The two teams played out a cagey draw in a Group B match at the Confederations Cup…
Germany’s meeting with Chile was always billed to be the game in Group B at the 2017 Confederations Cup and while not full of goals, the match was a fascinating study in how this young German side is maturing beyond its years.
Chile were fastest off the mark playing in their typical all-action, hustle-bustle style of play and took the lead through talisman Alexis Sanchez in as early as six minutes. Back then, it seemed as those the Chileans would run rampant in this battle of the World and South American champions. But, that’s not how the game panned out. Such was the measure of Chile’s early dominance, that in the first 35 minutes of the game, the European heavyweights could only muster two touches of the ball in Chile’s 18-yard box, besides seeing Eduardo Vargas’ shot rattling the crossbar.
However, Germany rode through the early pressure from their sprightly opponents and equalised through a rapid counter-attack led by Emre Can and finished by the impressive Lars Stindl in the 41st minute. Sanchez’s early goal, a direct result of a mistake by Arsenal teammate Shkodran Mustafi, looked to have taken Joachim Loew’s men by surprise. Back on level terms, they were not to be caught off guard again.
The second half was a different story as Loew’s apprentices set about plugging the holes of the first 45. A key part of this strategy was to neutralise the influence of Vargas and Sanchez, who are instrumental to Chile’s potency in attack. The team shifted to a compact 3-4-3 with Stindl as the False No.9. The back three were more tightly knit, closing down the spaces in between the lines.
Another protagonist for shifting the balance of the game was Bayern Munich-bound Sebastian Rudy. The combative midfielder was tasked with disrupting the flow in midfield which prevented Chile from playing with the dynamism and tempo that makes them tick. Loew also made sure the deceptively elusive Arturo Vidal was now a marked man in both open-play and on set-pieces.
With their three figureheads now on the periphery of the game, the Chileans were visibly knocked off their stride and Die Mannschaft would do what they do best, keep the ball. This meant the game was slowed down to walking pace with the world champions dictating the play, in what was now a battle of wits like that in a game of chess.
As the game wore on both sides looked more and more content with a point, obviously motivated by future battles, likely of far greater importance. But, above all, this was a clash between two teams not often used to losing and so they settled for a point.
For Chile, a point against the world champions in a game in which they more than held their own is another indicator of the strides Juan Antonio Pizzi’s men continue to make. On the other hand, for German tactician Loew, this tournament is admittedly a testing ground in preparation for next summer’s big prize. With that in mind, he will take great confidence from his team’s adaptability, both mental and tactical as well as the manner of their response to trailing against a team like Chile, who themselves are exemplary front-runners.
This was a different Germany. Not at their fluent best in the attack, but equally effective and still incredibly hard to beat. Youth no bar, they still remain the team to beat in world football.