Reigning World Champions Germany kicked off 2015 with a friendly against Asian Champions Australia followed by a EURO 2016 qualifier against Georgia, providing Joachim L w with the perfect opportunity to try something new, as well as establish the foundation of the team.
Following a poor qualifying campaign so far, a 2-2 draw at home to Australia did not exactly give them the start they wanted, but a return to usual business courtesy of a comfortable 2-0 win away at Georgia meant that there was no need to ring the alarm bells yet. Marco Reus (x2), Lukas Podolski and Thomas MA?ller were the goal scorers, although the Germans should have managed a few more following a wasteful second half at Georgia.
Here are a few observations from last weeka s games in Kaiserslautern and Tbilisi:
L w has found the perfect central defensive pairing
Joachim L w has always struggled with the dilemma of which of the central defenders should get the nod over the others. Present ever since 2012 and even during the successful World Cup campaign, the problem seems to finally have a solution. Jerome Boateng and Mats Hummels, perhaps the best two defenders in the Bundesliga, have developed a perfect understanding between them.
In the Australia friendly, the returning Holger Badstuber partnered the versatile Benedikt H wedes in defence, and although both were confident in the tackle,they lacked the pace and possession play to stamp Germanya s superiority on the game. Beaten often by Matthew Leckie and Australiaa s speed on the counter, the Bundesliga stars left much to be desired. H wedes may be a very industrious player worthy of a starting role, but the quality of his alternatives could see him miss out from mailing down a starting berth.
Against Georgia, who did manage to trouble the backline on occasion, Boatenga s pacy surges from defence unnerved the opposition frequently. Along with Hummelsa steady composure on the ball and leadership, the duo have perfectly covered the broad spectrum of defending, be it one-on-one situations, aerial duels or launching the odd ball forward. Additionally, with Schweinsteiger ready to drop back to accommodate the attacking tendencies of both defenders, the partnership looked unbreakable.
Tougher opposition will provide sterner tests, but given the capabilities of both the defenders, it looks to be one less problem for Low.
Marco Reus has won his place back
Marco Reus was arguably Germanya s best player in both matches, in which he scored twice, hit the crossbar twice more and proved to be nuisance for the opposition continuously. Injuries have left Reusa impact on the national team very minimal and until now, we have never seen him replicate his club level performances on the international stage. However, now that he has gotten past his injury concerns, the team looks ready to be built around him. An attacking all-rounder, Reusa constant positional interchange with Mesut Ozil, Mario Gotze and Thomas Muller allowed him to create all sorts of problems against Georgia on Sunday. His trickery, space-finding tendency and willingness to shoot readily provide the German attack with another dimension a one that was sorely lacking until now.
Are too many midfield cooks spoiling the broth?
Bastian Schwesinteger, Toni Kroos, Sami Khedira, Ilkay GA?ndogan, Christoph Kramer and Lars Bender are all the potential German midfielders worthy of a starting role in the German XI. Any team boasting of such options is surely spoilt for choice. GA?ndogan and Khedira featured in Kaiserslautern, and both went on with their usual work a Khedira acting bullish on the ball and Gundogan pinging in some neat passes. Kroos and Schweinsteiger had an easier time at Georgia a recycling and maintaining possession with ease.
However, after the performances last week, this apparent a choicea is a problem. All four were exposed in a very similar fashion during opposition counter attacks – Lack of mobility and poor transitioning from possession play did not prove to be costly, but nevertheless signal that some work is needed in this regard. With the exception of Bender, the presence of no other ball winning midfielder in the squad is an Achilles heel for Germany. While this may be a problem that is a not a problema currently, there may be a time when L w realizes that a bit more variety in midfield will not go amiss.