Defending champion Germany resuscitated their World Cup hopes with a dramatic 2-1 victory over Sweden in their second Group F game in Sochi on Saturday, despite going down to 10 men late in the second half.
HELLO DIE MANNSCHAFT, THE SWEDES ARE TALLER
The Germans played into the hands of the Swedes in the first half. Due to Sweden’s compactness in the midfield, the ball was mostly sent to Joshua Kimmich and Jonas Hector who continuously whipped in “hopeful” high crosses. The Sweden defenders are of greater height than the German attackers hence the more the high crosses came in, the more beams of smiles we saw on the faces of the Sweden defenders.
GERMANY’S CHANGE OF PLAN
Haha….It took 45 minutes for Joachim Low to realise the height in Sweden’s defence. The second half saw the Germans whip in more low crosses and appeared more threatening. It was of little surprise that Germany’s equalizer came from a low cross. An introduction of Mario Gomez also meant that Germany offered more threat if they opted for aerial balls. The introduction of Julian Brandt also gave more steel to the midfield and made Sweden's numerical advantage less advantageous.
GERMANY’S SUSCEPTIBILITY TO COUNTER-ATTACKS
Germany’s defenders often pushed higher up the pitch, living them prone to counter attacks. In the first half, Sweden had 3 different clear-cut opportunities on the break. If Sweden took their chances, there would have been a different narrative to this exciting football script.
SWEDEN’S INEFFICIENCY DURING SECOND HALF COUNTER-ATTACKS
Germany was more intense in the second half as they searched for a win. In response, Sweden sat deeper and deeper. Due to their approach, Sweden’s attack line were limited to counter attacks. Surprisingly, the Swedes failed to move quickly when they had chances to initiate counter-attacks. It seems they were more upbeat about picking up 1 point than gaining all 3 points. Even after Jerome Boateng’s sending off, Sweden still failed to move out of their defensive shape. Starman Emile Forsberg was very sluggish in possession. He lost possession quite a number of times and failed to replicate the excellent performances he put in for RB Leipzig.
GERMANY STILL PREDICTABLE
The slow build-up play and continuous switching of the ball to the flanks which characterized their first-half display in the opening game against Mexico was repeated. Obviously, teams of smaller pedigree will set-up defensively against this German side and so Joachim Low must come up with different strategies to break down ultra-defensive sides. Shooting from range [which Germany rarely attempts] and attackers moving quickly in behind the opponents' defensive line [Julian Draxler and Marco Reus adapted it in the opening 15 minutes] are strategies to be considered.
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