Despite player four friendlies over the course of three months which saw them look underwhelming at best, the smart money would have been on Germany flipping a switch once the World Cup started. After all, this is Germany, right? The defending world champions. The big tournament team who has made the semi-final of every major tournament since their Euro 2004 debacle.

However, the world saw a German side that’s still yet to regain its killer instinct against El Tri on Sunday. Here are a couple of takeaways after Die Mannschaft got the Bob Marley treatment from Mexico on Sunday.

2. Losing Track 

MOSCOW, RUSSIA – JUNE 17: Sami Khedira of Germany vies with Hector Herrera of Mexico during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group F match between Germany and Mexico at Luzhniki Stadium on June 17, 2018 in Moscow, Russia. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Make no mistake, Germany had a softer centre than Werther’s Original against a disciplined Mexican outfit. Toni Kroos and Sami Khedira were overrun at times by a team who showed a consistent willingness to press them and force hurried decisions. Their fullbacks, Joshua Kimmich and Marvin Plattenhardt, were caught upfield too often while Mats Hummels and Jerome Boateng were hung out to dry any time Mexico passed the halfway line in the second half.

If not for some wasteful final third decisions by Mexico, this would easily have been three or four considering how much space they had to work with during the final half-hour. Germany looked gung-ho and off the pace defensively, elements which they were showing in their friendlies and elements Hummels himself hinted at post-game. It might require them bringing in a third central midfielder as they did in 2014 or even drop Khedira, who was terrible much of the game, all together in favour of İlkay Gündoğan. Fail to heed these warnings and Germany’s bid for a fifth World Cup may be cut short faster than most expected.

1. Too Slow and Measured in Attack

MOSCOW, RUSSIA – JUNE 17: Timo Werner of Germany looks on during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group F match between Germany and Mexico at Luzhniki Stadium on June 17, 2018 in Moscow, Russia. (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images)

Predictable. Not a word you’d associate with Germany’s attack, especially an attack that boasts depth most countries would be envious of. However, that was surely the case in this game.

Mesut Özil, the only true number 10 Germany has, was hit and miss throughout. Julian Draxler flattered to deceive, Thomas Müller looked largely invisible in Germany’s build-up play and Timo Werner, the man Germany is putting all its faith in up top, was trying too hard to impress. There wasn’t much verve to Germany’s ball movement. Guillermo Ochoa wasn’t seriously threatened for much of the game.
With no more Miroslav to Klose the deal for them when they need a goal, the question is who among Germany’s attack is willing to step up. Muller used to be that man, but as evidenced by Euro 2016 and his last two seasons at Bayern, he can’t be relied on in front of goal. Werner is still unproven. Mario Gómez is proven but can only do so much. They might be able to get away with this with Sweden and South Korea to come, but someone’s going to have to assume the scoring mantle sooner rather than later.

Home Forums World Cup Watch – German engineering breaks down

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