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Observations from Germany’s 1-1 draw against Spain

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Notes from a surprisingly scintillating friendly.

Germany's forward Thomas Mueller (2nd L) is congratulated by his teammates Germany's defender Jerome Boateng (L), Germany's defender Mats Hummels (2nd R) and Germany's midfielder Sami Khedira (R) after scoring the 1-1 during the international friendly football match of Germany vs Spain in Duesseldorf, western Germany, on March 23, 2018, in preparation of the 2018 Fifa World Cup. Photo by Odd Anderson/AFP/Getty Images

Germany cannot afford to start slow

The early minutes of this games were sloppy and slow on both sides. This proved to be a problem for Germany, as their uninspired defensive play (by a back four that featured three Bayern players: Mats Hummels, Jerome Boateng, and Joshua Kimmich) allowed Spain to jump to an early lead. It also bears noting that the score could easily have been 2-0 in the eighteenth minute if not for a great save by Marc-André Ter Stegen.

The problem was not so much that Germany allowed that goal, but rather that they could not capitalize on similar opportunities in front Spain’s goal. Jonas Hector, Timo Werner, and Julian Draxler all had chances to score while the Spanish defense was still finding their collective footing. When the games matter, they need to score those goals early on. Playing from behind is not a good look. Muller rescued them today, but that is not always a guarantee.

Space is key

Throughout the match, Spain seemed to have nearly unlimited space near and in Germany’s box. This was a result of both lackadaisical defending on Germany’s party as well as solid play from the Spanish midfield and attack. On the opposite side of the field, Germany struggled to find the necessary space to create a goal until the 34th minute when the Raumdeuter himself, Thomas Muller, scored an absolute stunner of a goal.

If Germany wants to defend their World Cup title, they need to be able to consistently create space and, conversely, prevent the other side from finding any. They cannot rely on Müller magic to manifest itself every match. They also need to score when they create opportunities, especially when facing world class keepers like David De Gea.

Timo Werner is fast

Also, duh. But wow! Even in a friendly, Werner’s speed was incredible. It was by far the most noticeable attribute of any player on display, and if he wasn’t the best player on the field today, he was certainly the most exciting and magnetic. I could not take my eyes off the young Leipzig star. By the time the World Cup rolls around, he will officially be a can’t-miss starter if he is not that already. He received a deservedly huge ovation after being subbed out in the 84th minute. Amazing to think of the boos he received just last year after his infamous dive.

Also, could someone please tell Jogi Löw to let us see Werner play as much as possible with fellow speedster Leroy Sane. He came on the 69th minute and was a delight to watch, just as he has been all year for Manchester City. The Werner-Sane connection has incredible potential.