At the third time of asking after group stage elimination in 1999 and a third place finish at home in 2005, Germany would add to their list of international titles with a first FIFA Confederations Cup victory in Russia. Having left most of his regular squad at home for the summer, Joachim Löw’s experimental and inexperienced young side would surpass all pre-tournament expectations, claiming the crown with a number of performances that provided style, energy and application in equal measure.
In what was an interesting first phase group, they were drawn against 2005 opponents and Asian champions Australia, Copa América winners Chile, and the winners of the 2017 African Nations Cup, Cameroon.
The three group games were played in Sochi and Kazan, and the Mannschaft would open the tournament with a 3-2 win over an Australian side that should have been a lot easier than it was. Joachim Löw’s were by far the superior side and should have put the match to bed long before half-time, but their failure to add to Lars Stindl’s opening goal would be their undoing. The Socceroos would come back into the game against the run of play courtesy of a mistake by goalkeeper Bernd Leno, and although skipper Julian Draxler and Leon Goretzka would put their team team 3-1 in front, there were a few nerves left at the end when the Aussies made the most of another defensive error and closed the deficit.
The second match against the Chileans was a much tougher affair, and this time it was the Germans who were on the back foot after conceding an early goal – again the result of a defensive gaffe. An equaliser from Stindl just before half-time would get them back into the contest, and after that it would be a pretty even battle as the points were shared.
The final group match against Cameroon was a far easier affair, with Kerem Demirbay opening the scoring with a long-distance blockbuster and Timo Werner wrapping things up with a excellent brace. There was no real threat from the Africans who netted a late consolation, but perhaps the biggest talking point was about the video refereeing technology, and the farce surrounding the dismissal of Cameroon defender Ernest Mabouka.
Having topped their group with seven points, the Mannschaft would stay in Sochi to take on Group A runners-up Mexico in what was perhaps the most action-packed match of the campaign. Two goals in the first eight minutes from Goretzka would propel Germany in front, but the Mexicans were more than good value as they dominated much of the possession and created the majority of the chances. The Germans were the far more efficient outfit though, and were swift on the break and clinical in front of goal. A third goal from Werner effectively settle the issue, and although the Mexicans did score a stunning goal to reduce the deficit, an injury-time strike from Amin Younes rounded things off nicely.
As so it finished with another match-up with Chile in St. Petersburg, a high-quality contest that saw a brave La Roja defeated by a German team that was able to channel some of the graft and grit of the past. In a contest where they were put under enormous pressure from their opponents, the clinical punishment of a dreadful defensive error would separate the two sides.
From nowhere, Werner set up Stindl to be the match-winning hero with twenty minutes on the clock. There were chances to double the lead, but the pressure, furious pressure, was all Chilean. But in the end, it was the Mannschaft that emerged triumphant.
In claiming their eighth international tournament victory, Germany also moved back to number one in the FIFA world rankings. Once again, German football was back at the top of the pile.
v Australia First Phase Group B, Sochi, 19.06.2017 Summary »
v Chile First Phase Group B, Kazan, 22.06.2017 Summary »
v Cameroon First Phase Group B, Sochi, 25.06.2017 Summary »
v Mexico Semi-Final, Sochi, 29.06.2017 Summary »
v Chile Confederations Cup Final, St. Petersburg, 02.07.2017 Summary »