in their change kit of black and red hoops with black shorts, while their opponents are in a striking rendition of their traditional green shirts with red shorts.
With no Lahm or Manuel Neuer there is a different look to the team, with ‘keeper Roman Weidenfeller winning his second cap and Borussia Dortmund left-back Erik Durm making his international debut. Jérôme Boateng starts at right back with skipper Mertesacker and Mats Hummels in the middle, and there’s a new look to the defensive midfield with a new Doppelsechs of Sami Khedira and Toni Kroos.
A more familiar trio of Thomas Müller, Mesut Özil and and Marco Reus make up the offensive midfield, and in an interesting move from the coach neither Klose nor Kevin Volland start, with Mario Götze occupying the striker’s position in what looks suspiciously like a “False Nine” formation.
1 min. The home side get things under way, and within a minute have a great chance to open their account. Boateng beats the Cameroon offside trap and Özil has the goal at his mercy, but sends his shot disappointingly wide.
4 mins. A great start for the home side, and there’s another near miss as Mertesacker’s well-time header skims the top of the crossbar from Reus’ corner.
9 mins. After a shaky start Volker Finke’s side are starting to get into the game, and Cameroon striker Samuel Eto’o gets his first sight of the target before sending his shot wide.
11 mins. Germany go close again. Müller plays a lovely flick with the outside of his right boot to find FC Bayern team mate Götze, whose well-struck shot is turned by Charles-Hubert Itandje onto the post.
13 mins. There’s a little bit of silliness involving Stephane Mbia and Kroos, and both players are given a stern talking to by the Slovenian referee.
14 mins. Müller is flagged for offside after collecting Hummels’ pass. It’s a very close decision.
15 mins. It’s another tight offside call as Reus is now flagged.
16 mins. Reus finds Özil in space just outside the Cameroon box, but the number eight is unable to collect cleanly.
18 mins. There has been plenty of pressure from Jogi Löw’s side and a couple of decent opportunities, but so far have nothing to show for it. Meanwhile Eto’o gets a shot on goal after Khedira fails to clear his lines, but Weidenfeller gets everything behind it and collects.
20 mins. Kroos is hacked down again, this time by Eyong Enoh. It’s a case of Enoh already as the referee finally takes out his yellow card.
21 mins. Khedira is strongly challenged by Alexandre Song as the men in green continue to play in their familiar roughhouse style.
26 mins. The visitors are putting a few passes together now in the middle of the park, and there are a few loose passes from the Mannschaft here.
27 mins. Song takes out Khedira with another hefty challenge, and the yellow card is brandished by Mr. Skomina. Cameroon are looking well on course to keep up their red card record against the Mannschaft.
30 mins. After the encouragingly fast start and plenty of possession, there’s nothing on the scoreboard and it won’t be long until the home crowd start to get a little irritated. There’s no real urgency going forward, and far too many sloppy and misplaced passes.
34 mins. There’s some action the Cameroon box, but the ball fails to fall for anyone and Cameroon clear. Moments later Reus has a decent shot on target, but Itandje gets his body behind it.
35 mins. Two corners in the space of a minute, and Khedira is just about unable to get his head on the end of a teasing left-wing cross from Reus.
38 mins. There’s another sharp shot on target by Cameroon and a shout for handball against Khedira, but the referee waves play on. Moments later Eto’o leaves Hummels looking like a statue before playing a great pass for Benjamin Moukandjo, but Durm and Weidenfeller combine effectively to keep their German sheet clean. That could very easily have been 1-0 to the visitors.
41 mins. Cameroon seem to have switched into a different gear now, and are looking increasingly confident and dangerous. Boateng is shown the yellow card for a foul on former German youth international Eric-Maxim Choupo-Moting.
45 mins. Durm sends a half-decent cross into the Cameroon penalty area but the men in green clear effectively. The half-time whistle blows, and there are a few jeers from the crowd.
A bright start for the home side, but overall the display has been sluggish and woefully short of ideas against a game but slightly undisciplined opposition. After fluffing an excellent early chance Mesut Özil has looked increasingly absent, and both Marco Reus and Thomas Müller have not been their usual selves. Both Toni Kroos and Sami Khedira have seen plenty of action in the middle of the field, while despite hitting the post Mario Götze has looked less than convincing up front.
46 mins. There’s a change for the Indomitable Lions with Landry N’Geumo coming on for Mbia, and the visitors kick off the second half.
47 mins. Götze is flagged offside.
49 mins. Özil initiates a swift move through the middle and out to the right, finding Götze who works the ball back inside to Reus. It’s a half-chance, and the Dortmund winger slices his shot wide.
53 mins. Müller sends a dangerous looking cross into the Cameroon box, but there’s nobody there to meet it. Would Klose have made his way there, perhaps? The record-equalling goalscorer is currently watching intently from the bench.
57 mins. There’s plenty of possession here from Jogi Löw’s side, but the crowd are getting increasingly frustrated. Löw responds by sending on André Schürrle for the disappointing Götze, and Cameroon make a second change with Benoit Assou-Ekotto coming on for Henri Bedimo.
62 mins. Cameroon bustle down the middle of the park, and Eto’o forces Weidenfeller into an excellent save, but the men in green pick up the attack. The German defence are looking dazed and confused as the ball pings around the area, and it’s the inevitable Eto’o who gets on the end of it. It’s Cameroon’s first-ever goal against Germany. 0-1.
64 mins. The crowd are on the team’s back now, and Cameroon are continuing to look dangerous. Löw reacts to the goal by sending Lukas Podolski on for Özil, after his shot in the opening minute has been poor.
66 mins. Shaken from their torpor, Germany are back level. A great move down the right sees Boateng send in a lovely floated cross, and Thomas Müller is on the end of it to head home. 1-1.
71 mins. Germany break fast down the left, and the flag stays down as Podolski charges towards the byline to pick up Müller’s pass. The Cameroon defence is caught completely flat-footed, and the Arsenal winger sends in a low cross into middle of the penalty area for fellow sub Schürrle to finish from close range. 2-1.
73 mins. Khedira makes way for Christoph Kramer, who wins a second international cap on his home ground. Naturally, he gets a warm round of applause from the crowd.
76 mins. The exit of Götze and Özil and Müller moving into the middle has made all the difference. Creative overkill replaced by straightforward simplicity.
78 mins. Out of nowhere, the impressive Choupo-Moting finds space down the left and drills a low shot through Boateng’s legs and into the far corner. Poor defending once again from the Germans, and Weidenfeller has no chance. 2-2.
83 mins. Finke makes another change for Cameroon as Allan-Roméo Nyom comes on for Cédric Djeugoue.
84 mins. Benedikt Höwedes comes on for Durm. It has been a solid if unspectacular display from the Dortmund left-back, but nobody could have asked for more for a man making his international debut just a day before the naming of the final squad. With his maturity and control there could very well be a place on the plane for the Dortmund left-back.
88 mins. The game looks to be meandering to a close now, but there could yet be a final twist in the tale.
90 mins. Cameroon look to finish on a high, and Enoh sends a well-hit effort over the bar. There’s another change for the visitors as the excellent Eto’o is replaced by Pierre Webo.
There’s just three minutes of additional time, and the final whistle is blown. An exciting match for the neutrals, but a match that will continue to see the questions fired at Nationaltrainer Jogi Löw. The Mannschaft would do well to come back from a goal down, but in the end yet another poor moment in defence would allow the visitors to grab a share of the spoils.
It’s going to be a very interesting twenty-four hours ahead of the final squad selection. In fact, less than twenty-four hours. It seems that there are more questions and no answers, and I think we might see a few last-moment surprises.
The match analysis will follow tomorrow, along with the news on the final squad. Watch this space.
v Cameroon, Borussia-Park, Mönchengladbach 01.06.2014
Müller 66., Schürrle 71. / Eto’o 62., Choupo-Moting 78.
Germany: Weidenfeller – Boateng, Mertesacker (c), Hummels, Durm* (85. Höwedes) – Khedira (73. Kramer), Kroos – Müller, Özil (64. Podolski), Reus – Götze (58. Schürrle)
Cameroon: Itandje – Djeugoue (83. Nyom), Nkoulou, Matip, Bedimo (58. Assou-Ekotto) – Mbia (46. N’Guemo), Enoh – Song – Moukandjo, Choupo-Moting – Eto’o (c) (90.+2. Webo)
Referee: Damir Skomina (Slovenia)
Assistants: Matej Žunić, Bojan Ul (Slovenia)
Yellow Cards: Boateng / Song, Enoh
Red Cards: – / –
Attempts on Target: 4 / 8
Attempts off Target: 6 / 2
Corners: 5 / 3
Fouls Committed: 14 / 14
* Full international debut