The world champions were not at the best but were victorious nonetheless…
On a day when it was all about keeping the nerves and fighting everything that’s thrown at you, Germany’s youngsters proved their mettle and clinched the Confederations Cup title with a very astute display of football against Chile.
Germany, who started the campaign with a squad full of 21-22-year-old youngsters had the onus to take another major silverware and show how strong and how well prepared the world champions are in the absence of their superstars.
Chile started the game as vociferously as they were singing their national anthem. Lining up in a 4-3-3 formation with a false 9 and Arturo Vidal dropping deep to make the play. Alexis Sanchez and Eduardo Vargas were the two linchpins upfront. They caused the German defense all sorts of problems at the start of the game with their relentless pressing.
With a very high line and both full-backs pushed further up the field to provide width and options higher up, Marcelo Diaz and Pedro Hernandez were dropping deep into midfield to cover the defense. Their high press did not allow Germany to play their natural game and play out from the back. The Germans then had to resort to playing long balls to Timo Werner for him to make something out of nothing.
Germany started with their usual and flexible 3-4-3 formation with Matthias Ginter, Shkodran Mustafi and Antonio Rudiger in defense. At the start of the game, they were put under persistent pressure from Chile’s midfield press and they had to play very resolutely to keep the defense tight. Mauricio Isla and Jean Beausejour marched further up the pitch, allowing Vargas and Sanchez to cut in and with Vidal pulling the strings the Chileans created ample great opportunities only to squander them.
Chile were worn down by efficient Germany
20 minutes into the game, Chile were running all over Germany, piling up the pressure on the Nationalelf youngsters. But a mistake from La Roja centre-back Diaz allowed the ball into the feet of Timo Werner on the edge of the Chilean penalty box and the RB Leipzig youngster squared a pass for Lars Stindl to tap into the open net and give Germany the lead against the run of play. Chile were behind but they still were pressing high and pressing hard, both Vargas and Sanchez were making runs in between the German defense and were continuously fed by Vidal.
But now that Joachim Loew’s team had a cushion, Werner’s wheels were unleashed and they grew more comfortable in the game. Joshua Kimmich and Jonas Hector gradually started to come out of their shells and now were making runs with the ball on the flanks as well as feeding Julian Draxler and Co. in an effort to pose some threat to the Chilean defense so as to push the Copa America champions back and neutralize their high press. As both Diaz and Hernandez were dropping deeper into the midfield, it allowed Leon Goretzka and Sebastian Rudy to take control of the midfield and not allow the Chileans to pass through them like they did in the first half.
With some tireless pressing during the first quarter of the game, creating chances but not being able to take advantage of them and then lagging behind due to their own mistake, Chile’s aging legs started to tire and the Nationalelf grew more resilient.
In the second half Loew set up his team to counter any threat from Chile and his youngsters did an excellent job at that, composing themselves after a shaky start and being solid at the back. The Chileans on the other hand., had burned all their firepower by the last quarter of the game and weren’t able to pose any threat to the German defense who cruised to victory comfortably.
Chile can look back at another commendable performance at a major tournament. For the reigning world champions though, this was an opportunity to experiment with their options ahead of next year’s World Cup and based on the gulf in class seen between the Europeans and the rest, Loew can bask in the embarrassment of riches he has at his disposal. For, if this tournament has shown anything, it is that while the pretenders and contenders to their throne maybe many, Germany still remain the team to beat.