I am doing a u-turn on Germany. I am now of the opinion that Germany’s performance against Poland was an aberration and they are not really that good.
A Michael Ballack free kick (the only well taken free kick of the tournament so far) was the only difference between 92nd rank Austria and top-10 Germany. Otherwise, the Austran’s matched the German’s in attack and defence throughout the game. Both sides were guilty of spells of poor passing and messing up chances to score. From a neutral’s view, an unspectacular game but cheers to the Austrian’s for holding their own.
Gomez didn’t waste time at the start to easily leave the Austrian defence behind and get into great positions. He even was fed the ball at his feet with an open goal inviting by Klose but shot over. All that was in the first 10 minutes. After that maybe he chickened out of getting into good positions not trusting his finishing abilities and had little impact till his substitution at the hour mark.
Frings and Fritz were horrible! Nothing positive can be written about their performance.
Podolski looked the sharpest and maybe he should line up next to or just behind Klose instead of somewhere on the flank. He spends most of his time in the centre anyway and because of his mid-field duties was even found covering up at right back.
Klose had a decent game in terms of troubling the defence and creating opportunities for others but looked like an Austrian striker when presented with chances to score.
Ballack – decent, failed to get any defence splitting passes in but covered up with the spectacular penalty.
Which brings us to the weakest link in the German line-up – their defence. That in spite of a non-existent midfield, the defence was what looked the worst is a major problem for Germany. The full-backs are ok, especially Lahm when he pushes forward, but they do seem to allow the opposition a free run to the by-line, maybe hoping that the tall centre-backs will easily handle all crosses. Which Mertesacker and Metzelder may well do, but it looks like that is the only thing that they would do well.
Mertsesacker especially was woeful. Easily beaten by attackers he was trying to close down (much like Frings and Fritz) and culpable of mega blunders allowing the Austrians to run through on goal. Against a better strike force, he would have been finished. Metzelder was better, but only partially. He did look much more comfortable taking the ball forward through the middle however.
Joachim Low (who along with Hickersberger was sent off to the stands around the 40th minute) fails to inspire. Especially shocking was the failure to replace Frings and/or Fritz. They might still be the first choice but one would expect the Germans to have quality replacements if they are not firing.
For Austria, Korkmaz and Hoffer both looked good but they showed an amazing reluctance to shoot. Lehman was not tested at all even though the Austrian’s got into the German box almost as often as the German got into their’s. They were very bright and showed good movement and attacking flair throughout their stay and may have done better if they could score. They have however clearly shown that the top 100 is much more competitive than 100-150. Think Austria would beat India (aprox. 150 rank) by seven nil but that should be a subject for some other day.
Back to Germany again – I think they will find it really difficult to beat Portugal. The mid-field and attack may get back into form and have a good day but I don’t see the central defenders being able to stop attackers running into them with the ball at their feet. And with Ronaldo and company, we should expect a lot of that to happen. Think the sight of the 2 M’s on their knees beaten by a dribbling Portuguese player will be a common sight in the quarter final.