It’s a cool and dry evening in Stockholm’s new Friends Arena, located in the district of Solna. With both sides already through to the next year’s World Cup finals, this game is all about results and records. While the Swedes will be looking to finish off the group with a home win, the Nationalmannschaft would be looking at maintaining their amazing record in World Cup qualifiers on the road, where they have never been beaten.
I meanwhile am watching the match at the Augustiner Restaurant in the the middle of München, over a hearty meal and a couple of glasses of Münch’ner Hell. In a welcome change to sitting on the sofa with the laptop, the plan is to relax and enjoy the match with Caroline, my friend Wolfgang and his father – and save all the writing for later. This, I hope, will explain why this school report has appeared so late and has been backdated.
In front of a crowd of just under fifty thousand the two sides are lead out by Scottish referee William Collum, with the home side in the familiar yellow shirts and blue shorts and Germany in their famous Schwarz und Weiß ensemble. Having been pegged back to 4-4 after taking a 4-0 lead in Berlin, Joachim Löw’s side will be looking for a better defensive performance this time around.
1 min. The referee gets things underway, and the visitors kick off. Within thirty seconds Tobias Hysén is almost put through, but Manuel Neuer collects.
4 mins. A German attack is ended as Marcell Jansen is flagged offside.
6 mins. Bastian Schweinsteiger has a shot from distance, but his effort slides well wide of the target. Almost immediately, Sweden take the lead. ‘Keeper Johan Wiland thumps the ball upfield where it is nodded forward to skipper Sebastian Larsson, whose well-timed pass finds Hysén inside the German box. Having got ahead of the German defence the IFK Göteborg midfielder tucks the ball under Neuer with his left foot, sending it into the bottom right-hand corner of the net. 0-1.
10 mins. The visitors are showing a little more ambition having gone behind, but are unable to fashion any clear opportunities.
12 mins. Germany win a free-lick out on the left, and Mesut Özil’s floating ball finds Thomas Müller at the far post. The Bayern man almost steals in for the equaliser, but his looping header hits the the crossbar.
16 mins. Joachim Löw’s side have clearly recovered their composure, and appear to have settled down into their steady passing game. A long ball from Jérôme Boateng is cleared to safety by the yellow-shirted defence.
18 mins. The Mannschaft win a corner out on the right, but Özil’s curling effort into the Swedish box is easily cleared.
21 mins. Max Kruse is fouled by 1. FC Nürnberg’s Per Nilsson some thirty yards out, but Toni Kroos’ floated free-kick is dealt with by the Swedish defence.
22 mins. There’s a little more pressure from Germany now with most of the play taking place in the Swedish half.
24 mins. André Schürrle works some magic down the left and weaves his way past Swedish right-back Pierre Bengtsson, but his low cross his collected by Wiland with Müller lurking dangerously.
26 mins. Dressed in a smart velvetine jacket and maroon scarf, Jogi Löw gets up to offer a few helpful instructions. There’s no sign of obvious frustration on the coach’s face quite yet.
29 mins. Müller is hacked down by Martin Olsson, who receives the yellow card.
30 mins. Philipp Lahm’s cross from the right is collected by Özil, but the German playmaker is unable to get the ball under control. Bengtsson clears.
32 mins. Schürrle is clearly fouled just inside the area by Kim Källström, but makes such a meal of the challenge that he ends up being penalised for a dive. It could so easily have been a penalty for Germany, but instead the Chelsea winger finds his way into the Scottish referee’s notebook.
34 mins. Schürrle is starting to find more space down the left, and is looking increasingly dangerous.
36 mins. Another long ball in towards the Swedish penalty area, but Schürrle is flagged offside. Since their goal the hosts have offered little, but at the other end Löw’s side have been unable to really threaten Wiland in the Swedish goal.
39 mins. More crisp passing from the men in white and black, but the final ball once again fails to threaten the opposition defence. Schweinsteiger sends another shot well wide of the target.
42 mins. Having down nothing since their opener, Sweden again produce a killer ball that catches the German defence completely flat-footed. Källström’s perfectly-weighted pass beats the offside trap, finding Alexander Kačaniklić who evades the challenge of Mats Hummels before slotting the ball low into the bottom corner of the net past the diving Neuer. 0-2.
43 mins. The home crowd are in good voice, and all of a sudden it looks like Germany’s proud unbeaten away record in World Cup qualifiers is under serious threat.
45 mins. Kroos picks out Kruse on the left, and the Borussia Mönchengladbach man’s cross takes a helpful deflection off a Swedish boot before reaching Özil who is lurking just inside the penalty area. With an almost casual sweep of his right foot, Özil sends the ball low into the bottom left-hand corner of the net from fifteen yards, giving Wiland no chance. The Mannschaft are back in the contest, and Löw remains stone-faced in the dugout. 1-2.
45+1 mins. There are just a few seconds of additional time, and the referee signals the end of what has been an interesting first forty-five minutes.
Sweden have had just two shots on target and have two goals, while after having been caught cold for the second time Germany have reacted brilliantly with a well-taken response just before the break. The Mannschaft have clearly been the more threatening of the two sides, and there are clearly more goals in this contest.
46 mins. The German coach makes his first change for the start of the second half, with Mario Götze coming on for FC Bayern team mate Thomas Müller. The home side restart.
49 mins. Things have picked up from the first half, with the visitors bossing possession while offering little threat to Wiland in the Swedish goal.
51 mins. Schürrle has a curling effort that he gets on target, but the ball is easily collected by Wiland.
53 mins. A Swedish move breaks down, and Schürrle shows great pace and skill down the left before finding Kruse inside to his right. Kruse picks out Özil inside the box, and the Arsenal man outwits two opponents before toe-poking the ball inside to Götze, who sends a delicious curling shot into the top right-corner of the net from sixteen yards. Wiland has no chance, and it’s all square. 2-2.
57 mins. Just like that, Germany are in front. Nilsson’s attempt to play the ball to a colleague falls shot, and his error is quickly seized upon by the darting Schürrle, who sprints towards goal with the hapless Nilsson in pursuit. The defender goes to ground in making a desperate attempt to challenge, and Schürrle has enough time to steady himself before stroking the ball with clinical precision into the bottom right-hand corner of the net with his right foot. 3-2.
58 mins. Sweden make their first change, with record cap-holder Anders Svensson coming on for the disappointing Rasmus Elm – the man who scored the dramatic equaliser in Berlin.
62 mins. Germany are confidently moving the ball around now. What a difference a couple of well-taken goal makes.
64 mins. A loose ball from Schweinsteiger sees Ola Toivonen move with purpose towards the German goal, but the PSV Eindhoven man is hacked down by Hummels. Sweden win a free-kick, Hummels earns himself a yellow card.
66 mins. The Swedish defence have plenty of chances to clear their lines, but instead engage in some dangerous and clumsy passing some thirty yards in front of their own goal. Kruse dispossesses a disorientated Mikael Antonsson and picks out Götze, and the little midfielder rolls the ball forward into the Swedish box for the advancing Schürrle, who slips the ball past Wiland into the bottom right-hand corner with the outside of his right boot. 4-2.
67 mins. Swedish coach Erik Hamrén serves up his trademark Cheshire Cat grin. Perhaps he knows something we all don’t.
69 mins. Sweden win a free-kick out on the left, which is swung into the German penalty area by Larsson. Hysén sprints forward, beating the German offside trap and lashing the ball past Neuer on the volley. The ball is in the back of the net, Neuer is apoplectic, and Hamrén’s grin widens a little. 4-3.
70 mins. The two games between these two teams have now produced a staggering fifteen goals, and there is still time for more.
72 mins. Hamrén makes his second change, as Jimmy Durmaz comes on for Kačaniklić.
73 mins. Sweden win a free-kick well outside the German penalty area, and Antonsson’s well-struck and slightly skidding effort is gratefully collected by Neuer.
75 mins. The Nationaltrainer is clearly looking to close the game down and avoid a repeat of the debacle in Berlin, sending Benedikt Höwedes on for Kruse. The Schalke captain slips in a right back, while skipper Lahm moves up into a defensive midfield role.
76 mins. An attempted Swedish punt forward is intercepted in the centre circle by Hummels, and Kroos and Götze exchange passes as the ball smoothly works its way back deep into the Swedish half. Kroos rolls the ball out wide to find Schürrle in space just outside the penalty area, and the Chelsea winger takes a neat step inside before bending the ball into the top right-hand corner of the net with that perfect combination of power and finesse. Wiland is left helpless, Schürrle completes a superb hat-trick, and the match is surely all over now. 5-3.
79 mins. Höwedes is booked for a clumsy challenge on Olsson.
82 mins. Jogi Löw makes his final personnel change of the evening, as Schalke 04 youngster Julian Draxler comes on for Özil.
83 mins. Hysén has an effort on target, but Neuer collects.
84 mins. Sweden make their final change, with Pontus Wernbloom replacing Toivonen.
88 mins. Having provided yet another goal-goal classic, both teams looked have decided that that’s enough entertainment for the night. The ball is being played around, and both sides are clearly looking forward to the final whistle and making arrangements for their time in Brazil next summer.
90 mins. The final whistle is blown.
Having gone two goals down, Joachim Löw’s side would up the ante in the second half to extend their long unbeaten record in World Cup qualifiers. With their ninth win of another highly successful campaign, the Mannschaft finish top of the table with twenty-eight points, eight clear of the Swedes in second place.
The man of the match is clearly André Schürrle, who having been edged to the fringe of squad selection has worked his way back up the pecking order with a breathtaking display. With Lukas Podolski still injured, the revitalised Chelsea winger must fancy his chances of making the final cut next summer.
Doubts still remain about the team’s defensive frailties, but if every matches finishes like this next year in Brazil nobody will be complaining.
v Sweden, Friends Arena, Solna, Stockholm, 15.10.2013
Özil 45., Götze 53., Schürrle 57., 66., 76 / Hysén 6., 69., Kačaniklić 42.
Germany: Neuer – Lahm (c), Boateng, Hummels, Jansen – Schweinsteiger, Kroos – Müller (46. Götze), Özil (82. Draxler), Schürrle – Kruse (75. Höwedes)
Sweden: Wiland – Bengtsson, Nilsson, Antonsson, M. Olsson – Elm (58. A. Svensson), Källström – Larsson (c), Kačaniklić (73. Durmaz) – Toivonen (84. Wernbloom), Hysén
Referee: William Collum (Scotland)
Assistants: William Conquer, Martin Cryans (Scotland)
Fourth Official: Robert Madden (Scotland)
Yellow Cards: Schürrle 32., Hummels 64., Höwedes 79. / Olsson 29.
Red Cards: – / –
Attempts on Target: 5 / 3
Attempts off Target: 3 / 1
Corners: 5 / 0
Fouls Committed: 3 / 5