Hoffentlich Die Mannschaft spielt viele mehr Spielen in Brazil weil mehr Deutsch muss ich schreiben! After a full twenty-three hours without watching a World Cup match (it felt strange, believe me), I was able to tune in to the Germay-Ghana game, hoping to see some German delight. But instead, I was treated to one the most enthralling half of soccer the World Cup has offered thus far. As a U.S. supporter first and foremost, this game was agonizing to watch at times, not to mention that Germany would be my obvious team given my familial roots and second language choice. ESPN’s Jon Champion called the scoreless first half a “game for the purists,” but the second half was for everyone.
Before I get to everything else, I have to question Jogi Löw’s decision to bring on the inexperienced Shkodran Mustafi at right back at half for Jerome Boateng. While Philipp Lahm may be his ideal holding midfielder at this point in the German captain’s career, there comes a come when the best right back in the world should be playing right back. I am fine with Boateng on the right, because he is sound defensively and certainly capable of sending in the odd cross. But when Boateng is not on the field, Lahm needs to shift to defense. Germany’s options for holding midfielders off the bench are far better than their secondary options in the back. Mustafi messed up today, allowing Andrew Ayew to get in front of him for a game-tying header. Another mistake could cost the Germans tremendously down the line.
Aside from that, I felt like Germany were a step slow tonight. They were adventurous going forward for much of the match, but remain a few causes for concern. With all the fluid movement up top, they leave their defenders very exposed at times. The backline is more than capable of holding down the fort, but Löw’s tactics put a lot of pressure on his back four. Should there be a giveaway in midfield, like there was on Asomoah Gyan’s goal, there’s not much the defense can do without cover from any wide areas.
The highlight of this game for me was Miroslav Klose’s goal. That it came so soon after his arrival on the pitch provided a further testament to his goalscoring prowess at the World Cup. While the public might be in love with posterboy Mario Götze, Klose is simply ruthless. When Germany needs a goal, he needs to be on the field. Götze should start in my opinion, but don’t forget about Klose. He’s got a little more left.
For me, Mesut Özil had another decent game, but again a keener desire to score himself could have been the difference. Many might be dissatisfied again with his perceived lack of interest, but I feel it’s wrong to judge him for his resting facial expression, though you can fault him for not sprinting back after giving the ball way. Özil made a lot of intelligent runs to get into wonderful spaces, and two or three times you had to wonder if he had a shot in him. Maybe it’s a lost cause to want him to shoot more, but he has a strong shot in him when he decides to let one go. But alas, you know what you’re going to get from Özil these days. He certainly has more to give, but we’re only going to see it if we allow him to be himself. Germany needs him badly, and would be unwise to give up on him right now.
Lastly, Ghana is a heck of a team. In most every group, they would likely be going through. They were woefully unlucky against the U.S., and today they certainly were on par with the Germans. While they will probably be going home, it would be wrong to say they underperformed. Some teams just get unlucky. And no, I don’t mean England.
It sounds like I missed a good one in Argentina and Iran earlier today. But it looks as if we might see a lot more of Lionel Messi.