Germany’s forward movement puts Australia in a defensive block

Germany’s central quartet, inspired by Mesut Özil tore apart Australia’s square defence by exhibiting great movement.
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Germany 4-0 Australia: Podolski 8, Klose 26, Muller 67, Cacau 70

For meticulous planning, look no forward than Germany. Despite the injury to Michael Ballack pre-tournament and the youngest squad they have ever taken to the World Cup (average age 24.7), the Germans were very much at ease. Indeed much praise should go to Joachim Löw and his support staff for making what seemed like a fair match-up beforehand look like a relative walk in the park.

Defensive Block

The most immediate difference came with the two shapes of the sides. With Germany set up in a 4-2-3-1 and Australia most resembling a 4-5-1, the idea for both teams in the defensive phase was to remain compact but the execution was everything but similar. Continuing on from Jürgen Klinsmann’s more forward thinking focus in 2006, Löw – looking like an older character from One Tree Hill – sought his side to press with intensity. Australia in contrast, dropped back into their own half and looked to keep the distances between each band – midfield and attack, midfield and defence – very short. That, however, was ultimately their downfall.

Mesut Özil and Klose were constantly able to interchange positions “between the lines” and drag opposing defenders out of position. Australia’s problem was they tried to move as a unit – looking to replicate to some degree Arrigo Sacchi’s AC Milan side of the late eighties – but were caught out by Germany’s movement. Indeed, Germany are playing very much with four forwards, the two wide men usually play up front but did a fantastic dual role, while Bastian Schweinsteiger and Sami Khedira performed what the Germans call the “double six” as opposed to one typical deployed by many teams (England come to mind). That means, in the defensive phase, the wingers look to force the opposing wingers inside into the congested area in the centre which they hope will be manned by a double shield all at a high intensity. (Just ask yourself how many often the Australian wingers were allowed to take on Lahm and Badstuber?)

Mental preparation is the area Louis van Gaal sees as the greatest avenue for potential in modern football and in that respect, Löw and his team have done a great job instilling a mentality and discipline into even the attacking players. “We have yet to tap the full potential of the mental aspect of the game,” says the Bayern coach. “Mental preparation, visualisation and imagination offer the best chance for change.”

Superior Movement

Germany’s movement was fantastic throughout and in Özil, displayed just how to play the playmaker role in contemporary football. For the first goal, the Werder Bremen schemer moved wide to support the man in possession and of which created the gap in the centre. Muller’s cross evaded Mirolslav Klose at the near post but the advantage of playing a striker on the wing was made apparent with Lucasz Podolski arriving at the back post to hammer in. He remained ambiguous throughout thereby making it difficult to mark and constantly exchanged positions with Klose throughout. Muller’s performance on the right was another pleasant surprise as his dribbling skills provided much of Germany’s dynamism along with Lahm’s late strong running.

But while Özil gets much of the plaudits for Germany’s attacking play much credited must go to Schweinsteiger who kept them ticking and his speed of passing garnered many fouls, including that of which led to Tim Cahill’s dismissal. Micheal Ballack’s shadow still hangs over Schweinsteiger’s midfield partner Khedira, who although having a industrious game and being able to replicate the nation’s talismanic captain driving runs, question marks will obviously remain about his defensive acumen. If England play Gemrany in the second round or quarter finals, will he be able to track the midfield runners?

But in a tournament which has been very much about defensive blocks and compactness, it has been little Özil and Germany with their movement, who have been first to be able to break from the studious tactics.

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12 thoughts on “Germany’s forward movement puts Australia in a defensive block

  1. Great analysis brain.i thought germany’s double pivot of kedira and shweinsteiger allowed germany’s creative players freedom to create.during their domination khedira had the licence to make driving runs from deep which were very difficult to track causing alot of havoc.it was also interesting to note that while in defence the germans played a 4-4-2/4-4-1-1 which made it difficult for the aussies to break through.the aussies pressure often left oezil in acres of spaces in between the lines to devastating effect.good work brain.

    1. – Yes, that’s very true. The double pivot, or as Germany call it in the defensive phase, the “double six” were great at blocking Australia’s attacks and circulated the ball quickly. I believe it is more effective to make late runs from deeper so was pleasantly surprised by Khedira’s drive from central midfield.

      – It seems also teams are not playing so much in bands – the distinction is the name of their roles in attack – but when in defence, it is about getting compact and in a line. Surely that will allow the attacking midfielder to revel?

      – Then again France’s asymmetry against Urugauy in central midfield didn’t give them an advantage as that essentially stripped them of direct confrontation with one of the opponents central midfielder. i.e. Diaby played towards the left while the Uruguay players played more rigidly in a line.

  2. The German coaching preparation squad have done a great job on their front two- Klose and Podalski looked unrecognisable from their club form. I know it was Australia- who are not moving well as a team- but Germany looked very sharp. Ozil looks an Arsenal player to me. I like him a lot.

  3. I also find oezil quite similar to wilshere.we played a 4-2-3-1 vs porto in cesc’s absence and we were excellent.i find it the most balanced formation especially with the right personell.oezil may have caught the eye but i think the mueller-lahm axis was a huge factor in their impressive perfomance.lahm was able to push forward which allowed mueller freedom to drift inside almost as a second striker role leading to him,klose and oezil to form impressive triangles baffling the aussies.due to this the aussies being pulled right,podolski was left free as shown by first goal.

  4. Not sure you can say it was a fair match up at the start, Germany have only lost twice in the last two World Cups, in the semi final and the final, Australia have only ever won 1 world cup game, the result was never in doubt.

    Loew and his technical team continue to do very good work, they prepare for every game with meticulous preparation, their chief scout Urs Siegenthaler tells Loew on every single possibility of the opponent,hence you very rarely see Germany being out-gunned tactically in the last 5 years. Everything from how the keeper must act as a sweeper, to the minute spacing between the two wide players, Germany prepare and work on it, it should not come as a surprise to anyone they are this good, they have held all UEFA youth titles in the last 3 years.

    As for the playing style, Australia dug their own grave in a 4-5-1 with no striker, Germany have also devised a style that will always provide opportunities and options, even without Ozil, they could deploy Kroos/Marin to lead the team.

    I do think this is a big myth that England could match Germany at the present, England have probably better players, Germany have better team players, and that is the difference, no individual ever wins a title, teams win them.

    In a World Cup, tactics are important, psychology and history are crucial as well, Germany have reached 7 finals and won 3 titles, that stat is something not every country can do.

    1. I think you are slightly picking on bones there; by fair I meant competitive. And how much emphasis can you place on a tournament that happened 4 years ago and especially as the article and you say they are a young team.

      There is no underestimating Germany here – Low has drilled a fantastic defensive and offensive discipline but if there is one area opponents and indeed England can target it is the tactical awareness of Khedira. Low did also admit Germany were pushed deep a bit too much which he wants to correct.

  5. I find it funny that fans underestimate the germans,they are quite good.some of their players last night were part of the u-21 team that won the uefa tournament last summer where they played england off the park.the new generation of german players is quite good and i expect them to be serious challengers especially the euro012 and wc014.

  6. The Germany game stood out of the first three days of World Cup for a few reasons. One, it was the so far highest scoring game. Second it was the Germans, whom this time round no one really thought as title challengers, myself and c. 80 Million Germans included but who played not in their typical German of plucking in and grinding out results. The team might not be the best as Ballack is missing due to injury and the squad has hardly been tested against valuable opposition, only against Argentina in spring.

    Löw is doing what Ramsey did for England in 66: He has a team in mind, a blend, that might not consist of eleven world class players, but a group of players who play a team. Thus, the lack of Ballack and some experience is levelled by tactical awareness and a typical German never-give-up-attitude. Not that i think that Germany will win this tournament, far from it, but it is a similar situation for Löw now as it was for Ramsey in 1966.

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