Germany got off to an uninspiring start at Euro 2012 against a well organised but toothless Portugal. Jogi Low opted to start Mario Gomez and Mats Hummels ahead of Miroslav Klose and Per Mertesacker. Gomez was rather quiet and accused of laziness by some, but he is capable of pulling a goal from nowhere and his header into the far corner of Rui Patricio’s net was inch-perfect. Boateng started at right-back and performed well against Cristiano Ronaldo, who yet again failed to play at his best on the top stage.
Germany of course went with their 4-3-2-1 Portugal’s deep-lying midfield, with Miguel Veloso tracking Özil, did well spreading the play out to Nani and Ronaldo on the wings. Lahm and Boateng, however, very rarely pushed forward with their average positions behind the half-way line. This stopped Nani and Ronaldo getting in behind where they are most threatening. Boateng was excellent at staying tight to Ronaldo and very rarely let him get turned maybe 2 times. His only tackle came when Ronaldo had drifted away from him and it was an inch perfect last-ditch tackle. Germany were also helped by the ineffective Helder Postiga who only had 1 shot and completed 10/17 passes, 7 of which were backwards. Portugal looked much more dangerous when Nelson Oliveira came on and carved open Germany’s defence a few times and this could be something they need to change if they want to challenge in this group.
Mats Hummels justified Low’s gamble on him with a commanding performance. With 2/2 tackles completed, 6 interceptions, 6 headed clearances, 7 clearances and 2/2 aerial duels and the most passes completed with 64, the man from Dortmund was man of the match by a good distance. Portugal did a good job of rarely allowing him forward, but he still managed to complete 7 passes into the final third, one of which led to Khedira’s cross for the goal. Along with Badstuber, Hummels was the most influential player on the pitch for Germany and it will be interesting to see if he continues to partner Badstuber, but judging by that performance he fully deserves to.
Portugal started with 3 midfielders who like to sit deep; Veloso, Moutinho and Meireles. Khedira and Schweinsteiger were nullified very well by the latter two, with Veloso struggling to track Özil’s movement and the Real Madrid man finished with a 90% passing accuracy and created 4 chances. The diagram to the side gives a great example of Özil’s movement, rarely acting through the centre and favoring link-up play with Podolski and Müller. Germany will need to get whoever sits behind Özil more involved however and maybe Kroos could add something different to Khedira.
With Germany forced wide, Müller had a good game on the right, showing off his excellent crossing ability rather than threatening the goal. He created 2 chances and attempted 7 crosses, but Gomez was unable to get on the end of all but 1. Podolski looked to cut in from the left and managed 4 shots with one testing Rui Patricio. Despite completing 14/17 passes in the final third, Podolski was rather disappointing and maybe Reus or Schürrle could have tested Pereira more. As noted in the preview, Podolski looks lost playing with a striker like Gomez and his game was obviously hampered by the lack of movement ahead of him.
Gomez proved the right option as Portugal played deep and he is more of a goal-threat than Klose at the moment. He was ineffective for the rest of the match however and Low was about to take him off before he scored. Gomez got 3 shots inside the penalty area and 2 were on target. Aside from that, he only completed 9 passes the entire game and cut a frustrated figure, making 5 fouls. Low may go for Klose in the next match against Holland as they are unlikely to sit deep and may be subsceptible to a lightning quick counter-attack. Mehmet Scholl made an excellent point when he said “He [Gomez] has to be more involved in the game. The question is how long can a team tolerate his style. It’s not enough to stand upfront and wait for the ball in today’s game.”
Portugal had only started to open up when Germany grabbed their goal and will be disappointed they weren’t able to snatch at least a draw. Hummels and Badstuber were tested in the final 10 minutes, but it will be interesting how they fare against a better striker who actually receives the ball such as Van Persie. Hopefully Lahm and Podolski can perform better on the left flank and a win would all but ensure qualification from the Group of Death.
All stats courtesy of the FourFourTwo Stats Zone App.