Four days after the 1-1 draw against Spain in Düsseldorf, Germany take on their second big-name opponent in the form of world number two side Brazil in Berlin. Naturally, the buildup has seen many mentions of the last meeting between the two countries – that result in Belo Horizonte. This evening sees a much-changed German lineup against a Brazilian team packed with big names – the only notable absentee being star man Neymar.
The Mannschaft are a win or a draw away from setting a new unbeaten record of 23 matches, Jogi Löw is sticking to his promise of rotating his squad. The Nationaltrainer makes seven changes to the team that started in Düsseldorf. Kevin Trapp replaces Marc-André ter Stegen in goal, and Antonio Rüdiger and Marvin Plattenhardt come into the defensive foursome in place of Mats Hummels and Jonas Hector.
The two-man defensive unit sees İlkay Gündoğan joining Toni Kroos with Sami Khedira on the bench, while the only man to keep his place in the offensive unit is Julian Draxler. With Mesut Özil and Thomas Müller both rested, there are starts for Leon Goretzka and Leroy Sané. Up front, old stager Mario Gómez starts with Timo Werner and Sandro Wagner on the bench.
With Manuel Neuer injured, Khedira on the bench and Müller already back home in Munich, Jérôme Boateng leads the team out for the first time. It is truly a proud moment for the 29 year old Berliner. Having dreamed of playing Brazil in his home city as a child, he tops that by taking the Kapitänsbinde.
The Olympiastadion is looking magnificent, and both teams are given a warm welcome as they make their way out onto the pitch. The familiar Brazilian anthem, Hino Nacional Brasileiro, is followed by the Deutschlandlied. Every player is singing.
Boateng and his Brazilian counterpart Dani Alves meet in the middle, and a relaxed Swedish referee Jonas Eriksson lays down the law. Germany are again in their new green and white ensemble, while Brazil are in their famous yellow shirts, blue shorts and white socks.
1 min. The home side get things underway.
5 mins. It has been a qute start, with both teams looking to find their feet.
6 mins. Plattenhardt sends a looping ball into the Brazilian box, but ‘keeper Alisson collects.
7 mins. Plattenhardt initiates a quick German break, and Sané makes his way to the edge of the penalty area before he goes down. There are half-hearted shouts for a free-kick, but the referee waves play on.
8 mins. Goretzka is bundled over by (3) out on the right, some thirty yards out. Kroos floats in a dangerous ball that is nodded by Boateng, and Gómez cannot quite get his foot around the ball. Not that it matters: the flag has gone up for offside.
10 mins. A bit of a mess at the back for the Mannschaft. A German throw-in somehow results in Brazilian possession, and Philippe Coutinho weaves his way into the box. There are yellow shrts waiting, but the Liverpool mad hesitates, allowing the men in green to hoof the ball up the pitch.
15 mins. Gabriel Jesus finds Coutinho out on the left, but the Brazilian winger’s cross hit a German player before it is cleared. Brazil are having most of the play here at the moment, and Germany will need to impose themselves.
17 mins. Gündogan sets up a German attack, the the green shirts flood forward. Sané plays a neat one-two with Draxler, who sends in a teasing ball from the left. Gündogan gets there first, but scoop his shot high over the bar. It looks ugly, but the ball seemed to bobble just as the Manchester City man was about to shoot.
18 mins. Plattenhardt’s cross from the almost finds Gómez, but Thiago Silva gets there first to put it behnd for a corner. The corner is cleared, but Germany regain possession and attack again. Gómez and Alisson go for the high ball, and the VfB Stuttgart striker is penalised.
22 mins. Joshua Kimmich looks to find Gómez as he sends in a right-sided cross, but Thiago Silva is there to foil the big man again. The corner comes to nothing.
26 mins. Draxler looks to engineer a move through the middle of the park, and bundled over. The referee waves play on, and Brazil are able to clear their lines.
27 mins. Plattenhardt swings in a dangerous looking cross into the Brazilian box, and Alisson and Thiago Silva get into a bit of a pickle. The ‘keeper should take the ball easily, but the defender gets there first to put it behind for a corner. I hve no idea what happened next. The ball makes its way back to Trapp, who then punts it back up the pitch.
29 mins. Another decent German cross from the right, this time from Goretzka. Gómez looks to get himself into a position to shoot at the edge of the six-yard box, but the ubiquitous Thiago Silva gets there first.
30 mins. Boateng threads a neat pass that slices the line of yellow shirts, but Gómez is narrowly offside as he break towards goal. The finish was weak anyway, and Alisson has the ball.
34 mins. Sané picks up the pace and sprints towards the edge of the Brazilian box, but is guilty of doing way too much. He is well challenged by Miranda, and the visitors clear the danger.
36 mins. Sané and Plattenhardt combine nicely down the left, and . The play switches to the other side of the pitch as Brazil break, and Gabriel Jesus has a good sight of goal. The striker lines up his shot, but fires it high over the target. Lucky, more so as he looked at goos couple of yards offside. How did the linesman miss that?
38 mins. Brazil are in the German half again. Willian makes progress down the right, exchanges passes with Dani Alves, and fizzes in a cross that is brilliantly met by Gabriel Jesus. Darting between Kimmich and Boateng, the striker’s header is straight at Trapp. The ‘keeper cannot quite get his hands in position to execute the parry, and Fernandinho finishes things off with his right hand. German fans are hoping for a free-kick, but the ball had already crossed the line before Fernandinho’s arrival. Jesus has the goal, and Brazil lead. 0-1.
40 mins. A Kimmich cross is met by Gómez, whose header is over the bar. The big striker was in front of the ball as it arrived, and cannot get himself into position quickly enough.
43 mins. Kroos wins another corner for the Mannschaft, but once again there’s nothing to show for it.
45 mins. The whistle blows for half-time.
Germany have been far from brilliant, and have been unable to stamp any sort of authority on the game. There is plenty of quality in the lineup, but that magic spark has been missing. Tite’s Brazil have had the majority of the play and have set the pace, and probably deserve to be in front. The goal was messy and Kevin Trapp could have done slightly better, and the pressure will be on the German coach to make the right adjustments in he second half.
The original plan had been to send third ‘keeper Bernd Leno on for the second half, but the Brazilian goal has altered the script. There is no changes for either side.
46 mins. Brazil kick off.
47 mins. Marcelo sends in a cross from the left, but Plattenhardt calmly chests the ball back to Trapp.
48 mins. Plattenhardt crosses, but cannot find a green shirt. Brazil clear.
49 mins. It is not quite working in the final third for Löw’s men. Sané is looking one dimensional, and Draxler is struggling to get any sort of foothold in the central playmaker role.
50 mins. Boateng closes Gabriel Jesus down and wins the ball, but gets a nasty foot on his achilles in return. The German skipper is helped the touchline, and the home side are temporarily down to ten men.
52 mins. Coutinho has a shot that flies over the crossbar. Boateng is back on.
53 mins. Kroos sends a well-timed long ball for Gómez to chase, but Alisson is there first to punch clear.
55 mins. Two shots on target from Brazil, as they start to crank up the pace. Willian’s shot is well blocked by Rüdiger, before Paulinho’s well-struck effort is brilliantly parried by Trapp. Excellent work by the Chelsea fullback and the PSG ‘keeper to keep their team in the contest.
57 mins. Kimmich is dispossessed in his own half, and after a couple of crisp passes Coutinho lines up a shot that flies over the target.
59 mins. Germany are chasing a new unbeaten record here, but at the moment it looks like the coach’s changes have backfired a little. Löw’s team have offered little up front, and the Brazilians, determined to blunt some of the pain of 2014, are treating this encounter pretty seriously.
61 mins. A double change for Germany. The disappointing Sané makes way for Lars Stindl, while Leon Goretzka, who hasn’t been much better, is replaced by Julian Brandt.
62 mins. Mario Gómez has been a good yard off the pace, and also makes his way off. A disappointing evening for the big striker, who is replaced by the just as big Sandro Wagner.
64 mins. Kimmich floats in a cross towards Wagner, but Thiago Silva gets in front of the FC Bayern striker to put it behind for a corner. Once again, the set piece is nothing to write home about.
67 mins. Dani Alves sends in a teasing cross for Coutinho, but Kimmich is quick to intercept. The corner is taken quickly, and Brazil engineer another attack that sees Gabriel Jesus shoot wide of the far upright.
68 mins. The German skipper has had a decent evening, and it’s time for him to take a breather. Niklas Süle is on.
70 mins. Kimmich crosses, Brazil clear the danger with Wagner lurking in the box.
72 mins. A half chance for Wagner, who cannot get above Miranda to direct his header on target.
73 mins. Proof that Brazil are taking this game seriously is that they haven’t played the usual game of musical chairs off the bench. They make their first change with eighteen minutes left, as Douglas Costa comes on for Coutinho.
77 mins. Germany have a free-kick out on the left, which is swung into the box by Kroos. As if to sum uo their evening, a number of green shirts stray offside. Disappointing.
79 mins. Costa charges down the left at pace, and is foiled by Süle who executes he perfect challenge. Brazil play the corner short and look to recycle the ball.
80 mins. Stindl has a sight of goal just outside the penalty area, but cannot keep his shot down.
81 mins. Another change for the Mannschaft. Gündoğan is off, and Timo Werner is on. Probably the last roll of the dice.
84 mins. Paulinho gets a low shot on target, but Trapp safely collects. At the other end, a teasing cross from Brandt cannot find a green shirt.
85 mins. A Brandt shot is deflected behind for another German corner. This one is a little better as Wagner flicks the ball towards far post, but Werner is unable to get there.
87 mins. Brandt has certainly injected some much-needed spark here, but it is surely a case of too little too late. The Leverkusen winger sends in another cross, but it is too strong for both of the strikers.
90 mins. The touchline assistant signals three additional minutes.
90+2 mins. Germany win a corner out on the right, and it is played short. The ball is worked back to Draxler, who unleashes a stinging right-footed shot that is on target. Alisson is equal to it though, and gets a hand to push it behind for another corner.
90+3 mins. It’s a corner fest in the Brazilian half now, but Draxler is unable to deliver. Brazil punt the ball clear, and the finish whistle is blown.
Germany’s unbeaten run ends at 22 matches, matching that of Jupp Derwall’s side between 1978 and 1981. In fact, Derwall’s side went slightly more than 22 matches, as their match in Frankurt against Hungary was abandoned after an hour due to thick fog.
It was only a friendly, and we can choose to leave it that. On the other hand, this evening’s match was not only an opportunity for Jogi Löw’s side to set a new mark of 23 games unbeaten, but also continue to rub Brazilian noses in the dirt. The crucial factor was that while the Nationaltrainer treated the game like any other friendly, his counterpart Tite did not. The plan was the plan, and Jogi stuck with it.
Nobody can say that the German coach underestimated the Brazilians. Nobody would ever be foolish enough to do that. But in picking what was clearly a weaker lineup and treating the match like a regular friendly, Löw completely misread the intentions of the opposition.
Right from the start, Brazil did not play this game like a normal friendly. They were competitive, and their body language was completely different compared to the Spanish side that lined up in Düsseldorf four days before. The status of the match was of no great consequence to the Brazilian players, who had clearly come to Berlin to plaster over some of the wounds that had been inflicted by the Mannschaft four years earlier in Belo Horizonte.
While Löw continue to experiment and use five of his six available substitutes, Tite only made one change late in the second half. Brazil were not in Berlin for a friendly, and had clearly set out with a plan to grind out a result. This they did.
While Brazil were steely and determined, the German oufit was flaccid and bereft of ideas. There is so much quality in the extended squad, but there was none of the usual assurance in the middle of the pitch. As for the play in he final third, it was nothing short of lamentable. The crowd of over 72,000 had paid good money to see the purring Porsche; instead, they were provided with a spluttering Trabant.
Julian Draxler had had one poor half and one good one against Spain. Here, he had a dismal 90 minutes. If he had managed to score right at the death, the change would only have been a statistical one.
Leroy Sané, for all his excellent form for Manchester City in the Premier League, has never really hit the height in the Nationaltrikot. In past cases, you could give him a pass due to his playing the late sub role. Here, he was given a start. He never even switched into first gear. Leon Goretzka was anonymous, a far cry from the dynamic young player who had impressed us all at the Confed Cup.
Further up front, Mario Gómez always seemed to be a good yard off the pace. But on the other hand it is hard to criticise a striker if he is not given any real service.
Yes, it is only a friendly. Come June, it will be just as important as it is now. If the team goes on to meet Brazil again and switch back into smash and thrash mode when it actually matters, nobody will remember this night in Berlin. Right now however, there are some concerns.
v Brazil, Olympiastadion, Berlin, 27.03.2018
– / Gabriel Jesus 38.
Germany: Trapp – Kimmich, Rüdiger, Boateng (c) (68. Süle), Plattenhardt – Gündoğan (81. Werner), Kroos – Goretzka (61. Brandt), Draxler, Sané (61. Stindl) – Gómez (62. Wagner)
Brazil: Alisson – Dani Alves (c), Thiago Silva, Miranda, Marcelo – Casemiro – Willian, Paulinho, Fernandinho, Coutinho (73. Douglas Costa) – Gabriel Jesus
Referee: Jonas Eriksson (Sweden)
Assistants: Mathias Klasenius (Sweden), Daniel Wärnmark (Sweden)
Fourth Official: Glenn Nyberg (Sweden)
Yellow Cards: – / –
Red Cards: – / –
Ball Possession: 50% / 50%
Attempts on Target: 2 / 5
Attempts off Target: 4 / 4
Corners: 9 / 5
Fouls Committed: 11 / 9