Germany opened their World Cup qualifiers with a superb victory against Iceland. It was a dominating performance by the home side as the visitors did not have any answers to the German questions. The Bayern Munich contingent themselves had a great game as they were the core of several attacking plays that troubled Iceland all game. Without further delay, here are the match awards:
Jersey Swap: No one
While it was a great sight to watch Germany play so fluidly and score beautiful goals, Iceland was definitely to blame for how one-sided the game was. True Iceland may be a mismatch in terms of talent, but they showed in 2018 how much heart they could put on the field. This was a completely different affair altogether.
There wasn’t much intent on winning the ball against an under-confident and shaky German backline. Had the visitors applied more pressure when the ball was with the German defenders, they would have created errors leading to good opportunities. Their poor 69% pass success rate didn’t help matters either as they failed to thread through attacks of any significance to disturb their heavyweight opposition. With almost no real pressure and a low back-line, the Germans had all the time and space they needed to dominate this game from start to end.
Der Bomber : Leroy Sané
The Bayern winger had a superb game. Most of Germany’s attacks flowed through Sané as the focal point. Making well-timed runs, Sané ensured he was always available for potential counterattacks to his teammates. With the ball in Germany’s possession, the 25-year-old was actively involved in the build-up with his intelligent and quick passes and movement into dangerous spaces.
Sané has proven his haters wrong in the past few months. His attitude concerning defensive contribution has been nothing but exemplary for an attacking player. Even at Bayern, Sané has constantly tracked back to stop counterattacks by pacey opposition wingers. Today was no different in Germany’s colors. Leroy registered 2 key passes while creating 3 chances and completing 4 ball recoveries. Stats fail to tell the complete story of his attacking contribution which was vital to Germany’s early goals and attacks that followed throughout the game.
Fußballgott: Ilkay Gündoğan
All the German midfielders had an excellent day in the office. Making plays, lobbing in dangerous balls, keeping possession, and scoring a couple of great goals along the way. Germany utterly dominated possession with an impressive 81%. That amount of possession came down to two factors — Iceland’s lackadaisical pressing and Germany’s super-efficient ball movement in both horizontal and vertical directions.
A big part of holding on to so much possession was Ilkay Gündoğan’s short passing and ball shuffling with the rest of the German players. He took no risks as he played the role of a ball messenger, taking the ball from one zone to another through a series of short passes. Gündo registered a pass success rate of 96% while completing a mammoth 141 passes. Along with the rest of the midfield, Gündo cleaned up opposition attacks through constant pressure when out of possession and clever interceptions. The Manchester City man was no slouch in attacking either, contributing with 4 key passes. His effortless goal was the cherry on top of his performance today.
Der Kaiser: Emre Can
While Germany finally managed to get a clean sheet, the backline didn’t have any standout performances. It was functional at best while being strongly supported by their stacked midfield. The defenders looked the most comfortable when not in possession. This should come as no surprise. Niklas Süle’s injury meant that the backline would again be having unfamiliar faces with hardly any chemistry. Not the ideal circumstances to play a high line or dominate ball possession.
Having said that, Can was the pick of the bunch succeeding in all 3 tackles attempted. He, like the rest of his defensive colleagues, got the job done but was more involved in trying to connect with the players higher up the field and maintain a connection with the midfield. Can used his physique to bully the opposition as he won 7 out of 12 duels he was involved in.
Meister of the Match: Joshua Kimmich
The Rottweiler was a menace in the middle of the park. He didn’t allow Iceland to move out of their half nor let them take a breather sitting back, as he was pinging through balls one after another and finding men in dangerous positions. Pulling the strings from the number 6 position, Kimmich pressured Iceland to lose the ball almost immediately after Germany gave it away. In the first half, every time the ball reached Kimmich’s feet, he would slice the opposition in half to find someone in the box.
Despite the number of risky balls played by Kimmich, he still managed to have a pass completion rate of 92% with 150 accurate passes. He registered six accurate long balls out of an attempted 11. This is a fantastic number considering how Iceland was sitting back in their half of the pitch with 11 men while Germany having no real target striker in their line-up. Chipping in with eight recoveries, Kimmich helped in weeding out several attacks by the opposition before they turned dangerous.
Lastly, Leon Goretzka, Serge Gnabry and Kai Havertz also all deserve praise after their performances.