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The German national side submitted to a dire collapse, giving up 4 consecutive goals to allow Sweden to take a 4-4 draw in the World Cup qualifiers. With half and hour to go in the match, Germany maintained a huge lead and looked like they would run away with the match and the group. But Sweden's fight-back left Die Nationalelf with some serious questions to answer.
I guess I'm of 2 minds here ... on the one hand, there are clearly big defensive problems, and they need to be addressed. But, at the same time, this was a great comeback from a Sweden team that we knew was capable. There was no way Germany was going to run through the WC qualifiers, the WC group stage, and the knockout stages winning every match on the way to the trophy. If we had to have a "wake up, boys, you're not invincible" match, this was probably as good a time as any.
First, the good news: the offense is working great. Müller hitting the post with an early chance was about the only criticism you could give of the first hour of play. He and Reus had a great one-two passing move on the feed for Klose's second goal. Reus was all over the place, Klose looked to be in vintage form, and Özil, sporting a fresh haircut, was immaculate on a long-range strike. I think Reus, Özil and Tommy behind one striker is an offensive set that can give any defense nightmares. Even Big Merts got in on the scoring action, with just his 2nd ever goal for Germany, I believe.
Ok, now for the bad news. Our defense and goalkeeping have some major problems. I could also include the defensive midfield here, as Germany should have been able to kill the game even after giving back 2 goals if we could have just held possession. But the back line was the worst culprit.
Badstuber ... there's no shame in getting beaten to a high ball by Zlatan, I suppose. He's a huge presence who moves quickly for a big guy and who's hard to mark. I guess the bigger problem would be why there aren't 2 CBs back in the box when you have a 4-0 lead and you know the other team's striker is going to try to ghost in behind you.
The second goal was much worse, though. Neuer had great position, and just let Lustig put it right through him from a tough angle. That was surprising, because whatever other problem's Neuer has had, he's usually very good at positioning his body to send all rebounds outward.
Here are some thoughts after the collapse:
- I want to see Hoewedes get some minutes. First of all, I think he's better than Mertesacker; but even if that's not clear, we need to cycle some new defenders in there. Badstuber and Merts are too similar, and we don't have anyone with quickness to get to loose balls in the are when those 2 are at CB.
- Kroos is developing into a nice player, but he can sometimes disappear when we're trying to play a defensive style. He's not a great tackler, he doesn't mark opposing mids very aggressively, and it's not clear that he's most useful in that double-pivot. Unfortunately, unlike Bayern, Jogi doesn't have a lot of options there (without Khedira). Özil is probably no better defensively than Kroos, and none of our CBs strike me as the "give CDM a shot" types. Maybe we could bring Ballack out of retirement for a final run.
- Not that it made a difference, but there was no logic to the Goetze for Müller move. If anything, we could have brought on Hoewedes or Heiko at that point.
Again, though, I don't think this is as catastrophic as it seems at first. Blowing a 4-0 lead is crushing, don't get me wrong. But with Khedira and Hummels in the mix, I have to think the outcome would have been a lot different. Anyway, it's good to get your wake-up call sooner rather than later.
Thankfully, we're back to Bayern time now. The boys are on the road to face Fortuna D this weekend, while Dortmund and Schalke renew their rivalry. We'll be back with a look at that and some other stuff later this week. Thanks for reading.