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European Championship Qualifier: Germany v Belgium Post-Match Analysis

Will He Ever Stop Scoring? Klose Bags Three Points For Germany Against Belgium.

Joachim Loew’s men opened their European Championship qualification campaign with three points against a very impressive Belgium side who will feel they deserved more from the match. After the controversy and debate surrounding the captaincy of the national side, and Loew’s decision to exclude Michael Ballack from his squad, some may have expected Loew’s side to be a bit disillusioned by all of the media speculation and fail to perform to their usual standards. Fortunately, though, Die Mannschaft got their heads down and focused on the task at hand: a Belgium side who are full of up-and-coming talent and established European players.

Loew picked virtually the same side that finished third in the World Cup, and they once again performed admirably. The only changes from Loew’s World Cup first XI were that Marcell Jansen started in at left-back instead of the injured Jerome Boateng, and Badstuber took Friedrich’s spot in the center of defense, who was also missing due to injury.

Neuer – Lahm, Mertesacker, Badstuber, Jansen – Khedira, Schweinsteiger – Mueller, Ozil, Podolski – Klose

Loew’s side found it difficult to keep the ball and dominate the match because of the physical, hard-working Belgian midfielders who never seemed to let their guard down or lose focus for even half a second. At the end of the day, it was Klose’s goal after a Van Buyten mishap that allowed Germany to march out of Belgium with three points secured.

One Big Belgian: Fellaini's Physicality Caused Real Problems For Germany.

Leekens’ Belgium side are really a formidable one. Despite the loss, they looked for large parts of the game like the better side and were really unlucky to be on the end of a loss after being so close to scoring themselves. It’ll be a shame if they don’t make the tournament in 2012, because they’re a side with great potential. Here’s how the setup:

Bailly – Alderweireld, Van Buyten, Kompany, Vermaelen – Vertonghen, Simons, Fellaini – Hazard, Dembele – Lukaku

Leekens’ side set up in a bit of a christmas tree formation, where Vertonghen and Timmy Simons hardened the center of the midfield and anchored themselves in right in front of the defense to disrupt and destroy any and all German attacks. Fellaini was in a box-to-box role, where he would win the ball a bit higher up the pitch and then quickly put his side on the counter-attack. His physical presence was massive in this match, and I felt like he really bossed the midfield. He forced Schweinsteiger in particular into a much more defensive role.

Hazard and Dembele sat just behind the lone striker and pulled wide and cut inside and really had free-roles in between Germany’s defense and midfield. Dembele’s dribbling caused all sorts of problems; he has to be my man of the match.

Up top, Lukaku was immense. In size, if nothing else. His physicality caused some major problems for Badstuber in particular. Lukaku is only 17 years old, and he already plays like Didier Drogba minus the real confidence in his own ability. If Lukaku continues to play like he did against Germany, he’ll be the next top striker in a few years’ time. A great performance from such a young player.

Neuer impressed in goal, and without him Belgium may have walked away with a lot more than they finally did. Loew, it seems, was quite right to name him the number one goalkeeper instead of the also super-talented Rene Adler.

Kroos Will Put The Pressure On Podolski For A Starting Spot In Loew's Squad.

Germany’s attack is what we’re all really interested in, and maybe just because of how many excellent young attackers are currently coming through the ranks in the Bundesliga. For me, it was Toni Kroos who made a big impression when he replaced Podolski late in the match. He’s a far more creative player than Podolski is, and his passing ability makes him a real threat. He’s like Ozil, but on the left-wing. That’s an asset any team would gladly welcome. I think the pressure could really be on Podolski to perform, because if Kroos gets regular playing time with Bayern Munich, he may force himself into that left-wing position for Die Nationalelf.

As an aside, I’d like to see this from Loew’s side in the future:

Neuer – Lahm, Mertesacker, Friedrich(or Badstuber), Boateng – Khedira, Schweinsteiger – Marin, Ozil, Kroos – Mueller

I think playing a trio as creative and as talented as Marin, Ozil and Kroos behind a player like Mueller, whose finishing is astounding and whose link-up play is already superb to watch, could really be the way to go for Germany in the years ahead. Klose is getting older, and Mueller may be the answer up top for Germany. If he can assert himself at Bayern Munich in a more central position, then maybe Loew will try it out. I just think playing him on the right freezes Marin out of the squad, and I don’t think Germany can leave a player with the quality of Marin on the bench, at least not in the long-term.

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  1. Mohammed TOUATI

    September 14, 2010 at 12:36 pm

    Guten tag Deutschland

    i’ve calculate some things and i found:

    Germany was 3 times world champion in 1954-1974-1990 so if we make this operation we find that Germany must be world champion in 2010 in south Affrica and sincerely it deserved it follow with me this operation
    1990+1974-1954=2010 and in 1966 vis champion “finalist” 1970 3rd place 1974 champion the same history repeated in 2002 finalist ,2006 rd place in 2010 he world cup was written for Germany but the destiny said other word work more you can get in 2014 so also 1954-1974-1990-2014 so it’s also the
    number 4 is good for Germany in 1990 perhaps must been in 1994 so in 90 was united in Germany between the east and the west good luck for euro 2012 then wc 2014 one of the best fan to manschaft in the world

  2. David

    September 5, 2010 at 6:34 pm

    Let’s just call this “Piss on Ballack Day” and get it all out of our systems!

    • Dylan Thomas

      September 5, 2010 at 6:36 pm

      haha I know right? It can be a weekly thing, depending on moods.

  3. David

    September 5, 2010 at 5:07 pm

    To flog a dead horse beyond all recognition…

    Curtis — good point about the age. But there’s a reason that Arsene Wenger won’t give more than a one-year contract to players over 30. They can lose it rather suddenly, turning into dog food relatively overnight — Luca Toni, Thierry Henry, Fabio Cannavaro, Andriy Shevchenko, Roy Keane, Patrick Vieira, Gabriel Batistuta, Paulo Sousa — (we can argue about these!)

    Of course there are counter-examples. Players who don’t rely on speed but rather thought are less likely to succumb to this (Sheringham, Del Piero, Inzaghi, maybe Matthäus.) But an immobile Ballack couldn’t just sit in front of the back four, he needs to get forward to contribute. Do we really believe he’ll be as good in 2 years as he was this past season, one in which (I cant’ say, don’t watch the EPL) Dylan says he was average?

    So the percentages aren’t good for Klose & Ballack. I’m guessing it’ll happen to Ballack this season, along with Raul (who, in my opinion, is already dog food, and has been for a while,) and probably Sami Hyypiä.

    • Dylan Thomas

      September 5, 2010 at 5:46 pm

      And to add to that, Drogba, Forlan and Xavi are all late-bloomers. Drogba wasn’t the player he is today in what should have been his peak, and Forlan and Xavi were not up to the level they are now either. Forlan flopped at Manchester United and we all thought he was just an average striker until recently with Atletico Madrid where he wins the golden boot on a regular basis. Xavi’s best season at Barcelona was 08-09, and that was only two years ago. Drogba was never as prolific as he has been in the last two or so seasons, either.

      The point I’m making is that Ballack isn’t a late bloomer. He hit his peak a long time ago, and now he’s long since passed it by.

      In any case I agree with David’s comment.

  4. David

    September 5, 2010 at 12:48 pm

    Ol’ Mario is gonna have to leave Bayern, or hope for injuries, if he wants to actually play football. I wouldn’t select him over Oli? any day of the week, as Oli? is one of the hardest working men in football, and Gomez has never been as prolific as Klose. And they can’t have Klose & Gomez on the field together anyway. Unlike Ballack, they may indeed take a 34-year-old Klose to Euro 2012, unless someone else steps up in the meantime.

    As for Belgium, the fact that they seemed to be playing for a draw at home shows a worrying lack of confidence in themselves. Playing to finish 2nd in your group is a dangerous game. Surely they can’t be betting on Germany dropping points more than once (away to Turkey.)

    Austria probably won’t be able to finish 2nd, but they could upset the applecart, while Turkey now have the Great Lord & Savior Guus.

    • Curtis

      September 5, 2010 at 3:17 pm

      I agree that Mario may have to leave Bayern. I was actually hoping that the transfer to Liverpool would happen. He needs a fresh start to revitalize himself. However last season despite not being impressive he was more prolific for Bayern than Klose. If Klose’s season goes badly again Mario will probably be pairing up front with Olic.

    • Curtis

      September 5, 2010 at 3:35 pm

      One other thing with regard to an earlier comment. I think age in the modern game is not always the career death sentence that it used to be. At 30 to 32 Drogba, Forlan, Xavi, and Klose are just had excellent years or at least world cup. I am reluctant to write of Ballack simply based on age. I was not following the World Cup qualification but from watching highlights and checking results Ballack seemed to have performed excellently at 32 – 33. I think Loew is right that Ballack should be judged on performance. I really like Khedira and I want him to develope into an even better player but an in form Ballack outshines an in form Khedira in many respects, including precision passing, headers, and free kick goals. Scoring from free kicks in particular is something that Germany is currently really lacking. The question is at 34 – 35 will Ballack still have it? We have to wait and see and not simply write him off.

      • Dylan Thomas

        September 5, 2010 at 4:20 pm

        He hasn’t performed excellently, though. He’s been nothing but average at Chelsea for at least a season or two, and he’s now having to recover from a 3-month injury lay-off. That’s a big deal when you’re 33 years old like Ballack is. He’s very slow, and Germany play a very quick counter-attacking brand of football and I can’t see Ballack being able to keep up with that for a whole 90 minutes. It just seems a bit backwards to include Ballack in the squad and make him a central figure when there are younger players who can do the job very effectively and who have a future with the squad. Yes, Ballack has been a fantastic player for Germany, but I don’t think he’s someone Germany needs or relies on anymore.

    • Dylan Thomas

      September 5, 2010 at 4:25 pm

      I think Mario should leave too. I heard Liverpool were looking at him, and I think that would have been a good move for him, and certainly better for them than Carlton Cole.

  5. Diriye

    September 5, 2010 at 12:46 pm

    Nicolas Jüllich for the left back position?

    This sounds little crazy but the Bayern left back who came in for Lahm against Real Madrid should seriously be considered for 2012. From what I have seen he is an excellent no-nonsense well-rounded defender. He has more attacking and passing game than most of left backs in Bundesliga.

    It is also surprising that no Bundesliga team has spotted his talent as he is sent to Bayer’s 2nd Bundesliga team after Real game. I can’t believe he is not on loan for team like Bremen.

    • Curtis

      September 5, 2010 at 3:20 pm

      Dont know much about him as I didn’t see that game. However doesn’t Lahm play right back for Bayern and Contento play left back? I actually think that Contento holds a lot of promise and would like him to play for Germany. However I suspect he will chose to play for Italy under his parents urging and truthfully based he probably has a better chance of a regular berth with Italy than Germany.

      • Dylan Thomas

        September 5, 2010 at 4:22 pm

        Lahm plays right back for Germany and Bayern, yes. Badstuber or Contento play left-back, and I agree that Contento has a lot of promise. I’m not sure if he will choose Italy, at left-back they’re very gifted with Criscito, Santon and De Ceglie all players who will compete for that spot.

  6. Curtis

    September 5, 2010 at 12:21 pm

    A good evaluation by Dylan. Belgium were a very good team. There were several problems for Germany. Belgium seemed to be playing with 3 defensive midfielders with Fellaini becoming that once Germany had the ball. This created a virtual fortress for Germany to break down especially as most of that back line is top class. Also to my memory Belgium never attacked with more than 4 players. I did not watch the whole game so feel free to correct me if I am wrong. Because of this they were never open to Germany’s lethal counterattacks. The fortress was always completely in effect and they depended on the individual brilliance of their key attacking players Lukaku, Hazard, and Dembele (who are all very good promising players). Because of this I never felt really nervous for Germany. They could not maintain sustained or potent pressure. Plus Neuer inspires such confidence in goal.

    The real problem for me with Germany’s performance was the lack of clinical finishing. Ozil and a few others had chances that they should of scored or at least brought a save out of Belgium’s keeper. Against many sides you will only get a few chances and you have to take them. Everybody needs to work on thier finishing.

    Ozil was not up to his best. This is a difficult time for him as he is now learning the playstyle and tactics of Mourhino at Real and then had to dump that and get back to Loew’s way. Hopefully with time and settling in at Real this wont be a problem.

    Podolski had a poor game except for that great cross to Muller for him to set up Ozil. However I wont say its time to drop him yet for Kroos. His scoring record is very important. However I agree that Kroos is a better all round midfielder, works harder, is obviously determined to get into the starting line-up, and has shown a great link up with Muller at Bayern. On the other hand Podolski and Klose traditionally link up well.

    At this point in time I cannot agree with dropping Klose based on age; the guy just keeps on scoring! Tough decisions for Loew.

    When the time does come who will replace Klose up front is a real conundrum. From watching him against Denmark, if he can get back his full confidence and thus his full clinicalness in finishing, Mario Gomez is a good choice but that is a big if. I have not given up on him. I think he could be great for Germany. Muller might seem like the obvious choice but that is playing him out of position and you really want a potent goalscorer in your midfield. The correct thing might be to push Podolski back up front as a striker and add someone else to the midfield, like Kroos. When looking at al the hot prospects upcoming for Germany there seems to be one flaw; most of them are midfielders and virtually none are forwards/strikers. Looking at the Bundesliga topscorers over the past few years most of the top scorers have been foreigners. This is disturbing. The youth trainers need to push more young players as forwards!

  7. David

    September 4, 2010 at 11:02 pm

    I like your proposed setup, with some proposed or evetual changes.

    The question I have about Kroos, and forgive my ignorance — did he play more centrally for Leverkusen? And same question about Marin. I guess what I’m wondering is if Özil , Kroos & Marin all play in the middle for their clubs. If so you’re kind of shoe-horning them in, with 2 out of position.

    I’d like Boateng in the middle with Mertesacker/Badstuber, if Boateng gets some playing time there at Manchester City, (where he should not have gone.) If he’s given the chance he’ll be outstanding in the middle. He’s not mobile enough for fullback, being rather tall, and doesn’t attack anything like Jansen. He tries, but the difference between the two in South Africa, I thought, was uncomfortably obvious.

    Badstuber is like Boateng. He can play fullback but doesn’t look entirely comfortable, & just isn’t able to get forward like a fullback should these days.

    Regardless, it’s obvious that Löw will have plenty of options, so should be interesting & exciting these next two years. And to wrap it up, the Ballack question should take care of itself. Do you really want a 35-year-old in your Euro 2012 squad? No.

    • Curtis

      September 5, 2010 at 11:50 am

      Some good points David. I totally agree with you that I prefer Jansen over Boateng for left back. He brings much more to the attack. I was surprised he was substituted at half time as I thought he was having a good game. However Boateng is a good player and he was especially good one-on-one with Messi against Argentina in the World Cup.

      The central back pairing with Mertersacker is a real conundrum as Friedrich, Boateng, Badstuber, Westermann and Aogo are al reported to be viable options. Also does anyone know why Mats Hummels does not get chosen. From what I have read he is the best central defender in the Bundesliga

      To answer the issue that you raised I think Kroos and Ozil are both central but Marin tends to play out wide on either the left or right. Ozil I think is quite mobile so with good tactics and awareness from the three players I think Dylan’s set-up can work. I have two problems with it it. One is that there are no potent goal scorers in the midfield. Neither Kroos nor Ozil nor Marin are potent goalscorers. In contrast with Loew’s current set-up both Podolski and Muller bring goals from the midfield. Also, from what I have seen, Marin performs brilliantly for club but has yet to replicate that on the international stage. If he does it would be fantastic as he could be the next Littbarski.

      Everything I have said though comes from a limited range of knowledge as I only recently started back following football with the World Cup after many years. But Germany have inspired me!!!

      • Dylan Thomas

        September 5, 2010 at 12:07 pm

        While Jansen is a fine left-back, I think him being so attack-minded could leave a lot of space down the left, especially if the left-sided attacking player does not have an excellent work-rate. With Boateng at left-back, you know he won’t get forward too often and he’ll hold his ground and defend. We all know Lahm will attack, so if Germany were to ever be counter-attacked down the right, they’d still be safe if Boateng was at left back. Mertesacker or Friedrich could push wide right to cover Lahm, and Boateng and Badstuber could fill in the middle and mark any on-rushing strikers.

        I don’t like Aogo in the center of defense, he can play midfield and maybe left-back but I dont think he’s physical to play in the middle. Hummels and Howedes are both promising, but right now there are quite a few defenders ahead of them, most obviously the ones you mentioned.

        While you’re right that none of those three are excellent goalscorers, they are all so creative that whoever plays up top, Mueller for example, will have chances coming from every angle. Mueller is an excellent finisher, and if he’s receiving the ball with that consistently and that skilfully, then it won’t be too much of a problem that he’s the only one getting his name on the scoresheet.

        I update on a daily basis, so stay tuned!

        • Curtis

          September 5, 2010 at 12:28 pm

          I’ll accede to most of your points on the defence as I don’t know all of these players well. The Jansen vs Boateng issue is still for grabs for me and I still think that Muller should in in position in midfield and someone else up front.

          • Dylan Thomas

            September 5, 2010 at 12:37 pm

            But who, Mario Gomez? I don’t really like any of Germany’s strikers against the world’s top back-lines. Klose is aging but he’s still clinical so he’s the best Germany have. I just think Thomas Mueller could really grow into a world class striker, and I think it’s better for him to play up top because of the talent Germany are churning out in attacking midfield positions.

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