Jersey Swap: Breel Embolo
The Borussia Monchengladbach striker was a constant threat for Switzerland. He was always getting into open spaces between Germany’s midfield and defensive lines and did well a handful of times to turn quickly and give himself space to run in to. Had some of his finishing been better and had he not gone off injured in the 73rd minute of play, he could’ve gotten on the score sheet. His assist for Silvan Widmer’s goal in the 57th minute came as direct result of him receiving possession in open space and driving at Germany’s back line before playing the cross across the box for his teammate. Between his movements off the ball, clever dummies, passes, and driving runs, Embolo was the most constant threat for the Swiss before he had to come off. Hopefully for ‘Gladbach, his injury isn’t too serious.
Tip of the Cap: Timo Werner
Werner didn’t get himself on the score sheet this time round, but he created a handful of chances, particularly in the first half of play. He had some good linkup play with Leroy Sane in the opening stages deployed just to the left of Julian Draxler in attack. His pace kept the Swiss defense honest for large parts of the first half and he was always looking to run in behind the spaces in between the lines. He started to fizzle out in the second half, but he was getting into the right areas at time and might’ve had some decent chances had a handful of crosses from Robin Gosens been a bit more pinpoint. It’s tough to read too much into a performance like this because this attacking unit does not have many minutes under their belts playing together, but you could tell that chemistry was off. In that sense, I guess Joachim Low’s approach will be to focus on the positives and how to build upon them, I.E: the linkup play between Sane and Werner, Julian Brandt and Werner, and Werner’s ability to get into open spaces.
Golf Clap: Ilkay Gundogan
It was far from the Manchester City midfielder’s strongest performance, but Gundogan got on the score sheet and provided some positive play in what was otherwise an under-performing German midfield. Much like the match against Spain, it seemed as if he based his tactical positioning and movements off of where Toni Kroos was, as Kroos often times comes deep to get on the ball. It should also come as no surprise that a Pep Guardiola player did so well on a number of occasions to turn and dribble out of tight situations when Germany played their way out from the back to try and beat the high Swiss line, often times with short passes under pressure. It’s hard to say that any player in Germany’s midfield or attack had a solid outing, but had it not been for Gundogan’s finely taken finish in the 14th minute, Germany would’ve left Basel as losers.
A beauty of a goal from llkay Gundogan gives Germany the lead over Switzerland pic.twitter.com/zsE2KJ5lJE— Football Centre (@FC_OfficiaI) September 6, 2020
Standing Ovation: Matthias Ginter
Ginter put in a solid shift in Basel. He covered a lot of ground and worked diligently on both sides of the ball. He had to spend a lot of his time covering open spaces left in behind by Thilo Kehrer, who was deployed as a more advanced right wing back in front of him. He provided the assist for Gundogan’s finish in the 14th minute after doing well to shield two Swiss defenders off of the ball, collect his own rebound from a cross attempt, pick his head up, and find his teammate just outside of the box. The ‘Gladbach defender hardly put a foot wrong and often times looked as if he was playing right back or right wing back as opposed to right center back, which is where he started. Of all of Germany’s outfield players, he was arguably one of the most consistent, stable performers in the draw and also recorded 3 key passes, the most of any German player.
Meister of the Match: Bernd Leno
It’s concerning that the two Meister awards from the pair of Nations League matches have gone to keepers, but that’s how it has to be, I guess. The Arsenal keeper kept us in the match, plain and simple. He didn’t have much help from the outfield players in front of him and he had virtually no chance of saving Widmer’s effort in the 57th minute. He made a total of 5 saves, including 2 to deny Arsenal teammate Granit Xhaka. He was also wise and tidy with his distribution. It seemed that Low was insistent on having his side play out of the back for whatever reason, but Leno hardly played the wrong pass unless he just had to put his foot through the ball under pressure. Had it not been for all of Leno’s interventions, Germany easily would’ve left Basel empty handed, even though this draw pretty much felt like a defeat.