Manuel Veth reporting from Russia –
Germany are still recovering from their surprise defeat against Mexico. Having defeated El Tri one year ago with a largely experimental squad at the FIFA Confederations Cup anything but another victory would have been considered a shock ahead of the match. But El Tri had learned, and their tactical approach took Germany by surprise.
Mexico, however, entered the match with a game plan with Juan Osorio having analysed Die Mannschaft and found significant weaknesses in Bundestrainer Joachim Löw’s line-up. “We knew how we are going to play six-months ago”, Osorio told the press. Placing pressure on both wingers and exploring the space between midfield and defence Mexico’s Carlos Vela and the excellent Hirving Lozano had a field day picking apart Germany’s defence at will.
Two days after the match Germany were still recovering from their surprise defeat against Mexico. Having defeated El Tri one year ago with a largely experimental squad at the FIFA Confederations Cup anything but another victory would have been considered a shock ahead of the match.
Germany need to look back to the Confederations Cup to improve the tactical setup
Germany, in the meantime, were too sluggish, to slow, to react. Sami Khedira, Mats Hummels and Joshua Kimmich, in particular, looked bad when it came to their defensive work. Of those three players, only Kimmich was in the line-up one year ago. Khedira, in particular, seemed lost against a Latin American side full of energy.
The result was a complete opposite to one year ago – Germany, in fact, can be lucky the match on Sunday only ended 1-0 for Mexico. This begs the question of where did it all go wrong for Germany?
Perhaps the most straightforward answer to Germany’s problems lies in last summer’s 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup victory. Joachim Löw should switch back his formation to a 3-5-2/3-5-1-1. Playing with five in midfield and three in the back would allow room for Leon Goretzka in midfield and create room for a third defender in the form of either Matthias Ginter, Antonio Rüdiger or Niklas Süle.
Ginter and Rüdiger, in particular, bring the athleticism to close holes between defence and midfield. Both would also be able to act as cover for either Hummels or Boateng should they decide to venture forward.
Three in the back and five in midfield might be the better tactical setup
The side that faced Chile at the ConfedCup final looked as follows: ter Stegen – Rüdiger, Mustafi, Ginter – Hector, Rudy, Goretzka, Kimmich – Draxler, Stindl – Werner. Shkodran Mustafi and Lars Stindl are the only two not in the squad. While Mustafi was dropped for lack of quality Stindl missed the tournament with an injury.
Both have natural replacements or even upgrades in the side. Hummels could take his role at the centre with Rüdiger and Boateng taking the other two spots in the back three. Stindl, in the meantime, is not unlike Thomas Müller, who could take the role behind Timo Werner.
In midfield, Hector and Kimmich would act as wing-backs. Leon Goretzka could be nicely placed next to Toni Kroos, who could take over Sebastian Rudy’s role from one year ago. Finally, Marco Reus should come on for Julian Draxler.
Other options would include playing Ilkay Gündogan and Kroos in midfield right behind Reus and Draxler, who could start together behind Müller and Werner or maybe even Mario Gomez. The bottom line is Joachim Löw has options, which may include dropping some of the old guard as well as a formation that may have worked four years ago in favour of a system that was successful the last time Germany played in Russia.
Manuel Veth is the owner and Editor in Chief of the Futbolgrad Network. He also works as a freelance journalist and among others works for the Bundesliga and Pro Soccer USA. He holds a Doctorate of Philosophy in History from King’s College London, and his thesis is titled: “Selling the People’s Game: Football’s transition from Communism to Capitalism in the Soviet Union and its Successor States,” which is available HERE. Originally from Munich, Manuel has lived in Amsterdam, Kyiv, Moscow, Tbilisi, London, and currently is located in Victoria BC, Canada. Follow Manuel on Twitter @ManuelVeth.