Pandemonium and Panic in Porto Alegre

Having safely negotiated what had been dubbed the “Group of Death”, Joachim Löw’s German side now meet Algeria, runners-up behind Belgium in a group that would also include Russia and South Korea. It is a repeat of the infamous meeting between the two sides in Spain 1982, which would see Jupp Derwall’s star-studded lineup to fall to a shock 2-1 defeat to the underrated and unheralded Algerians.

There is no such complacency today, with the North Africans looking to progress after making the knockout stages of the World Cup for the first time in their history.

There are some changes for Germany today, with the coach unable to select centre-back Mats Hummels becasue of flu-related symptoms. In his place comes Sampdoria’s Shkodran Mustafi, who makes his second start for the Nationalmannschaft. The change in personnel sees Mustafi at right-back, with Jérôme Boateng moving inside to his customary position at centre-back alongside Per Mertesacker with Benedikt Höwedes at left-back.

In the defensive midfield Bastian Schweinsteiger retains his place alongside skipper Philipp Lahm and Toni Kroos, while the three-man offensive line sees a return for Mario Götze alongside Mesut Özil and Thomas Müller.

The withdrawal of Hummels leaves no Borussia Dortmund players in the starting eleven, while all of the seven squad members from Bundesliga champions FC Bayern München start for the first time.

At fourteen degrees Celsius it’s a cool afternoon in Porto Alegre, the most southerly of the World Cup venues in Brazil. The Germans are back in their all-white ensemble, while their Algerian opponents are clad in wonderfully lurid shade of highlighter marker green.

1 min. Brazilian referee Sandro Ricci signals the start of the game, and Germany get things under way.

3 mins. Mustafi times his run perfectly to collect Lahm’s slide-rule pass, but is flagged for offside. The replay shows he is well behind the last green shirt, however.

5 mins. Lahm tried to find Müller in the box, but Algerian ‘keeper Raïs M’Bohli collects.

6 mins. Kroos looks to burst down the middle and is tugged back by Mehdi Mostefa. Arguably a yellow card, but the referee keeps his cards in his pocket and just delivers a warning.

7 mins. Mustafi sends in a cross from the right but Raïs collects.

9 mins. A German move down the right breaks down as Mustafi has the ball pinched from him, and Algeria break fast through Islam Slimane. ‘Keeper Manuel Neuer comes charging off his line and executes the perfect tackle to quell the danger.

“Sweeper keeper” Manuel Neuer denies Islam Slimani with a perfectly-timed challenge

10 mins. Slimane slips past Boateng through the centre, but has the ball pinched off him by Mertesacker. Smart defending by the BFG, but the Algerians have started brightly here.

13 mins. Sofiane Feghouli makes progress down the right, but is foiled by Höwedes who steers the ball back to Neuer who clears.

14 mins. Schweinsteiger cracks a left-footed effort from distance, and Raïs makes a meal of things before collecting. The play quickly swings back to the other side, and Feghouli works past Höwedes and gets behind the German defence only to blast over the target from a tight angle with El Arabi Soudani screaming for the ball in the centre.

17 mins. Fauzi Ghoulam works his way down the left and swings in a fantastic cross, and Slimane gets in ahead of Boateng to nod the ball past Neuer. Thankfully, the assistant raises his flag as the Algerian striker is a good yard offside.

18 mins. The German defence are being pulled apart here, and the dangerous Ghoulam beats Mustafi before slipping inside Özil and blasting a shot that swerves across the face of the German goal.

20 mins. Schweinsteiger needlessly gives the ball away, but Algeria fail to capitalise. The passing game from Joachim Löw’s men has been poor, and they are looking distinctly rattled here by an energetic Algerian side.

23 mins. There’s another misplaced pass, this time by Götze. Feghouli can’t do anything with it though and Özil lifts the ball towards Müller who cannot control his header.

24 mins. Özil skips down the left and cuts inside, but lifts the ball towards the far post when he could have taken a shot. Algerian ‘keeper M’Bohli Raïs tips it over for a corner. Kroos’ delivery is into the middle of the penalty area, but Algeria clear.

28 mins. Mertesacker is slow in getting to the ball and the men in green almost fashion another chance, but Sweeper-keeper Neuer charges out to save the day again.

31 mins. The passing continues to be lazy, and Kroos is saved by the referee after receiving a hospital ball from Mertesacker. A sharp break down the right from Özil only serves to set up another fast break from the Algerians, who win a free kick just outside the German box as Götze shoves — in the back. Feghouli’s effort flies over the crossbar.

33 mins. Les Fennecs are clearly outfoxing the German defence here, but this time Soudani is flagged for offside.

35 mins. Out of nowhere Müller has a sight of goal, and gets in front of centre-back Aïssa Mandi before sending a sharp header well wide of the target.

37 mins. Raïs fumbles an Özil effort, but Müller is unable to make anything from the rebound.

39 mins. A sweetly struck drive from Mostefa takes a deflection off Boateng and spins away for a corner. That could have gone anywhere.

40 mins. Neuer has made far too many interceptions, to the point where he is looking like Klaus Augenthaler. Meanwhile at the other end the Mannschaft finally threaten the Algerian goal. Raïs dives well to parry a well-struck effort from Kroos, before denying Götze from point-blank range.

42 mins. Algerian skipper Rafik Halliche is booked for a wild challenge on Schweinsteiger.

43 mins. Finally the Mannschaft put a few passes together, and Kroos finds enough space to take a shot that flies narrowly high and wide of the Algerian goal.

45 mins. The whistle is blown for half-time.

The Germans must be glad to be off the pitch, after one of the most hideous displays in recent memory – apart, perhaps, from final twenty minutes against Sweden in Berlin. The defence has been pulled apart only to be saved by the team’s Libero Manuel Neuer, and the midfield have been unable to string more than half a dozen passes together without making a mistake.

Mesut Özil hasn’t been at the races, Thomas Müller has had no decent service, and Mario Götze has been if anything a complete liability. The next mystery will be unravelled when we see who appears at the start of the second half.

46 mins. There has been a change, with the disappointing Götze making way for André Schürrle. Algeria kick off the second half.

48 mins. Schürrle has an immediate impact, and a nicely-executed one-two with Özil sees the ball take a deflection behind for a corner.

49 mins. The corner is swung in by Kroos and Mustafi gets some good elevation, but his firm header ends up in the hands of Raïs.

50 mins. Neuer almost makes a mess of an Algerian corner, but sends the ball high up the pitch for the alert Schürrle to chase. The German number nine busts a gut in chasing the ball, but is just beaten to it by Ghoulam. Algeria counter quickly, and Lahm and Mertesacker combine to deny both Soudani and Feghouli.

52 mins. It has been a frenetic start to the second half, and Germany are looking far more purposeful.

55 mins. The Mannschaft are showing some better touches now, and Kroos sets things up nicely for Lahm, whose well-struck right-footed shot is turned behind by the impressive Raïs. The corner comes to nothing and is easily cleared by the men in green.

60 mins. Müller finds Schürrle out on the right, but the Chelsea man’s low cross into the box is easily cut out. He then has an shot from distance which flies well over the target.

61 mins. Schürrle is starting to get in behind the Algerian defence now, and with spaces opening up Jogi Löw’s men are finally able to build in the opposition half. For the first time they actually look like they have assumed some sort of control.

65 mins. Things have slowed down just a little, and a slow build up in the midfield ends with a poor touch from Özil, not for the first time this evening.

68 mins. Mustafi challenges for the ball and goes down awkwardly, after a few minutes hobbles off the pitch. It looks his evening has come to and end as Sami Khedira is prepared to make an entrance.

69 mins. Khedira makes his way onto the pitch, and it looks as though Lahm will switch to right-back.

71 mins. Slimane is sent free and gets ahead of Boateng, but once again the alert Neuer is quick off his mark to challenge and head clear.

73 mins. Schürrle finds some space down the left and gets in a shot on goal, but Raïs gets everything behind it and collects safely.

74 mins. A Feghouli snapshot flies to the left of the target with Neuer taken by surprise. Just moments later Slimani gets a his shot target but the German Torhüter collects safely.

75 mins. Yet another half chance for Vahid Halilhodžić’s aide as Slimane charges down the centre before hitting his shot straight at Neuer. Just moments later, the North Africans break again. Soudani gets in a low cross from the left, but Boateng is well positioned to clear.

78 mins. Algeria make their first change, with Yacine Brahimi coming on for Saphir Taïder.

79 mins. Müller makes a typically gangly run down the right gets in behind the Algerian defence, and his sharp cutback is glanced across the face of goal and wide by Schweinsteiger.

80 mins. Germany’s best move of the match as Khedira sends in a lovely right-wing cross for Müller, whose bullet header is brilliantly parried by Raïs. Schürrle gets a snapshot on the rebound, but is blocked by Essaïd Belkalem. If anything, Müller’s header was too perfect, and not what one can call typically Mülleresque. Maybe this is why it went straight at the ‘keeper rather than skidding it at a bizarre angle.

82 mins. Müller shows great skill inside the box and engineers a shooting chance from nothing, but after doing all the hard work slices the ball narrowly wide with the outside of his right foot.

84 mins. Özil finds space down the left but his weak shot is turned behind for a corner.

86 mins. The corner is swung in and Boateng lashes a shot goalbound, which hits a defender’s arm. The free-kick is in a dangerous place, and is the perfect chance to snatch this right at the death. The referee gets out his special marker spray, and there’s a posse of German players standing over the ball.

87 mins. After the elaborate nonsense and discussions, the free-kick ends in comedy as Müller stumbles over and Algeria clear their lines. It looks like a training-ground move, but hardly the sort of thing to be doing with the score at 0-0 with just three minutes left. Müller can see the funny side though.

89 mins. Feghouli is almost put through, but yet again Neuer is alert to the danger and sprints out to clear.

90 mins. The finale is frenetic, and play quickly switches into the Algerian half. Lahm sends in a nicely floated cross towards Schwinsteiger, and although unmarked in the box the German number seven cannot get enough power on his header which is easily collected by Raïs.

90+2 mins. Kroos tries to find Schürrle down the right, but his pass is badly overhit.

90+3 mins. Schürrle whips in a low right-wing cross, and Halliche gets in front of of Lahm is looks poised to strike. Kroos’ corner is easily collected by Raïs.

90+4 mins. The whistle is blown, and we are heading for extra time.

A far more positive half, but Jogi Löw’s men will be ruing a hatful of missed opportunities. Despite their energetic style of play Algeria have continued to be dangerous with no obvious signs of tiredness, and continue to create all sorts of trouble for the German defence. Were it not for the sharp thinking of Manuel Neuer, we could have been looking at a shock already.

91 mins. Miroslav Klose is warming up on the sidelines, and the Mannschaft kick off the extra half an hour.

92 mins. Endlich! A fast break down the left see Müller send in a crisp cross toward Schürrle, who finishes brilliantly from six yards out. The ball is slightly behind him, but Schürrle improvises brilliantly to hook his shot past Raïs with the inside of his left foot. 1-0.

The cure for shredded nerves. André Schürrle breaks the deadlock

95 mins. Khedira nudges the ball inside to Müller, whose shot is on target but straight at a flying green body.

97 mins. The exhausted Halliche is replaced by Madjid Bougherra.

98 mins. Feghouli makes his way down the right and is harried by Boateng, and his cross-cum-shot flies well over the target.

99 mins. Germany are finding more space in the middle, and Özil finds the tireless Müller who sends in a curling right-footed effort that flies narrowly wide of the far post.

101 mins. Algeria win a corner and there’s a sudden panic in the crowded German box as Mostefa sends his snapshot narrowly wide. A real heart-in-mouth moment there.

104 mins. The bustling Khedira collects the ball from Müller and makes his way to the byline, but his cutback is far too sharp for the unmarked Schürrle.

105 mins. The referee signals the end of the first period of extra time.

108 mins. Lahm takes a yellow card for the team as he pulls back Brahimi’s by the shirt, but the free-kick is poor and is hit straight at Neuer who collects.

109 mins. The tiring Schweinsteiger, clearly suffering from cramp, is replaced by Christoph Kramer as Jogi Löw makes his final change of the evening.

112 mins. Algeria look as though they are building up for the final push now. Just over eight minutes remain in what has been a pulsating encounter – for the neutrals.

114 mins. A number of players are struggling now. Müller continues to run after everything, and his charge down the left is well covered by Belkalem.

116 mins. Schürrle makes his way into the box and is perhaps guilty of doing a little too much, and is challenged by Belkalem. The Algerian defender goes down in a heap, and Schürrle sportingly puts the ball out.

117 mins. Raïs is for once caught out of position, and Müller cuts the ball across the face of the Algerian goal. There’s nobody there however, and the men in green clear.

118 mins. Another Algerian counterattack sees Slimani bear down on the German goal, but Boateng does brilliantly to get in of him front and clear.

119 mins. The play switches to the other side, and with the Algerians all over the place Özil sets up Schürrle, whose low side-footed effort is only half-cleared off the line. Özil is there to follow up however, and smashes the ball hard into the top right-hand corner with his left foot from inside the six yard box. 2-0.

A relieved looking Mesut Özil after slamming in what will ultimately prove to be the winning goal in Porto Alegre

120+1 mins. Two minutes of additional time have been signalled, but it’s not over yet. Flinging every man forward, Algeria get themselves on the scoresheet. Feghouli sends in a delicious right-wing cross which flies towards the far post, and substitute Djabou arrives to stab it home on the volley. 2-1.

120+2 mins. The Algerians take their final throw of the dice, and fashion half a chance right at the death. Germany clear the ball up the field, and the final whistle is blown.

A truly breathtaking game, and so typical of what has been an amazing tournament so far. Germany could consider themselves lucky not to be behind at half time after a poor first forty-five minutes, but the introduction of André Schürrle and then the arguably fortuitous introduction of Sami Khedira for the injured Shkodran Mustafi would swing the balance back in their favour.

Schürrle’s determination and pace would add an extra dimension to Germany’s play in the second half with Khedira slotting into his usual midfield boss role, and the only thing between themselves and a win inside the ninety minutes would be Algerian ‘keeper M’Bohli Raïs, who was simply outstanding. At the other end of the pitch, Manuel Neuer was prove to be the ultimate sweeper-keeper – to the point where I have decided to call him “Auge”.

Germany would up the ante in extra time and their two most active participants would combine to open the scoring, and right at the end Mesut Özil would put some welcome gloss on what was a poor performance as the North Africans threw everything forward. Even then there would be more drama.

v Algeria, Estádio Beira-Rio, Porto Alegre (Second Phase) 30.06.2014

2-1 aet (0-0, 0-0)
Schürrle 92., Özil 119. / Djabou 120+1.

Germany: Neuer – Mustafi (70. Khedira), Mertesacker, Boateng, Höwedes – Lahm (c) – Schweinsteiger (109. Kramer), Kroos – Özil, Götze (46. Schürrle) – Müller

Algeria: M’Bohli – Mostefa, Belkalem, Halliche (c) (97. Bougherra) – Mandi, Ghoulam – Lacen – Taider (78. Brahimi), Feghouli, Slimani – Soudani (100. Djabou)

Referee: Sandro Ricci (Brazil)
Assistants: Emerson de Carvalho, Marcelo Van Gasse (Brazil)
Fourth Official: Walter López (Guatemala)
Fifth Official: Leonel Leal (Costa Rica)

Yellow Cards: Lahm 107. / Halliche 42.
Red Cards: – / –

Ball Possession: 70% / 30%
Attempts on Target: 22 / 7
Attempts off Target: 7 / 4
Corners: 10 / 4
Fouls Committed: 11 / 20

Attendance: 42,000

Man of the Match: M’Bohli Raïs (Algeria)

Pandemonium and Panic in Porto Alegre

6 thoughts on “Pandemonium and Panic in Porto Alegre

  • July 1, 2014 at 21:36

    Looks to me that Germany cannot convert chances into goals to save its life. I cannot help but think they will be run over like Bayern vs Real in Champions League. I have fears this might be like Croatia 1998, I think it is played on the same day as that horrible game. Based on Loew’s comments about yesterday’s game, he might have to keep Lahm in midfield. There are rumors Lahm is refusing to play in defense. Maybe a heavy loss will be a silver lining for Germany and they will get rid of this average coach that never really got it right. He even started to copy Guardiola.

    • July 2, 2014 at 00:38

      Hi Ana,

      I mentioned this profligacy in front of goal before the tournament, and I agree it’s pretty worrying. OK, the Algerian ‘keeper was immense, but not so much so as to create a statistic of two goals from 20+ shots on goal.

      Lahm in midfield is going to be a debate that runs and runs, and if it is the player who is making demands then it is not a good thing. He can see how bad they are right now. The alternative is for Löw to ship out the lorries (Merte, Höwedes) if he wants to continue playing this risky defensive high line.

      I have been doing this “on the day” feature on the Facebook page and yes… I did see that July 4th was also the day of that horrid Croatia quarter-final… And the 2006 semi-final against Italy.

      That said, it’s also the 60th anniversary of the Wunder von Bern and twenty-four years after the 1990 semi-final win over England as well. 🙂

  • July 1, 2014 at 16:29

    The only way to solve this issue is to bring Lahm to the defense and GrossKreutz to the other flank, and put Boateng and Hummels in the Middle. The other option is to change the whole strategy(Posession) which I think it is too late for that and would be disastrous at this point In time. This should have been done a long time ago.

    2- Howedes: Here is something I wrote on this blog last year after the France Friendly

    “About Howedes, Howedes often looked uncomfortable going forward when he was put in the right flank using his favourite right foot in previous matches. Yesterday Low put him on the left side, which made him look even more uncomfortable with his unfavourable left foot!!! unbelievable decision for me. He was lost going forward and the France goal was mainly his fault. He could have switched flanks with Lahm, or put another player in(castro, Westermann, jansen)”

    Defensive Midfield: I do not think Simon Rolfes is better than Schweini, Khedira, Gundogan, and even Lars bender. However, he would have definitely added a lot in the current situation. HE is more experienced than Kramer and better than a half fit Scwehini and Khedira. Low wants to focus on youth and look for the future, he has been looking for the future for 8 years. I am starting to get a feeling that the future will never come.

    • July 1, 2014 at 16:36

      I will discuss the defence issue in my next analysis post (I think you’ll enjoy that one). I think Lahm should be in the back four, but assuming that Löw change course it should be Großkreutz – Boateng – Hummels Durm or Boateng – Ginter – Hummels – Durm.

      Agreed about Höwedes (I remember your comments!) and an interesting point about Rolfes. I do think Kramer is good though, and he looked pretty comfortable yesterday.

  • July 1, 2014 at 15:06

    What happened yesterday was exactly what we expected to happen with Low’s procession based strategy.

    1- Defending at a very high line with very slow defenders is recipe for disaster, These guys are not Dany Alves, Jordi Alba, and Pique, they are Mertesacker and co. Even the agile Barca back four are suspect to counter attacks. With Mertesacker standing at the half way line and the next player is Neuer, it was very normal to see the heroics of Neuer yesterday. Against USA, I mentioned that if the US had a better final pass in many of the balls we lost, we would have been in trouble. This is exactly what happened yesterday. Low mentioned that we need to improve because we lost so many balls. We lost 12 balls yesterday, resulting in 12 dangerous counters. I am going to give Low the benefit of the doubt and be very optimistic and say that we will improve by 50%. This means we will lose the ball against France only six times. I can guarantee you from now that Neuer will be picking the ball out of the net at least once from these six counters against a much more lethal French team.

    • July 1, 2014 at 16:31

      Excellent points as always Samer.

      I am working on my analysis right now, and you’ll see lots of these topics discussed at some length. There are two sides to this. We created loads of chances and had 20+ shots on goal but could only score twice. Algeria meanwhile ripped the high-line defence to shreds but never really threatened Neuer.

      On another we could have won this game 8-3.

      I agree that the French will not be so charitable, and you might actually be underestimating them in saying they will hit one from six – well, with Griezmann on the pitch instead of Giroud, who was dreadful against Nigeria.


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