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
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
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.