Last night’s last 16 World Cup clash between Germany and Algeria had a familiar theme to it.
The underdog pushed the favourites all the way to extra-time, before suffering a 2-1 defeat.
However, it was hard not to feel sorry for the Algerians at the end of the game.
The Africans gave Germany a mighty fright. In fact in the first half Germany were lucky not to concede the opening goal. Algeria just lacked that ruthless killer instinct in-bred into some of the world’s top teams and players.
Their players panicked in front of goal at times, when more experienced or better quality players may well have punished the Germans for very poor defending.
However, Algeria really cannot be criticised as they played some great football, out-fought Germany at times and really did worry their European opponents. The African team were expected to show up and be beaten sounded, but they obviously had not read the script.
This was expected to be one of the most one-sided of the last 16 ties, but in truth the Algerians gave as good as they got until Germany eventually wore them down in extra-time through goals from substitute Andre Schurrle and Mesut Ozil.
The German defence looked very shaky against Algeria. The number of times that Algeria got behind the Germany backline must be a worry for their boss Joachim Low and their fans as well.
Low’s team started the game with four centre-backs playing at the back and at times it showed. Everybody knows that Arsenal centre-back Per Mertesacker lacks pace and he was exposed a number of times.
However, the Arsenal star cannot take all the blame. Bayern Munich’s Jerome Boateng has more pace than Mertesacker, but also looked slightly vulnerable. Usually if centre-backs are exposed their full-backs cover their teammates.
Germany’s full-backs Mustafi and Howedes were given the license to raid forward, with the likes of Phillip Lahm and Bastian Schweinsteiger covering in front. Despite the supposed protection to the back four, Germany struggled to stop Algeria creating chances.
Had Algeria took their chances, or Germany was playing an opposition with more clinical forwards then they could have been in major trouble by half-time.
Every team seems have a weakness and the current Germany teams weakness is at the back. This could prove a problem in the latter stages of the competition.
The Germany defence was bailed out by keeper Manuel Neuer on numerous occasions, although he made one error of judgement, which he atoned for. Neuer is the ultimate sweeper keeper. Rather than being re-active, he is pro-active.
The Bayern Munich stopper must give fans heart palpations at times, but he is decisive at coming out of his goal and clearing his lines.
Thomas Muller has enjoyed a superb tournament and had a good game against Algeria, despite missing two golden opportunities. The Bayern Munich forward is always on the move and created Germany’s opening goal for Schurrle early in the first period of extra-time.
Muller is vastly underrated and is fast becoming one of the most dangerous attacking players at the World Cup. The 24-year-old now has four goals and two assists to his name at the World Cup and there could be more to come from the versatile star.
Germany had 29 shots on goal, with 22 on target, but found the net just twice. Not many of the teams left in the competition will give the Germans that many chances in the latter stages, so Germany have to be more clinical in front of goal to be successful in Brazil.
Germany is one of the favourites to win the World Cup, but will face a testing quarter-final encounter with fellow European heavyweights France. Les Bleus have been impressive in spells during the tournament and are likely to cause Low’s team problems.
Germany has a good chance of winning the World Cup for the first time in 24 years. However, they will have to produce a far better performance to go all the way in Brazil.
Does Germany have enough quality to win the World Cup?