Germany v Portugal: Manchester United Target Mats Hummels Is World Class And Other Things We Learned
Defensive Frailties? What Defensive Frailties!?
Germany’s defence was the biggest question mark going in to the tournament. Whilst there is no shortage of quality defensive options at Jogi Low’s disposal, the likes of Mats Hummels, Marcel Schmelzer and Bendikt Howedes have, up to date, been unable to transfer their impressive club form to the national team setup. Against Portugal, however, the back four of Lahm – Badstuber – Hummels – Boateng looked solid and well-balanced. Boateng did a fantastic job of nullifying the threat of Ronaldo, whilst Hummels and Badstuber developed a strong understanding and rarely surrendered a chance in open play. They were extremely well protected by the midfield duo of Bastian Schweinsteiger and Sami Khedira, but they kept Ronaldo, Nani et al extremely quiet until late on when Portugal really pushed on in need a goal. In rather timely fashion, Germany appear to have found the defensive solidity on which to build on for the rest of the tournament.
Mats Hummels: World-Class
Mats Hummels in particular finally looked like the classy, composed, world-class centre back that we have seen over the past two seasons at Borussia Dortmund; he was the best player on the pitch. Not only was his defensive work flawless, but his technical proficiency meant he could bring the ball out comfortably from the back, helping combat Portugal’s stifling five-man midfield, as well as step up whenever Schweinsteiger went forward to support the attack. Despite usually playing as the left-centre back for Dortmund, he was deployed on the right side against Portugal (with Badstuber taking his usual place as the LCB) which didn’t seem to faze him – although he is naturally right-footed. The stats seem to indicate that he was the key man, too: he made the most completed passes (72), had the most touches on the ball (85) and won the most duels (16), as well as making 10 clearances and 6 interceptions.
Mats Hummels finally looked like the classy, composed, world-class centre back that we have seen over the past two seasons at Borussia Dortmund
Mario Gomez: Big Game Player
Despite his impeccable goalscoring record, question marks still remain as to whether Mario Gomez is the man to lead the line for the Germans. The criticism levelled at Gomez does seem strange given that his winner against Portugal was his 50th goal of the season for club and country, but his lack of mobility - meaning he was often isolated - and his poor showing in the Champions League final, coupled with the fact that he has previously failed to impress at international tournaments, had left many questioning whether he should start the game. Miroslav Klose has always been prolific for the national team and seems to possess a better understanding with Podolski, Muller and Ozil, and many fans had claimed that he would be a safer choice to start with. However, Klose missed the final two months of the season with a thigh injury, so it is difficult to imagine he is match fit. Still, Gomez did his chances no harm with a well taken header and, if the attacking triumvirate that play off him can get up in support of him quicker when Germany are in possession, he has a great chance of proving his critics wrong during the rest of the competition.
Cristiano Ronaldo: Style Over Substance?
Whilst Lionel Messi was busy netting a hat-trick against Brazil in New Jersey, Ronaldo struggled to make an impact against the Germans. His most notable contribution to the game was his bizarre half-time makeover: in the first-half he was sporting a long-sleeved shirt and a slicked back haircut, yet when he came out for the second-half he had changed in to a short-sleeved shirt - (understandable, I suppose, given the humid conditions in Lviv) but had reverted back to his standard spiky-headed effort. It was always going to be difficult for CR7 to influence the game; Portugal lack a competent centre-forward so they are always going to be overly reliant on him to not only create chances, but also to score goals. He has been deployed as a false nine in the past to various degrees of success, but against Germany, Helder Postiga was the man up front - although he rarely touched the ball and offered little in the way of an attacking threat. Portugal desperately need to find a way to get the best out of Ronaldo if they are to have any chance of progressing in the tournament.
Whilst Lionel Messi was busy netting a hat-trick against Brazil in New Jersey, Ronaldo's most notable contribution to the game against Germany was his bizarre half-time makeover
Germany’s Embarrassment Of Riches?
Whilst Germany’s starting line-up was undoubtedly impressive, the neutral fan could be forgiven for being slightly underwhelmed. The inclusion of Lukas Podolski was understandable given his track record at international tournaments - but he serves a function in the system more than anything else, and in tight games like this he’s not the sort of player you would expect to unlock a stubborn defence. Whilst Thomas Muller did an admirable job on the right of the attacking three, he does he best work for Bayern Munich when deployed centrally. Mario Gotze, Marco Reus and Andre Schurrle are all exciting players to watch and the trio are fast making names for themselves in the Bundesliga, and with Portugal packing the midfield and restricting space between the lines, it was both surprising and disappointing to not see one of the aforementioned trio enter the fray to try and take the creative burden off of the impressive Ozil. Other talented young players such as Toni Kroos, Marcel Schmelzer and Ilkay Gundogan may also find it difficult to get any game time this summer, which would be a great shame when most of them would be starters for the vast majority of teams in the tournament.
Catch Alex Woo on Twitter
Watch Handbags' England vs France preview on Google+ 7-7.30pm on Sunday, 10 June here
Or, if you miss it live, you can watch it straight after on YouTube here
To find out more about Handbags click here
Read our other top articles on Euro 2012
Click here for more articles about Football and Sport
Click here to follow Sabotage Times on Twitter
Click here to follow Sabotage Times on Facebook