Paraguay. Peinlich.

Usually the first early season friendly fixture sees a German side packed with youngsters, but for what I think is the first time in his tenure as Nationaltrainer Joachim Löw has named a close to full-strength starting eleven – with the only notable absentee from the starting eleven being the still not quite fit Bastian Schweinsteiger.

This is Germany’s second-ever match against Paraguay, with the first meeting with the South Americans coming eleven years ago during the World Cup second phase in Korea in 2002 when a tightly-contested match would be settled in the 88th minute by Oliver Neuville. There are two survivors from that match in Seogwipo, one on each side – Germany’s Miroslav Klose and Paraguay’s Roque Santa Cruz.

It is a dry evening in Kaiserslautern, and both sides line up for the national anthems in their traditional colours. Germany are in their familiar Schwarz und Weiß, and Paraguay in their red and white striped shirts and blue shorts. There’s a minute of silence for a number of German players who passed away this summer, including 1954 winner Ottmar Walter, 1974 winner Heinz “Flocke” Flohe, and Bert Trautmann, the former paratrooper and goalkeeper who made his name in England with Manchester City.

There’s no messing around with finding an Internet stream for me today, with the game being lived on ESPN here in the UK. This means I won’t have to cope with flicking between three windows while constantly killing popups and refreshing my browser. The first game of a new season – hopefully, a World Cup winning season for the Nationalmannschaft.

1 min. Croatian referee Ivan Bebek gets things under way.

4 mins. Klose is clipped and wins a free-kick some twenty-five yards out. Marco Reus’ shot is on target, but is kept out by Paraguay ‘keeper Justo Villar.

5 mins. Manuel Neuer does well to spot and scotch a Paraguay attack on the break.

8 mins. Germany are now starting to exert some pressure on the Paraguayan defence, who in turn are starting to look a little shaky.

9 mins. Klose is sent free down the left, and cuts inside before scuffing a shot straight at Villar.

10 mins. Out of nowhere the South American no-hopers breach a flat German defence as Richard Ortiz sends the perfect pass for José Núñez, who beats a static-looking Mats Hummels for pace before slamming the ball into the roof of the past Neuer. Once again, the German defence is left looking rather pedestrian. 0-1.

11 mins. Sami Khedira plays a beautiful ball for Klose, whose attempted dink over Villar lands on the roof of the net.

13 mins. The fans in Kaiserslautern cannot believe what they are seeing here. A shot comes in which is punched clear by Neuer, but Khedira completely botches his clearance allowing Wilson Pittoni to gracefully find the bottom-left corner of the German net. 0-2. Interesting fact: Germany have conceded two goals in the first half in back-to-back games for the first time since 1964.

16 mins. Thomas Müller makes a good run down the left and finds Mesut Özil, but the German playmaker’s left-footed shot floats wide of the target.

18 mins. Germany are back in it. Reus and Özil combine to find İlkay Gündoğan, whose cute left-footed effort curls via Villar’s hand into the bottom left-hand corner. A great build-up and a lovely strike, but the Paraguayan ‘keeper should really have done better. 1-2.

23 mins. Hummels plays a lovely ball over the top of the Paraguayan defence for Reus, but the BVB man can’t quite control the ball to get a shot on goal.

24 mins. Paraguay win a corner out on the left which is whipped in Littbarski-style by Victor Ayala. Thankfully Gündoğan is marshalling the far post, and he heads clear. That was going in.

26 mins. More German pressure now, and they are finding it easy to get the ball behind the Paraguayan defence. Reus has the goal at his mercy, but his shot is well blocked by Villar.

27 mins. Gündoğan is looking uncomfortable, and is replaced by Lars Bender. According to some reports it was known that the Dortmund defensive midfielder would be starting with a slightly dodgy back.

30 mins. Coach Joachim Löw is scribbling on a notepad, and I can only hope he is drawing up a new defensive strategy.

31 mins. Hummels lifts the ball over the opposition defence, and the hitherto anonymous Thomas Müller beats the offside trap before bringing the ball under control with his right foot and stroking it past Villar with his left. 2-2.

35 mins. Paraguay cannot get the ball out of their own half at the moment, and a third German goal is a distinct possibility.

38 mins. White shirts are tearing down the left flank. Marcel Schmelzer finds club team mate Reus, who waits for Klose to arrive in the centre. The Lazio striker is still left looking for that elusive record-equalling goal as he sends his shot wide.

40 mins. Another attack down the left, and a cross-cum-shot from Reus is collected by Villar.

41 mins. Klose is almost sent free by Özil, but his first touch lets him down and Villar gathers the ball.

44 mins. Reus has a shot blocked, and Khedira sends a shot ballooning over the crossbar.

45+1 mins. Hummels has been playing some masterful balls forward, but defensively he has been completely dreadful. Out of nowhere Paraguay break quickly down the right, the German number five is skinned by veteran Santa Cruz, and the former Bayern München man’s cross is tapped in by Miguel Samudio. 2-3.

45+2 mins. The referee blows for half-time, and his whistle is followed by a chorus of the same from the crowd. There are going to be some harsh words in the German dressing room.

Paraguay make a goalkeeping substitution, replacing the 100-cap Villar with debutant Roberto Junior Fernández, and also replace goalscorer Núñez with Cristian Riveros. For Germany, Per Mertesacker makes way for Jérôme Boateng. Interesting fact No. 2: Roberto Junior Fernández is the son of the Roberto Fernández who played for Paraguay in the 1980s – who like the great Sepp Maier was known as El Gato – “the cat”.

47 mins. Germany are back on the attack. Müller and Klose combine to set up Özil, who curls his shot wide of the near post.

53 mins. The game has gone into rather flat spell and there is a break in play as Samudio goes down under a challenge from Klose. This is the last action for both players, as Samudio makes way for Lorenzo Melgarejo and Klose is replaced by Mario Gómez. There’s still no record-equalling 68th international goal for the Lazio striker, who has looked decidedly off-colour.

58 mins. More neat passing from the Mannschaft, and Müller’s cross is well met by Gómez, whose firm header is equally well parried by Fernández.

62 mins. More changes for both sides. Jorge Rojas and Oscar Romero are on for Riveros and Jonathan Fabbro, and Lukas Podolski replaces Reus for Germany.

64 mins. Fernández shows good commitment to collect Philipp Lahm’s cross with Podolski lurking.

66 mins. Hummels finally makes a decent tackle, and is penalised for his pains. It’s not his night.

70 mins. A Podolski cross is firmly punched clear by the confident Paraguayan ‘keeper. The ball comes back in, but even Özil is now guilty of a poor touch.

72 mins. Germany’s best effort of what has been a dire second half as Boateng blasts a long-range effort over the crossbar.

74 mins. Lahm finds Müller whose angled shot fizzed past the face of the opposition goal.

75 mins. Germany are throwing everything forward, and a Gómez mis-kick is turned back by Khedira to Bender, who chests the ball down before arrowing it into the bottom left-hand corner with a crisp right-footed effort. 3-3.

79 mins. Gómez has the ball in the back of the net, but provider Podolski is flagged for offside.

80 mins. The home side are continuing to press in search of a fourth goal, but just can’t produce the killer ball.

81 mins. Bender is shown the yellow card for a sharp challenge, and Löw makes another couple of changes with André Schürrle coming on for Müller and Marcell Jansen replacing Schmelzer.

85 mins. Joachim Löw’s side are content to pass the ball around, and the game seems to be winding down. Hopefully a final spurt is in the offing.

88 mins. Boateng has a crack with his left foot this time, but it’s the same result as it flies over frame of the goal.

90 mins. Another poor touch from Gómez as the ball is sent into the Paraguayan box for the umpteenth time. There are five minutes of injury time to be added on.

90+2 mins. An Özil corner is well met at the near post by Jansen, whose header is well saved by the impressive Fernández.

90+5 mins. Paraguay have a cheeky pop at goal with Neuer off his line, but the German ‘keeper is alert and able to clear the danger.

90+6 mins. German win a corner and Schürrle finds a little space on the left before blazing the ball into Row Z. It’s a fitting end to what has been an ordinary performance by what was arguably a full-strength German side, as the final whistle is blown.

Apart from a few bright moments, this has been a very ordinary performance by what was on paper a full-strength German side. They would recover well enough from going two goals down, but a sucker punch right on half-time would put them right on the back foot again. Plenty of possession in the second half would result in a deserved equaliser against a typically obdurate Paraguayan side, but there is still plenty of work to be done.

This German side have been touted by many commentators as potential world champions, but perhaps it is now time for a reality check. It is worth noting that Paraguay are currently rock-bottom of the their World Cup qualifying group. In a post match interview Jogi Löw would describe the defensive display as “erratic”… Well, Jogi, the truth is that it has been erratic for a fair while now.

v Paraguay, Fritz-Walter-Stadion, Kaiserslautern, 14.08.2013

3-3 (2-3)
Gündoğan 18., Müller 31., Bender 75. / Núñez 9., Pittoni 13., Samudio 45.+1.

Germany: Neuer – Lahm (c), Mertesacker (46. Boateng), Hummels, Schmelzer (81. Jansen) – Khedira, Gündoğan (27. L. Bender) – T. Müller (81. Schürrle), Özil, Reus (62. Podolski) – Klose (54. Gómez)

Paraguay: Villar (46. Fernández) – Candia, Aguilar, da Silva – Ayala, Pittoni (62. Romero), Ortiz, Samudio (54. Melgarejo) – Fabbro (62. Rojas) – Núñez (46. Riveros), Santa Cruz (c) (82. Sanabria)

Referee: Ivan Bebek (Croatia)
Assistants: Tomislav Petrović, Miro Grgić (Croatia)
Fourth Official: Christian Dingert (Germany)

Yellow Cards: Bender 81. / da Silva 12., Ayala 43., Romero 76.
Red Cards: – / –

Attempts on Target: 12 / 3
Attempts off Target: 7 / 2
Corners: 10 / 3
Fouls Committed: 8 / 9

Attendance: 47,500

Paraguay. Peinlich.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.