Analysis: Clinical Germans break Danish hearts
- By Nidhun Thankachan
Story Dated: Thursday, June 21, 2012 8:2 hrs IST
L’viv (Ukraine): The final set of games in the group of death provided great entertainment to the neutrals but saw pre tournament favourites Netherlands crash out along with an entertaining Denmark team. The irrepressible Germans were uncompromising and brutally efficient in L’viv, despatching the Danes with a 2-1 victory when all they needed was a point to ensure a top of the group finish. Cristiano Ronaldo’s 2 goals ensured Portugal’s qualification into the next round, as they won 2-1 against the Netherlands.
Martin Olsen sent out a very attack minded team for this game, with a 4-3-3 system. Jacob Poulsen started in place of Dennis Rommedahl in an otherwise unchanged team from the game against Portugal. They went in with a three up front in the form of Nicklas Bendtner, Christian Eriksen and Michael Krohn-Deli.
Germany is clearly the best team in the tournament and Joachim Low is a manager who believes sending out the same starting line up game after game is critical in building team chemistry. And as expected there were no changes in the Die Mannschaft team except for the one enforced change due to Jerome Boateng’s suspension. Lars Bender of Bayer Leverkusen came in as his replacement at right back.
How it panned out
The Germans play a very flexible system composed of a rough 4-2-3-1 formation. Muller and Podolski provide width with Ozil having the freedom to move about midfield to orchestrate play. But unlike other teams, Germany aren’t over-reliant on their playmaker Ozil as they have a handful of other players who can provide creative impetus to the team. Although Gomez has grabbed all the headlines, its been Ozil and Bastian Schweinsteiger who have been the best players for Germany, with the latter having provided both the assists in Gomez’s two goals in the previous game against Netherlands.
Germany started where the left off and were on the attack as soon as the game began, with Muller wasting a good chances early on. Denmark saw plenty of the ball, but couldn’t penetrate the German defence as Low’s side pressed high up the pitch. The Danes were giving Germany too much respect, retreating when they have the ball, which only ensured that Germany come forward in numbers. Sustained pressure saw Germany go into the lead in the 19th minute, with Podolski scoring in his 100th game for his country. Muller’s cut back from the right was missed by Gomez, but an onrushing Podolski slotted the ball home.
Denmark had to win to ensure qualification, and went on the attack in search of the equaliser. It came in the 24th minute, off a corner, with Michael Krohn-Deli scoring after Bendtner had headed the ball towards the goal. Low was visibly upset and barked out instructions, driving his men forward after the goal. Denmark was losing possession, with Olsen surprisingly sending out Christian Eriksen on the right flank instead of the middle, where he normally plays as playmaker.
His replacement in the middle, Jacob Poulsen was having a terrible game under the close attentions of Sami Khedira, with the Real Madrid man taking the ball away from him on a consistent basis. A fierce Podolski drive skimmed off the crossbar in the 37th minute, as Germany threw more and more men forward. Denmark held on till half time with Gomez wasted a good opportunity to score in the 45th minute. Inside the Denmark area, he took a touch to get a clean strike on goal; the touch though, was too strong, and ended up in the hands of Andersen.
Denmark looked much better in the second half, with Simon Poulsen bombing forward down the left side on every occasion. Danish defenders were tighter on the Germans and did not allow them much room in the area. Mesut Ozil was having a tough time finding room in midfield, and Low brought in Andre Schurrle in place of Podolski to assist him in the center of the pitch. It was the Danes however who needed to score to ensure qualification and although they had possession, they were unable to create any clear goal scoring opportunities.
They started shooting from outside the box, with Zimling’s shot tipped over by Neuer in the 71st minute. Bendtner did not get proper service up front as the Danes lacked creativity in midfield. Germany punished them for it as Lars Bender scored his first International goal in the 80th minute. It came off a swift counter, with Ozils through ball to substitute Klose missing its intended target, but the right back on hand to lash it home.
Denmark players were visibly shaken after going behind as Olsen brought in Tobial Mikkelson in search of an unlikely victory. News that Portugal were 2-1 up against Netherlands in the other concurrent group game came through and Denmark had to win to go through. Germany were unrelenting however, and professionally saw off their opponents to finish top of the ‘Group of Death’
Olsen’s decision to go with Christian Eriksen on the right backfired. Not only was the Ajax Amsterdam invisible in the game, his replacement in the middle, Jacob Poulsen also had a terrible game. Bendtner and Krohn-Deli looked sharp, but apart from the lone forays of Simon Poulsen, lacked support from the rest of the team.
Denmark needs to nurture better midfielders for the future as their forward line seems secure with the mercurial Bendtner being only 24. 20 year old Bashkim Kadrii of Odense Boldklub is one such midfielder who Olsen can develop into a playmaker, with Denmark continuing to produce quality strikers in Tobias Mikkelson and Kaiserslautern’s Nicolai Jorgenson.
With that said, Denmark is not a bad team by any stretch of the imagination and are unlucky not to qualify. They had finished ahead of Portugal in qualification but Paulo Bento’s men had the last laugh in the end. In Daniel Agger, they have an inspiring captain and given an easier group, Denmark could well make its mark in the 2014 world cup
Germany were professional in this game but displayed some weaknesses. Lars Bender had a good game, but they clearly need Jerome Boateng back.
The absence of the 6 foot 4 inch Bayern Munich man meant Germany had very little height at the back, and they suffered for it, conceding on a corner. Set pieces could well turn out to be Germany’s Achilles heel. Agger demonstrated that good marking can tie town Mario Gomez, something that the other teams might have taken notice off. But the fact that the German team is not about individuals but the collective effort remains and even if a good defence is able to tie down two or three players the Die Mannshaft have enough options, a flexible playing style and most importantly a winning mentality ingrained in them.
Germany: 1-Neuer, 16-Lahm, 5-Hummels, 14-Badstuber, 15-Bender, 10-Podolski (64th- 9-Schurrle), 6-Khedira, 7-Schweinsteiger, 8-Ozil, 13-Muller (84th- 18-Kroos), 23-Gomez (74th- 11-Klose)
Denmark: 1-Andersen, 6-Jacobsen, 4-Agger, 3-Kjaer, 5-S. Poulsen, 8-Eriksen, 7-Kvist, 21-Zimling (79th- 2-C.Poulsen), 19-J.Poulsen (82nd- 23-Mikkelsen), 9- Krohn-Deli, 11-Bendtner