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Match Awards from Germany’s opening loss to France

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While seeing fans again at the Allianz Arena was inspiring, Germany’s offensive performance wasn’t.

Photo by Markus Gilliar/Getty Images

The clash at the Allianz Arena, and one of the most anticipated group stage matches, ended in defeat for Jogi Löw’s German side. Conceding an early own goal, France sat deep for most of the game and waited to strike on the counter. Germany was toothless and un-creative in the final third and didn’t cause too much offensive damage to the blue wall throughout the game. Without further ado, here is BFW’s Match Awards from Die Nationalmannschaft’s loss against the World Cup holders and the current best international team on paper.

Jersey Swap: Paul Pogba

The best player on the pitch. Paul Pogba proved why he should, on days like this, be considered as one of the best current midfielders in the world. Together with N’Golo Kante and a surprisingly good Adrien Rabiot, Pogba and company won the decisive midfield battle. Well-drilled defensively, Pogba’s strength is when he’s on the ball. He can slow the tempo down, cut through opposing lines, and also shine with his natural flair. Frustratingly inconsistent at times and a tad annoying off the pitch, today’s display in Munich proved why none of that matters.

Der Kaiser: Matthias Ginter

Germany’s best performances happened on their side of the pitch. Matthias Ginter’s being selected for the starting eleven instead of Bayern Munich’s Niklas Süle raised eyebrows amongst the Die Roten fanbase. But the Freiburg-native had a solid game and managed to go toe-to-toe with one of the best attackers in the world, Kylian Mbappe. Today, Ginter proved his skill while possessing the ball and his resilient defensive mindset. He should not be ashamed of his display today.

Fußballgott: Toni Kroos

Both Toni Kroos and İlkay Gündoğan lost the crucial midfield battle, but Kroos had a better game than the lackluster Gündoğan. You have to question Jogi Löw’s decision to play two similar types of midfielders in a game where Germany needed a box-to-box type of midfielder. Sure, Leon Goretzka wasn’t available, but in hindsight maybe Lukas Klostermann should have played on the right-flank while moving the more versatile Joshua Kimmich to the middle of the pitch. Kroos did try his best though, showcasing his excellent long passes while also playing with more passion and determinism than Gündoğan.

Der Bomber: Robert Lewandowski

Yeah, I know, I’m being silly and not following the norm again when writing BFW’s Match Awards. But let me be perfectly clear, Germany’s biggest weakness is not obtaining a real striker in their national selection pool. The constant lack of communication between Thomas Müller, Serge Gnabry, and Kai Havertz was extremely evident. Müller’s presence in the team might be beneficial against Hungary or Portugal, but today he was poor, and so was the un-inspiring Havertz and Gnabry. The German attacked missed a target-man who can hold up play while aerially challenging the French defenders.

Robert Lewandowski also looked poor against Slovakia yesterday. He needed his Bayern teammates. And his Bayern teammates needed him against France.

Meister of the Match: Mats Hummels

While Müller did not impress me at all today, Mats Hummels did. Scoring the own goal aside, Hummels was the best player in Germany’s defense, which was the most impressive part of Die Nationalmannschaft’s game in a mediocre display. Playing in the center of a three-man defense, Hummels’s playmaking ability and defensive ruthlessness was extremely noticeable. His performance was a positive surprise for someone (like myself) who thought he would constantly struggle against the trigger-happy Karim Benzema and lightning-quick Kylian Mbappe.

Lastly, his desperate last-resort tackle against Mbappe was a thing of beauty and extreme bravery.