With two breath-taking clashes to look forward to in the semi-finals of the World Cup, we at Outside of the Boot take a look at how the sides have set-up tactically so far.
With the recent domination of German football at club level, Germany were marked as favorites in this World Cup. With a highly talented squad, Low was expected to recreate the incisive and dominant football that Germany were known for. Questions have loomed about where Lahm would start for Germany, how they could deal with the scarcity of out an out strikers and the soft spots in the wider areas of defense. Big things are expected from this German squad and here is how they have lined up so far in this tournament.
Germany 4-0 Portugal
Starting Line Up: Neuer, Höwedes, Hummels (Mustafi 73’), Mertesacker, Boateng, Lahm, Kroos, Khedira, Götze, Ozil (Shürrle 63′), Müller (Podolski ’82).
Detailed Tactical Analysis: Germany 4-0 Portugal
Formations: Germany vs. Portugal
This game saw the controlling, incisive and dominant Germany that everyone predicted to see. Howedes and Boateng were used as full backs while Mertesacker and Hummels formed the heart of the defense. Guardiola’s tactics of playing Lahm in midfield was employed by Low with Khedira for company in and about the same area while the attacking prowess was composed of Kroos, Gotze and Ozil counting as the suppliers to Muller who formed the head of the German attack in a role (False 9) that was far from the resemblance of a striker but worked to perfection.
Germany 2-2 Ghana
Starting line up: Neuer, Höwedes, Hummels, Mertesacker, Boateng (Mustafi 45′), Lahm, Kroos, Khedira (Schweinsteiger 70′) , Götze (Klose 70′) , Ozil, Müller
Detailed Tactical Analysis: Germany 2-2 Ghana
Formations: Germany vs. Ghana
Low decided to stick with the same starting XI that saw Germany rip a disappointing Portugal side to bits. Germany, known for their excellent and efficient counter attacks were a bit cautious when Ghana too, decided to sit back and try to draw them out. As predicted, the German full backs were where the weakness is in this German side and this game showed the frailty of the wide areas when Boateng and Mustafi were up against the Ghanaian wingers. This game exposed the German methodology, where Muller’s False 9 role was partially neutralized by a team that sat back and called the opposition out as well as the crack in the defense defensive wall in the wide areas.
USA 0-1 Germany
Starting line up: Neuer; Boateng; Mertesacker; Hummels; Howedes; Lahm; Schweinsteiger (Gotze, 76); Kroos; Podolski (Klose, 45); Muller; Ozil (Schurrle, 89).
Detailed Tactical Analysis: USA 0-1 Germany
Formations: USA vs. Germany
With an unchanged back four from their previous two outings, Germany stuck with Boateng and Howedes in the wide areas despite knowing where their weakness lies. Khedira was replaced by Schweinsteiger while Lahm was once again utilized in a midfield role. Podolski came in for Gotze on the left side of the German attack. Germany saw fit that their attacks originate from the central midfield so as to lessen the liabilities of their wing backs. This saw Schweinsteiger put in an excellent shift while Lahm too was seen in more attacking areas. The USA full backs were a weakness in the first half which saw Boateng and Howedes asked to supply an offensive shift but saw them fall back in the second half when the USA full backs realized their weakness and decided to stay deep.
Germany 2-1 Algeria (AET)
Starting line up: Neuer, Boateng, Mertesacker, Mustafi (Khedira 70′), Howedes, Lahm, Kroos, Schweinsteiger (Kramer 109′), Ozil, Gotze (Schurrle 45′), Muller
Detail Tactical Analysis: Germany 2-1 Algeria (AET)
Formations: Germany vs. Algeria
Boateng was pushed into the centre of defense, replacing the unwell Hummels. This called Mustafi into the starting XI as the right back. The remaining two defenders, Howedes and Mertesacker held their positions. Low stuck with Schweinsteiger in midfield after impressing the in the game against USA while Lahm sat in front of the defense. Gotze was called back to replace Podolski but was taken off at half time with Schurrle being sent in to freshen things up.
Germany were once again uncomfortable with Algeria sitting back and calling them out. Low’s reluctance to fix the weakness in this German defense was exploited, with majority of the Algerian attack targeting the wider areas. It was only a matter of Algeria being worn out through the 90 minutes and added time that saw this German side clinch the game despite a relatively disappointing performance.
France 0-1 Germany
Starting line up: Neuer, Lahm, Boateng, Hummels, Höwedes, Schweinsteiger, Khedira, Kroos (Kramer 90‘), Özil (Götze 83‘), Müller, Klose (Schürrle 69‘)
Detailed Tactical Analysis: France 0-1 Germany
Formation: France vs Germany
The game finally saw Low push Lahm back to his preferred position at right back. Boateng and the returning Hummels formed the heart of the German defense while Howedes stuck to his allotted left back position. Khedira and Schweinsteiger were paired up in midfield for the first time in the tournament while Muller was pushed out wide to make room for the in-coming Klose while Gotze was dropped to the bench. A more reliable/cautious midfield was employed to keep the French midfield that composed of Pogba, Cabaye and Matuidi at bay. Germany decided to play with a high line which saw France try to play over the top balls to the wider areas. A solid display from Hummels ensured that Germany saw this tight affair go their way.
Razim Refai is a co-founder and editor of Outside of the Boot.
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