“Football is a simple game. Twenty-two men chase a ball for 90 minutes and at the end, Germany always win”.
Former England striker Gary Lineker said this more than twenty years ago. Even today, the phrase does not lose its touch. Germany went to the Confederations Cup with their B team, but they haven’t lost strength. No, this doesn’t happen with the Mannschaft force.
It does not matter which team you put out in the match. The B, the C or the D. It does not matter which players wear that shirt; it infuses the same respect. The Die Mannschaft speaks for itself. Löw is using Russia as a testing ground, but that does not mean that Germany isn’t competing. They are always playing to win.
The German team is already in the finals of the Confederations Cup. And as first of its group; it could not be otherwise. They won against Cameroon and, taking advantage of Chile’s draw, avoided Portugal in the next stage. Mexico were their rival instead. So how did the Germans get past their training dummies?
First of all, Cameroon
Cameroon put up a good battle. The Cameroonians, who almost needed a miracle to not be eliminated, came out with a fighting spirit. And Germany crushed down their dreams. In the first half of the game, Emre Can and Kimmich almost scored the go-ahead goal. Cameroon also had a chance to score before the break. And Ter Stegen showed that reflexes are not lost in summer if you are a goalkeeper by profession.
Against Cameroon, the Germans had problems thanks to the African champions’ great physical power. Kerem Demirbay (48′) scored first after a great play by Julian Draxler, with a powerful shot from outside the area. But that was just the beginning.
Technology is helping again
The second half was something else. Germany went directly to the neck of their rival.
The goal unleashed the best German minutes. Ondoa stopped what he could and more. He was the reason Cameroon stayed in the game for as long as they did.
The controversial VAR technology helped Ernest Mabouka to be sent off after a hard foul. So, with a numerical advantage, Germany made a second goal that gave them peace of mind. A header from Timo Werner (67 ‘) sealed the qualification of the Germans.
The match was ready for its end. Or so it seemed. Aboubakar shortened distances with the complicity of Ter Stegen, who apparently had butter in his gloves. But there was no time to think about that episode. Henrich broke the defense and Werner, again, put the definitive 3-1 that confirmed, if anyone doubted it, that the Confederations Cup is not going to dent Germany’s reputation .
Then, Germany played against Mexico
Mexico looked for the impossible. Although El Tri had the ball for long stretches and hit it more, they simply were not clinical with their possession. They dominated, recollected, made Ter Stegen sweat. But after all, they went home with four goals in their backpacks.
With the echo of the hymns still booming, Germany was already celebrating, and Mexico had taken two hits. They did not see where the German counterattacks came from. Leon Goretzka was in beast mode, and punished a sleeping Mexico with 2 quick goals.
The Schalke midfielder started the counterattack by passing the ball to Heinrich, who gave it back to him, after which he hit it softly to beat Ochoa. He claimed his second two minutes later when Werner found him in the area. Two goals conceded in the opening eight minutes.
And torture for Mexico that Osorio and his pupils suffered. Of course, they did not just lie down on the grass and at least attempted a fight-back. Héctor Herrera and Jonathan dos Santos grabbed the ball and tried to make something happen. But every German counterattack looked threatening enough to produce a goal. So fresh, so young and so full of talent, Germany exploded in the counterattack game. That was their script. Draxler was in his sauce, launching the rockets for the German aviation. Mexico were looking for a comeback like the one achieved against Portugal, New Zealand and Russia. It did not arrive.
Mexico suffered from their lack of players
Without Guardado, Salcedo, Diego Reyes, or Vela, the Mexican team lined up as if they wanted to lose. They played and played, but slow and without penetration. Germany was waiting for its moment. The Mexican game gave minimal results, making Ter Stegen look awkward sometimes. Barcelona’s goalkeeper deflected a shot by Giovani Dos Santos with his leg and Chicharito failed to score a clear goal in the area. Mexico did not give up.
Werner extinguished the fire. He warned twice: Goretzka put forth a heel, Stindl found him in the running and despite the push of Moreno, he shot and the ball was deflected by the legs of Ochoa. He did not give in at his second attempt. Draxler leaked a ball inside the Mexican defense which Hector then gave to Werner, who duly took the game beyond Mexico and made it 3-0. It was a work of art.
Osorio’s team had one last chance. Ter Stegen stopped a shot by Layún and a header made by Rafa Márquez. However, Marco Fabián’s screamer could not be saved by the Barca goalie. At least somewhat of a consolation for all of Mexico’s troubles. A consolation that was short-lived, as Younes quickly made it 4-1. Mexico, who deserved more, did not have time to dream for the final. Germany was too much.
Everyone who wears the white shirt of Germany knows that they are forced to win. Any other result may suggest that they are in crisis, and although Joachim Löw is betting on the generational turnover -there are only three players that were in the 2014 World Cup—the formula always gives them pure victories.
Germany has plenty of quality players. Löw rubs his hands when he makes the calls. He can easily leave Neuer, Özil, Reus, Müller, Kroos, Hummels, Weigl, Khedira… at home and opt for the title. Chile is already waiting for them in the final. They are on another level.