Germany saves her life in the World Cup, but still plagued by imbalance

Finally, in the second half of his second game at the 2018 World Cup, Germany started playing.

It seemed that he had arrived too late, that he would trust that Mexico and Sweden would not play a draw of their own interest, but then, in the fifth five minutes of added time, Toni Kroos swept home a free kick from the left. It was a dazzling goal to finish a constant drama game and give Germany a much-needed 2-1 victory. It means that Germany will qualify for the last 16 if it gets a better result against South Korea on Wednesday that Sweden manages against Mexico. Also, at one point, perhaps he explained why Germany has not left a World Cup in the first round for 80 years.

Sweden, frankly, having done most things well for most of the game, was poor in the final minutes. It was as if, after Jerome Boateng had been sent off, he was caught between protecting a 1-1 draw that would have kept him three points behind Germany and a winning goal that would have guaranteed that it would happen at the expense of the world champion. There were too many bad things, too many faults, too many opportunities for Germany.

  Germany celebrates the goal of Toni Kroos against Sweden

Robbie Jay Barratt / AMA / Getty Images

And Germany, by then, actually looked like a world champion, finding the possibility after the chance to work the ball wide and carry the crosses to the center. But for two excellent saves by Swedish goalkeeper Robin Olsen, and the position he held outside a Julian Brandt drive, he would have been ahead.

But the first 135 minutes that Germany played in the tournament can not be eliminated with a good half serve. Although Germany dominated the first few minutes to an almost absurd degree, after 10 minutes completed 122 pbades to Sweden's six, Sweden still created two one-on-one in the first 12 minutes. The second of them probably should have resulted in a penalty since Boateng pounced on Marcus Berg from behind.

Sebastian Rudy, who had been much more forceful in the role of Sami Khedira, was forced to leave the half hour with blood dripping from his nose. Ilkay Gundogan replaced him, but he had not had a touch when Kroos, who had been strangely lax against Mexico, squandered possession at a low price on his own half. For a player who is usually so sure in possession, this was amazing, although not as mind-boggling as seeing Ola Toivonen taking the ball over his chest while Sweden was thrown forward, holding Antonio Rudiger and pushing Manuel Neuer. [19659009] As in the first game, the balance simply was not correct. Mats Hummels, who was excluded from the game against Sweden with a displaced vertebra, complained after the game in Mexico for the lack of protection provided by him and his teammate Boateng.

"If seven or eight players play offensively," he said, having previously indicated internally, "it is clear that the attack impulse exceeds defensive stability."

Here again, the fullbacks seemed to play too high, placing an intolerable burden on the midfielder of the only possession. Win the ball back against Germany, Mexico and Sweden showed, and there will be space in which you can accelerate.

The question, then, is why manager Jogi Low would be so lazy. Maybe it's because Khedira can no longer cover the field, but it's hard not to see a measure of self-complacency in the German exhibition, either because of lack of focus or, more seriously, because of a tactical approach that became more Ingrained in making style points than in winning the game.

In general, this has not been a happy German field. Mesut Ozil and Gundogan provoked outrage over accepting to be photographed with Turkish President Recep Erdogan during his campaign for Sunday's general election. There have also been reports of a breach in the field between, on the one hand, the "bling-bling gang" of Ozil, Boateng, Khedira and Julian Draxler, and on the other the Bavarian Hummels, Kroos, Neuer and Thomas Muller. The main point of contention, apparently, was the omission of Leroy Sane, with the Ozil group disappointed that the Bavarians did not do more to encourage Low to select the Manchester City winger for the squad.

There have also been allegations of complacency, with Marco Reus remarkably saying that he did not care to be left out of the opening loss to Mexico because he knew it would be necessary for "in important games." This, obviously, was important enough, and Reus began, noting the equalizer of a cross by Timo Werner.

The World Cups, of course, are not won in the two opening games. Champions, as Germany did four years ago, often grow in tournaments. A little early stress testing can be a good thing. But this was quite stressful, and there are important issues that must be resolved with the rest of the camp.


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