As the group stage comes to an end with two teams from each remaining in Brazil and the rest heading back home, we at Outside of the Boot have analysed each group, paying focus to four key aspects — the primary tactical system that was noticeably successful, the individual game changing performance that decided which way a result went, the most consistent and best young player across the three games (Talent Radar) with the players qualifying no more than 22-years-old and an XI of the best players from the group.
All the talk coming into this group was about the potential Germany – USA clash where two close friends would go head-to-head. As we’ve seen, both Jurgen Klinsmann and Joachim Low have progressed to the next round while Portgual disappointingly are out while Ghana did impress many viewers only to be outdone by some last minute clashes in the squad. While much was being said about Klose beating Ronaldo’s World Cup record, another German star in Thomas Muller is actually not that far from it, though this World Cup is probably a bit too early.
Key Tactical System
The biggest tactical trend/innovation/system that caught my attention was Jurgen Klinsmann’s use of the midfield which was changed in all three games, obviously successfully in two. Against Ghana, Klinsmann played a midfield diamond with Jones and Bedoya on either side of a deep Beckerman. This worked excellently in combating Ghana’s use of the wings. For the Portugal game the German coach opted to nullify the Portuguese threat in midfield by effectively putting five in there and preventing any space in between the lines.
Of both those systems, the midfield diamond was particularly impressive as it is an approach that can so easily be taken advantage of. But given the opposition, Klinsmann clearly studied his opponents well and realised the need to control that wide area. The Africans struggled for large parts though seeing a lot of the ball as their main attacking avenue was completely cut-out. If there was any doubt about Klinsmann, his tactical intelligence and decision making, it’s all been overcome now.
No doubt who gets the plaudits here, Thomas Muller and his hat-trick in the opening game of this group against Portugal certainly deserves recognition. One from the spot and two typical Muller goals, the Bayern Munich man looks set to retain his World Cup golden boot award, though faced by much bigger competition now. His second against the Portuguese was certainly of note, he anticipated the defenders clearance and looked to get a block in, while many would have let the chance pass. He may not know how to celebrate, but he certainly can score goals.
Not as out-right as the previous one but Germany’s Mario Gotze would have to be considered the stand-out young player from the group. He has a surprisingly vital role in an impressive German side. His attacking contribution was evident against the Portuguese, but it was his defensive game against Ghana that really showed what type of a footballer Gotze can be or already is. We’ve analysed his performance vs Ghana here, paying attention to the defensive side of his game, while you can read a more detailed Scout Report on him here. Gotze was also listed in our Talent Radar list of 25 Young Players to Watch at the World Cup.
Players in red are Talent Radar youngsters
Read all our World Cup 2014 content here
Co-founder and Chief Editor here. Obsessed with tactics. Keen follower of young players. Creator of #TalentRadar. Appeared in A Football Report's list of "Best in Football Writing 2012".
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