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Day 17: Recap
Straight up: 19-17-8
Ach du Scheiße! Well, gentlemen. As your friendly bookie is so often fond of reminding you, he absolutely hate being proven correct. With solid conviction that the time had come when Gary Lineker's legendary quote would meet its match, I tipped England. So it was.
Ugh. It's finally over. Relief reigns. Your friendly bookie won't deny that all the usual emotions associated with tournament football are here. There is pain. There is hurt. In terms of degree, however, they pale in comparison to the feelings experienced after the 2018 group stage exit.
I actually find them less intense then when sitting down to write the obituary for the women's team two Summers ago. Mostly, we're all just relieved that this Löw Era didn't end in total disaster. A new Era, and indeed a new tournament, are but 18 short months away.
S.S.S. Salute to Fallen Vaterland
4 games played
6 goals scored
Previous Germany Tactical Coverage:
For obvious reasons, the order gets reversed tonight. The sendoff section comes first as the bookie bids farewell to his beloved home country. If you're just joining us, you can review the back-posts to confirm that Germans were never truly optimistic about this team.
Okay, that's the case every year if you wish to be accurate about it. This year was a bit different in that we actively tempered our expectations from the start. No hopes for the semi-finals. None. Just get Jogi out without a complete shitshow.
I suppose you could say that this reasonable objective was met. The tournament was by no means a catastrophe. Despite the fact that--as we shall cover shortly--Löw bowed out with one last tactical fuck up, today's result could have swung either way.
As expected, the match was incredibly tight. Our XI put forth and admirable effort and got their chances. One can't really call into question the amount of determination and motivation from the Jungs. They fought as becoming representatives of our country.
Predictably enough, Löw messed up a chance to outmaneuver his counterpart. In so doing, we missed a chance to make a deeper run into the tournament on the far weaker bracket. That stings a bit.
Lineup—Germany—Match Four (3-4-3) (6/29/2021)
Nope. Wrong. Not even close. Löw would have surely received heavy criticism initially had he, just like in the 2012 Euros, employed wholesale changes in the knockout phase. That would have mattered not as this wasn't the right selection. The solution was screaming at him the whole time.
In grading the Jungs in the previous three fixtures, the bookie has had to repeatedly point out that Kai Havertz hasn't been great the ball. The 22-year-old has scored twice. This is immaterial. Löw needed to drop him after the last performance. He had justification too as Havertz sat on a yellow.
Müller also hasn't been fantastic. One couldn't really justify dropping "Herr Radio", however, as his veteran leadership would be needed on the pitch. The self-evident answer, then, would be to pocket him central. Sané and Gnabry could then flank him on the top axis, as drawn up in the latest Lines section.
Kimmich and Goretzka also needed to be reunited in midfield with the back-three disposed of. Ginter can play at right back. For that matter, so too can Emré Can and even Niklas Süle. Had Löw rightly assumed-- like most of us did--that Southgate would line up in a back three, we would have retained advantages at every position.
The constellation ultimately rolled out gave Germany a much slighter advantage man-to-man. It was always likely to be one that evaporated quickly once the Three Lions settled into their new set-up. As it turned out, the firmer control by the Germans in terms of the possession game lasted only 14 minutes.
"Turbo Timo" might have been the right selection to serve as lead-striker if he hadn't come off a confidence sapping club campaign. The link-up play just didn't work. Müller and Havertz were miles off when attempted to service him. The timing on all the runs was way off.
Duh. These players don't ordinarily play together. Even club teammates Havertz and Werner don't regularly feature on the pitch at the same time at Chelsea. Axes, axes, axes. They're of such tantamount importance when a national side finds itself in transition.
Don't couple non-teammates on planes if they haven't had time to accrue experience together on the national side! Also, don't pick someone like Werner if he's having trouble with his scoring touch!
Huge missed opportunity here in the 32nd. What are you doing, Timo? You've got to lift it over the keeper, son! You're instinct and intuition just aren't working this year are they? I don't think Gnabry would have failed to score this.
Cognizant of this fact, Löw probably should have pulled Werner for Gnabry at the break. Instead, we just got this lame structural re-format. Blah. This ensured that--apart from Havetz's distance effort in the 48th--neither side would get a chance until Sterling scored the opening goal in the 75th.
Lineup—Germany—46th minute (5-3-2)
Also wrong. You can clearly see what the idea was here. Reverse thruster the wingbacks and pull them in. Flatten out the back-three and generate some centralized builds. It could have worked. The fact that Löw didn't react when it didn't constitutes a failure.
We got our first substitutions in the 65th. Southgate brought on Grealish for Bukary Saka. Löw introduced--far too late--Gnabry for Werner. The plan for the stretch run can be represented thusly:
Lineup—Germany—66th minute (3-4-2-1)
Wrong again. Too much complexity. Too many directional shifts. Way too crowed on the central vertical axis. You've got the wingbacks forward again, depleted after fighting numerous midfield ground and aerial battles. They'll have some trouble catching up if England can string a few passes together.
Your coverage is in trouble on the track back. Watch out.....
Ups. As they said at Wimbledon earlier in the day, "Game. Set. Match". Your friendly bookie watched the final 15 minutes with effectively zero hope for a comeback. This was just one of those tight duels in which the first goal would decide it all.
The commentators, understandably swayed by the events of yesterday, treated it like a contest until the final second of injury time. I was in no way surprised to see this:
Even the best find it difficult to execute laser focus when they suffer the deflation of a critical goal in a tight match like this one. Harry Kane adding a second also counted as fully expected. This was the 2006 WM semi-finals all over again.
To our last set of grades. Twelve of them this time as only Gnabry factored in off the bench.
Grades—Deutschland (Match Four)
As I said, there were some bright spots. Liked the early save from Neuer and the monster goal-saving tackle from Hummels. Our returning center back and keeper actually turned in "A" level performances insofar as I'm concerned.
Rüdiger at least kept Saka in check. Kroos and Goretzka won some important duels and passed well. Havertz had that one effort. As usual, however, he was nowhere near consistent enough with his touches. The same applies to Müller. Ginter was pretty awful defensively.
Pretty quiet game from both Gosens and Kimmich, who did have to deal with too many tactical reassignments. Werner and Gnabry were very much the victims of Löw's selection mangling. The latter regrettably has to receive failing marks for doing almost nothing but turning the ball over.
So there we have it. The final set of grades for the final match of Jogi Löw's Bundestrainer Era.
We don't have all that much time, but I believe that we're in good hands. Hansi will have no qualms about bringing in the right mix of in-form veterans and promising youngsters.
The U21 side that just won the European championship actually isn't as exciting as the one that did it in 2017. It nevertheless features a pair of players I genuinely thought that Löw should have brought with him this time.
Just wait until you meet Florian Wirtz. Even better than Havertz was at the age of 17.
Our new staring right-back, Ridle Baku. I love watching this kid play! Löw should have brought both him and Wirtz along
Unfortunately, we got this next kid a German passport a little too late.
Our new starting left-back, Borna Sosa. He's a real treat to watch too. Sorry, Croats. He's ours. You will rue letting him get snatched up by us. Just you wait.
Speaking of kids we snatched up, sorry England. Jamal Musiala put on a clinic in brief action in the second match. He's ours too.
Too bad. So sad. Wait until he exacts revenge on you next time.
....there's one more thing.....
He's coming. A little injury set back doesn't mean he's going away for good.
If Youssoufa Moukoko can manage to stay healthy, you can forget about all this talk of Kylian Mbappe being the natural heir to Ronaldo and Messi. This kid has mad skills like you wouldn't fucking believe.
“Riffs of the Day”—Day Seventeen
Reader: Mats Hummels is simply unreal.
Vicey: The bookie and 16-M share a common appreciation of a top class precision tackle.
Jesus-fucking-h-christ. Margin for error = 0.000001% That was even better than the one against Mbappé!
Reader: Gosens with a bit of Trippi-air.
Vicey: Afafafafafafa. Syndicate member 51-M with some zinging word play during Gosens' booking in the 72nd. We should trot out the Thomas Müller gif for that one.
....more like Kieran "Trip-i-ay"
Müller? More like Mïssler!
Reader: How long before England fans start hating Sterling again?
Vicey: That's a bit of a low blow, 128-M Let them have their day.
Okay. Maybe we can do a bit better than these guys.
Vicey: Catch her, 11-M? How could you miss her? I did more than catch her, friend. She's my very special guest; here to take up the task of the closing photograph when there are no lines to check in on tomorrow.
It's okay, Maus! Everything will be okay! Don't worry my little Liebchen. We'll be back to take what is rightfully ours from the fat baldies with the un-sculpted chins from the Isle.
This incredibly German looking father and his sweet little daughter bid you a solemn Kraut farewell until the next round of Lines!