Germany out as Deschamps's unusual luck combined with Löw's strange decisions
by Arda Alan Işık
ISTANBULJul 09, 2016 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Arda Alan Işık
Jul 09, 2016 12:00 am
A classic saying in Turkish football very well explains the early final between Germany and France; if this game had been played 50 times, France would have won just once. Throughout the game, especially in the first half, the German presence in the game totally destroyed Didier Deschamps' creative game against Iceland. The timing of the penalty, which was the result of a corner kick that lead Germany into panic, gave even more defensive enthusiasm to France. The breaking sequence of the game was the beginning of the second half and German coach Joachim Löw insisted on the same tactics, which were easily defended by the French, making the game more fragile for his team. As a result, despite Germany's inability to create decisive opportunities, Deschamps and his team had to accept that they were also incapable of dominating the game and ensuring that victory would have still come if Germany had responded.
Firstly, Bastian Schweinsteiger seems to have lost his agility and strength since he has been at Manchester United. He could not fill the crucial hole left by Sami Khedira, who was responsible of sweeping up the space between the defense and Toni Kroos. Still, Löw let his midfield suffer Schweinsteiger's slow play and they lacked the pace of Khedira when the French tried to play counter-attacks. Emre Can, who were noticeably fitter than Schweinsteiger should not have been the one who was sacrificed to bring Mario Götze onto the wings. Götze was the right choice given Germany's strategy was dull when the ball went out to wings, but leaving old Schweinsteiger alone in the midfield turned out to be catastrophic.
Secondly, although I admired Löw's strategy in the first half, which was putting attention on the left wing by sending long balls to left back Jonas Hector, in order to create space on the ring wing where Mesut Özil and Joshua Kimmich sneaked in for sudden switch passes. Nevertheless, Löw's plan didn't move as quickly as he would have hoped and the French defended the slow crosses and through balls easily, forcing Löw to use dribblers to create the opportunities from the wings. Of course, he can be criticized for not changing the focus from the wings to the middle, but at that point I respect the coach's pre-planned strategy. The critical issue was that he insisted on the same dull wing-based tactics until Germany had already started to panic and lose control. He should have turned to Götze earlier and taken Schweinsteiger off before France started to find spaces in dangerous areas.
On the other hand, Deschamps and his team successfully managed to not leave any valuable space and time around their penalty box to Germany. Even though their defensive style naturally needed Leicester City's wonder boy N'golo Kante in front of the penalty box, Blaise Matuidi also did a nice job in defending his area. Nevertheless, the French could not create as many counter-attacks as they wanted to and when the game was not chaotic in the first half they conceded to Germany's dominant game. The penalty came probably in the best moment for France and it saved Deschamps from both their responsibility to create opportunities and intensified Germany's domination even more. If the teams had gone to the dressing rooms with a draw, Germany would have had a better chance of positioning the game in the French penalty box and scoring.
To sum up, Shkodran Mustafi's and Manuel Neuer's collective mistake signaled the mental breakdown of the German national team and they missed clear opportunities that were unacceptable for a team like them. Maybe the best way to describe the game is to say that Germany did not deserve to win the game because of their dullness in offense and the obvious mistakes in defense. Still, Germany played a more rational and organized game than France, they just did not have the individuals to carry it out.