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Three observations from Germany’s admirable 2-1 loss to France

That didn’t really work, but it was encouraging! This is something Germany can build on.

Photo by Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images

The front three were a joy to watch

Credit to Joachim Loew, despite being up against it, he managed to really shake things up in the Germany lineup. Instead of forcing the issue with a slow and out-of-position front line with the likes of Mark Uth and Thomas Muller, Loew opted for a more dynamic front three with Leroy Sane, Serge Gnabry, and Timo Werner. The trio were fast, agile, and interchanged positions regularly, making them a nightmare for the French defense to deal with.

Sane was clearly the star of the show, basically running past defenders at will. His presence made the German counters more lethal than they’ve been in ages. If only his final ball had been a bit better, Germany could have had far more to show for their performance.

Is the three-man defense the answer?

Germany lined up in a kind of 3-4-3 formation, with Matthias Ginter, Niklas Sule, and Mats Hummels as the three center backs, and Thilo Kehrer and Nico Schulz as the right and left wingbacks respectively. The defense did its job, mainly to keep the likes of Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann from scoring. They tried to achieve it by keeping both of them far from the center of the action. Whenever Mbappe got the ball in a wide area, a wingback or a wide center back immediately came in to mark him, keeping him away from Neuer’s goal.

The goal Germany conceded from open play came from Thilo Kehrer forgetting to mark his man out wide, allowing Hernandez to pick out a perfect pass to Griezmann who was free in the center. Germany’s gameplan was sound, but its execution was lacking. Is this the way forward for Germany? Maybe. Could Bayern Munich learn something from the game? Not sure.

The change is welcome, but improvement is still needed

While the switch to an unconventional formation and a younger lineup is welcome, the fact remains that Germany did not score a goal from open play on the night, nor did they manage to keep a clean sheet. There are still major issues that need to be addressed:

  • Germany needs a better right wingback. Thilo Kehrer was passable against France, but you can’t help but think that Joshua Kimmich would do a much better job there — both offensively AND defensively. And if Kimmich is needed in midfield, you still have the likes of Mitchell Weiser and Benjamin Henrichs ready to be called up. Time to give more players a chance.
  • Philipp Max still needs a call-up. If Loew wants wingbacks, then there’s no better left wingback in the country than Philipp Max. Nico Schulz did perform admirably, but when there are better options available, why not go for them? There’s also Marvin Plattenhardt — what happened to him by the way? He didn’t perform well against Mexico in the world cup, but who did? The man was great in the Confederations Cup, and he should get another chance.
  • Perhaps Mats Hummels isn’t the defender Germany needs right now. The penalty call wasn’t exactly fair (Hummels never touched Matuidi) but the fact remains that Mats Hummels really did struggle on the night against France’s pacey forwards. Compared to the likes of Niklas Sule and Matthias Ginter, Hummels really did look out of his depth at times. If Loew was willing to go for radical changes in attack, is he willing to do the same in defense? It might become necessary, if Hummels continues to struggle with pacey attackers.

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