Author: Steven Turek
Germany – Ukraine 2:0
Goals: Mustafi 19‘, Schweinsteiger 90‘
Schweinsteiger’s Return and Boateng’s Acrobatics
From the beginning, Germany put on a high degree of positional variability, without losing the structure and organization.
In that process, the respective ball near full-back pushed very high to give Khedira and Kroos the opportunity to take advantage of the opening space.
Another indication of this concerted variability was seen in minute eleven:
The ball is located on the right side, Boateng plays a short cross ball to standing in the half-space full-back Hector (to keep the passes as short as possible!), Hector gives the ball to the wings to Draxler, to finally arrive in the penalty area almost completing the attack by himself!
By the way: This ball far and engaged full-back is a solution that already Bayern Munich in last season presented against deep defending opponents and one of the reasons why more and more midfielders play this position.
Germany’s Insurance Defense and Counterpressing Works Flawlessly.
This position in possession, with many players in the center, the full-backs in the half space etc. has another advantage: After a ball loss an effectively counterpressing is much easier. Counterpressing is no more than the fastest possible ball reconquest after losing possession. In these situations, players do not run strictly back to their positions but take their position in relation to the situation on the ball as well as their respective opponents. In this scene Hector is not running just to the rear, but also inward, to intercept the Ukrainians run. The key for a successful counterpressing, however, is the direct situation on the ball. The player in possession must be stopped on continue the ball vertically!
Fluke at Crosses and Corners – Acrobat Boateng Saves Germany in The Mid-Term
At the end of the first half, began the first good phase of the Ukrainian team. Especially on set plays or flanks and cross the team from eastern Europe was dangerous. By its nature, ones can defend flanks at three locations – where they arise, where they are played and where they come down. Germany had in the phase problems in all three areas. Thus, the defense behind the ball was no longer reliable in one scene. In the next scene the pressure on the winger was missing (added: Sydorchuk makes an outstanding play in 43 minutes against three Germans) and in another scene, the newly formed defense gave too much room to Ukraine’s strikers, instead of marking an opponent 1 on 1.
In minute 37 in a transition and therefor complicated situation Ukraine gets the ball in the penalty area. Two German players are indeed near, but do not prevent the flank (or a possible shoot). All of the defense is based too much on the center (3 to 2) and “forgets” the incoming Ukrainians. Boateng saves a few seconds later acrobatically.
What about Götze?
Mario Gotze’s entry was quite promising. He was very agile, closing passing lanes in counterpressing and pressed effectively. And over possession he was clever to fall into the half-spaces, got passes behind the opponent midfielders, turned and dribbled toward the chain – which was exactly the Götze, we all want to see (Minute three). However, this was also the last time something like that happened….
Example 1: As early as the second half Götze comes in half space in possession, plays a one-two with Khedira and gets in-between the chains, with pace and space in possession. In such situations, we would all wish that he simply marched towards the gate and tries to generate a shot at the goal or to draw a foul. In this situation, even completely without risk, as Müller, Özil and Khedira safeguard the attack. Instead, he responds to the emergent central defender with a pass to Özil (red), which does not reach Özil and initiates a counterattack.
If he dodged in transition on the wing (which in principle is a good idea), he showed similar small error as in the season at Bayern Munich. Because: Götze in such situations often plays it safe and moves wider than necessary. This takes him not only in general dynamics, but also a better angle to finalize the attack.
Example 2: Götze runs in the counterattack situation too wide (black arrows). If he moves only as wide as necessary (white arrows), he can overcome the deeper defense already with the first touch. Instead, he is even but under pressure by a following midfielder.
Conclusion: The second half provided not a lot of action. Germany controlled the game in possession and against counterattacks. The Ukraine had, as already in the first half, a few standard situations, but overall not the quality to bring Germany in seriously trouble. Actually, that would be the end of the game (and the analysis), were it not for the substitution of Bastian Schweinsteiger. And no matter how many minutes he can play, he immediately showed that he is incredibly valuable. His goal was one of those emotional moments that can turn a boring and bumpy kick into a great start towards the title.