In their first competitive match after the summer’s Euros in France, Germany got their latest World Cup qualifying campaign underway with a comfortable 3-0 win over Norway in Oslo. The Mannschaft were on top and in command from the start, easily to victory with a brace of goals from Thomas Müller and a first international strike for youngster Joshua Kimmich.
Facts and Stats
This was Germany’s fourth competitive match against Norway – including the Olympic Games in 1936 – and their first since 1953. Since then there had been seven friendlies, with six won by the Mannschaft. The win in Oslo was the twenty-first meeting between the two countries; Germany have now won fourteen and the Norwegians two, with five draws.
Germany’s win extends their unbeaten record in World Cup qualifiers away from home. It now sits at 43 matches, with thirty-three victories and ten draws – a record that goes way back to a 9-1 win against Luxembourg in March 1934.
Having been appointed team captain after the retirement of Bastian Schweinsteiger, Manuel Neuer is the first goalkeeper to take the Kapitänsbinde since Oliver Kahn a decade ago. He had already led the team out on thirteen occasions, but this was Neuer’s first occasion as the appointed team captain.
Neuer is the fourth ‘keeper to captain the Nationalmannschaft, after Sepp Meier (1978-89), Toni Schumacher (1986) and Kahn (2001-2004). Interestingly, all four have played for FC Bayern München at some stage in their career. (Schumacher made eight appearances in 1991/92).
At only thirty years old, Neuer will also be looking to overtake Kahn’s record of 45 matches as captain – the highest for a goalkeeper. After that, there is the overall record of 72, held by Lothar Matthäus.
Having played only in friendly internationals prior to this match, youngsters Julian Brandt, Julian Weigl and Max Meyer all took to the field in a competitive match for the first time. It marks a clear transition point between the team that won the World Cup in Brazil in 2014 and the squad that will look to retain the trophy in Russia in 2018.
At the other end of the scale, Mesut Özil’s 81st international cap saw him draw alongside Karl-Heinz Förster and Wolfgang Overath in the all-time appearances list. Thomas Müller, just two caps behind Özil, is now level with Thorsten Frings.
With his two goals against Norway, Müller also entered the top ten of the all-time German goalscorer list. His first in Oslo took took him level with Fritz Walter on 33, and his second put him clear in tenth spot on 34 – just three behind ninth-placed Oliver Bierhoff.
Germany started the match positively, and immediately set about putting their foot down and imposing control on the opposition. During the Euro 2016 qualifying campaign Löw’s men were continually guilty of not converting possession and opportunities into goals, but this time they were quickly into their stride.
Müller’s opening goal after a quarter of an hour gave value to the team’s dominance and allowed the confidence to develop, and when the deserved second goal arrived the result was pretty much in the bag. Kimmich’s first goal for the Mannschaft was a great team effort, and going in at half time two goals ahead pretty much ruled out any likelihood of a shaky second half. (There were quite a few of those during the qualifying campaign for the Euros).
Once Germany were two goals in front the result was never in doubt, but if one was really critical the team should have scored at least one more by the end of the first half. There were a few small defensive wobbles that allowed Norway to almost pinch a goal against the run of play, and had Joshua King done better and levelled the scores things might have been more complicated.
The value of the second goal was clearly seen in the second half, which saw the visitors take complete control. The home side were reduced to spectators as Germany controlled the possession and passed the ball around with ease, and it was when rather than if the third goal would come. Again it was that man Müller, who had clearly put this summer’s travails in France behind him.
Brandt was one of three youngsters to enter the fray off the bench, and the Bayer Leverkusen winger could have netted a couple himself with two decent shots on target. Norwegian goalkeeper Rune Jarstein did brilliantly to block the Brandt’s efforts, two of a number of excellent saves that kept the scoreline respectable.
Conclusions and Ratings
A cool, clinical, and ultimately easy win for the Mannschaft against opponents that offered in the little in the way of a threat. During the Euro 2016 qualifying campaign the team had found it hard to finish such teams off, but this time everything clicked nicely into place. Compared to the opening Euro qualifier against Scotland two years earlier in Dortmund, this potentially tricky encounter went perfectly to plan.
After the opening goal from the revitalised Müller it was just a matter of seeing things through, and Kimmich’s first senior goal in the Nationaltrikot put sufficient daylight between the two teams on the scoreboard. The second half was little more than a exercise in well-managed possession and control, capped off with a third goal that put the final gloss on the performance.
There will be tougher challenges to come, but the trip to Oslo was a potential banana skin that has been nicely skipped over. The team looked fresh and enthusiastic, with a number of the younger players putting in a decent shift.
The next round of matches in October see home fixtures against the Czech Republic and Northern Ireland, both of which eked out a goalless draw in Prague to get their qualifying campaigns underway. The Czechs are always solid opposition and the Northern Irish will be looking to build on their decent showing at the Euros, but the Nationaltrainer will surely be looking at collecting all of the points on offer.
With matches against whipping boys San Marino and Azerbaijan to see out 2016, the target surely has to be the full fifteen points before the turn of the year.
A very quiet evening for the Germany number one. Didn’t have to make a save of note all evening, but got the chance to show off a bit with a nifty piece of footwork right under the nose of an opponent. After that, he was able to take out his blanket and have a nice quiet snooze.
The FC Bayern München youngster continues to impress, and turned out another polished performance at right-back. Was rarely threatened, and was busy and creative going forward. Capped off his display with a finely-taken first international goal.
Had a bit of a shaky start and an early mistake could well have resulted in a goal for the home team, but settled down well after that. Looked solid in the second half as Norway were shut down completely.
Starting in the middle of the defensive quartet in place of the injured Jérôme Boateng, the Schalke 04 skipper had a solid evening. He didn’t have to work hard to shut out the Norwegian attack, but showed good positional awareness to deal with the threats that came his way.
Quiet going forward and was less effective than Kimmich, but did his job well at left-back. Was never really threatened by the opposition, but did what he had to do with a quiet efficiency. Looks to have locked down the previously troublesome left-back position.
The master string-puller at his best. Was quieter than usual going forward and only had one decent shot at goal, but together with Khedira completely bossed the midfield. Kroos was always one killer pass away from creating a chance, and the Norwegians adopted a strategy of letting him do what he liked. Which he did.
A typically faultless performance from the defensive midfield linchpin, solid an reliable as always while offering an ever-present attacking threat. Helped to nullify any opposition threat in the middle of the pitch, and delivered the pin-point cross that resulted in Müller’s second goal and Germany’s third. Replaced by Julian Weigl with six minutes left.
After a forgettable Euros, der Raumdeuter was back to his dangerous best. A typical Müller finish to open the scoring, a powerful second half header to complete a fine brace, and between that a sublime defence-cutting pass to set up Kimmich for his first international goal. Germany’s man of the match by a country mile.
Özil was his usual enigmatic self, disappearing for short spells only to reappear with a moment of magic. Provided plenty of great touches to keep the Norwegian defence on full alert, and was involved in the buildup that resulted in the Mannschaft’s opening goal.
Started well out on the left and showed plenty of his class early on, but didn’t really get into the game. Was largely anonymous during the second half. Replaced by Max Meyer with five minutes left to play.
The Borussia Dortmund returnee was decent enough in fits and starts, but guilty of overcooking opportunities when he had them. Götze is clearly one of the Jogi Löw’s favourites and the coach desperately wants to make the false nine experiment work, but once again there the result was flat and disappointing. Faded in the second half, and was eventually replaced by Julian Brandt with just over a quarter of an hour remaining.
Won his first international cap after two previous friendly appearances, replacing the disappointing Götze after 73 minutes. Was a bright addition to the attack, and offered plenty of pace and movement. Had two good shots on target only to be denied by ‘keeper Jarstein.
Came on for Khedira with six minutes left to win his first competitive international cap.
Like Weigl, came on with five minutes remaining to win his first competitive internal cap, replacing former Schalke 04 team mate Draxler.
Neuer (3), Kimmich (2), Hummels (4), Höwedes (3), Hector (3), Kroos (2), Khedira (3), Müller (1), Özil (2), Draxler (4), Götze (4)
Neuer (3), Kimmich (2), Hummels (3.5), Höwedes (2.5), Hector (3), Kroos (3), Khedira (3), Müller (1), Özil (2), Draxler (3), Götze (3.5)
Neuer (3), Kimmich (2), Hummels (4), Höwedes (3), Hector (3), Kroos (3), Khedira (3), Müller (1), Özil (2.5), Draxler (4), Götze (4). Substitutes (until 75 minutes): Brandt (2)