Saturday, July 5, 2014

World Cup 2014 QF : Germany vs France 1-0

The first of the QF matches between Germany & France was expected to be a high octane grueling encounter, but as a game, it failed to live upto its claims. Germany won 1-0 through a 12th minute goal by Mats Hummels, the Borussia Dortmund defender, who held off the challenge from Varane to head past the French goalkeeper Lloris off a Toni Kroos free kick. It was a hard fought game alright as Germans emerged winners, reaching the semifinals for the fourth time consequently.....probably a record of sorts. No wonder, they are statistically the most consistent team in the World Cup, even ahead of Brazil.
The Germans had planned their game well with a 4-5-1 combination, & Lahm was back in his customary full back position. The midfield as usual was the fulcrum of this team, & Schweinsteiger, Khedira, Kroos, Ozil & Mueller (today in midfield), were marshaling the territory with precision & Klose as lone forward upfront.
The Germans wee more keen to hold onto the slender lead they had sneaked in & went in counter attacks. The first half was clearly Germans control. Second half, saw France  shrugging off the rustiness & testing the German defense. Benzema, Pogba, Griezmann, Valbuena started knitting well, but the finishing was poor, as Germans started to control again. In fact Mueller could have sealed the match, but his weak shot off a beautiful Ozil cross down the left flank was cleared easily by Lloris.
In the dying minutes of the game, with four minutes of injury time, Neuer was fantastic & made two extremely crucial saves from close range, as Benzema smiled in frustration. It was clinical Germany that had rolled past France, who rarely put pressure & were good only in patches. Les Bleus were derailed by the more organised Duetsche engine. With both teams having multiple stars, it was expected that the match will produce some scintillating  football, but that was not to be. Both teams struggled in creativity & the ball mostly hovered midfield.

However, the Germans are not looking very organised in attack. The defense & midfield is looking strong & Neuer under the bar has been inspirational, but converting attacks into goals is looking increasingly difficult. If they concede a goal early, they may well struggle to equalise. Joachim Lowe will have his job cut out once he knows whom they face.... Brazil or Colombia, .....both known for free flowing attack & have a regular penchant for scoring. Against such sustained attacks & in trying playing conditions, Germans may just about implode.