It’s difficult to assess Germany’s play so for in this World Cup, and here’s why: 1, I don’t know if they would have dominated Portugal had Pepe not stupidly gotten a red card, 2, Germany tied Ghana (totally unexpected), 3, Germany beat the US one to zero (although they did control possession the entire game, and it was raining) – But still, have the Germans been as dominate as everyone accuses them of being? It’s a question worth exploring.
Germany’s an interesting team, today vs Algeria their defense seemed out of tune, and while this could be because Hummels could not start, I think it’s worth investigation. Per Mertesacker is not a fast player, and neither are Jerome Boateng and Benedikt Höwedes, furthermore, all three of them are natural center backs playing in a four man back line with Shkodran Mustafi – who is also not the most agile player in the world…
If you take that information into consideration and think about Germany’s first half display against Algeria, one thing stood out for me more than anything else – the German midfield and attack didn’t have fullbacks overlapping on the right and left sides of the pitch to open up the field. And I’ll explain why that is a problem: Bastian Schweinsteiger and Toni Kroos are not midfield maestros that can dribble past a player or two with creativity that disrupts defenses and start attacks… They are both incredible midfielders, although they let Ribery and Robben do most of the creative work on Bayern – and Germany simply doesn’t have players (like Robben and Ribery) for Kroos and Schweinsteiger to supply the ball to. Furthermore, Lahm is not Pirlo, and can’t start attacks from the deep lying midfield position that he holds and has played for Bayern as well. Let me make my point in another way: FC Bayern are so successful because Alba and Rafinha support the attack, plus Robben and Ribery are World class players that plat at a level that Özil and Götze haven’t reached yet.
Germany looked shaky today, and had a lot of trouble dealing with Algeria’s fast paced players. Germany needed to adjust – they need to start playing Lahm at fullback, and allow him to overlap on the right to allow Götze more space to operate and be creative – and the same can be said for Özil – he also needs players to overlap him on the left… Otherwise Kroos and Schweinsteiger will continue to take long shots instead of working the ball around to their playmakers on the wings… If Lahm does switch to fullback for the rest of the tournament, Germany should use Sami Khedira as a defensive midfielder in front of Mertesacker and Boateng to shore up their defense.
When André Schürrle replaced Götze at half-time of their game today against Algeria, Germany seemed a bit more offensively equipped, and I think this is because he dribbles less than the likes of Götze and Özil, plus he’s a bit more athletic than either of them as well. But still, with all the fuss made about Germany, they should be more dominant than they were today as I thought that Algeria actually outperformed them for the better part of the first 90 minutes. Furthermore, Schürrle’s goal proved that he should start (he should also start regularly for Chelsea). Now that it’s all said and done, Germany can rest easy… But they can’t rest on their laurels and must learn from their performance in extra time that Lahm’s ability as fullback is crucial to their success.