Story of the game
The game was only a couple of minutes old when the first clear chance came and went. Thomas Muller could only snatch his shot and send it wide. It was clear from early on that neither team had turned up to play for the draw that would see both sides through to the last 16. Both USA and Germany committed plenty of men into forward areas when they sensed an opportunity to score and this was refreshing to see. Germany did have by far the better of the first 20 minutes and USA generally stood off the European giants. However, after beginning to gain a foothold in the game, USA became increasingly confident and their forward thrusts were launched with much more belief.
Possibly the best attack of the game to date came for USA and was all started when the burly Jones picked up the ball from a headed clearance after a German thrust forward. The Schalke midfielder powered past Philipp Lahm before supplying a team mate and space opened up for Zusi to have a long range effort on goal. This flew over the top but not by much and Neuer would certainly have been concerned.
An open and flowing game continued with the conditions only helping to provide a pacey game that was full of excitement. With 10 minutes to go until the interval, smart play on the right flank by Muller set Ozil away with some space in the area but the shot following his neat cut back was only straight at Tim Howard.
A continually entertaining affair remained the same right up to the half time whistle and a few feisty tackles began to fly in. Jermaine Jones was central to a few instances, but Michael Bradley’s enthusiastic closing down was also never far away from a strong challenge.
Germany started the second half the stronger of the two teams and you could see the effect that half time substitution Klose was having on proceedings. A period of pressure resulted in a couple of consecutive set plays and when the ball was partly cleared from a corner, it fell to Thomas Muller on the left of the area. He produced a lethal finish which had signs of all the ability he showed in scoring an opening game hat trick. A powerful side foot shot flew past Tim Howard’s right hand, leaving the big American no chance.
USA started to get frustrated and a few less than savoury challenges started to fly in, chief culprit among which was Kyle Beckerman. A booking that had possibly been a long time coming was soon followed by a cynical drag back, meaning the dread-locked holding midfielder was walking the thinnest of tight ropes.
The game certainly didn’t peter out, but a USA attacking threat did rather die down as the minutes wore on. The Germans certainly looked more likely to grab a second as the effort they had put in earlier took its toll. The final 2 minutes of injury time produced a couple of tremendous chances for them however, the first coming from a flowing American break that ended up with a fantastic Philipp Lahm block. Working the ball from the resulting throw-in, Clint Dempsey had an awkward header to convert from close range but could only nod over. With the final score coming in from the other game in the group, USA’s progression was secured moments after the final whistle which can be counted as a huge success.
USA: Howard, Johnson, Gonzalez, Besler, Beasley, Beckerman, Zusi (Yedlin – 84’), Jones, Bradley, Davis (Bedoya -59’), Dempsey (capt).
Germany: Neuer, Boateng, Mertesacker, Hummels, Howedes, Lahm (capt), Schweinsteiger (Gotze – 76’), Kroos, Ozil (Schurrle – 89’), Podolski (Klose – 45’), Muller.
1. Tim Howard – 6. Pulled off a few good stops in tricky conditions for goalkeepers and could do nothing to prevent Germany’s goal.
23. Fabian Johnson – 6. Got to the by-line a couple of times in the attacking third and did help to nullify the threat posed by Lukas Podolski.
3. Omar Gonzalez – 7. Very impressive for such a young and inexperienced centre half, his dominance did wain somewhat in the second half though.
5. Matt Besler – 6. Fairly solid and was not shown up by the wide array of German attacking talent.
7. DaMarcus Beasley – 7. A high energy performance, he was up and down the touch line all game, often being an outlet ball for the US.
15. Kyle Beckerman – 5. Not quite as effective as in previous games, he couldn’t seem to get close enough to Germany’s creative players without fouling them. Fairly consistent with his passing however.
19. Graham Zusi – 6. Was much more effective in the first half where, despite playing nominally from the right, he would pop up all over the field. Howedes certainly had a problem with his direct approach.
13. Jermaine Jones – 7. As powerful and energetic as ever, his surging runs from midfield caused Germany the most concern and nearly resulted in goals on a couple of occasions.
4. Michael Bradley – 7. Playing in a slightly deeper role than previous games, he formed more of a trio with Jones and Beckerman making him more effective defensively. He closed down with great enthusiasm, but didn’t often join in with Clint Dempsey.
14. Brad Davis – 6. Mostly situated on the left for USA, he ran at Boateng from time to time and helped Beasley with great endeavour in the defensive areas. He was brought off for Bedoya just before the hour mark in an effort to increase creativity.
8. Clint Dempsey – 5. Poor by his standards, although his work rate cannot be criticised. He didn’t demonstrate the required quality when picking up the ball in dangerous areas.
11. Alejandro Bedoya – 6. Certainly added something different to USA when he came on, and looked to come inside more often to get involved in the play. Towards the end, he had a good chance to level the scores but Philipp Lahm prevented him with a last ditch block.
2. DeAndre Yedlin – 5. Looked energetic enough as an auxiliary right winger and although his legs didn’t let him down, his final delivery did somewhat.
1. Manuel Neuer – 6. Didn’t have a save to make in the entire match, but this was partly down to his excellent starting position to collect long balls over the top. He also exhibited good distribution as usual.
20. Jerome Boateng – 6. Was solid enough defensively but when he edged forward, his final ball would let him down from time to time.
17. Per Mertesacker – 5. USA spotted a weak point in Mertesacker and tried to exploit his lack of pace. Fellow defenders needed to cover him to repel attacks.
5. Mats Hummels – 6. As calm as ever at the back, he provided extra control when USA made some attacking forays.
4. Benedikt Howedes – 5. Occasionally shown up as being a centre back playing out of position, but other than that was fairly solid. He didn’t offer much going forward.
16. Philipp Lahm – 6. Not his best game for Germany, but not terrible. He stayed a lot more in a defensive role rather than popping up throughout midfield and as such had a reduced impact on the game.
7. Bastian Schweinsteiger – 7. Added dynamism compared to Sami Khedira who had occupied the role in the previous 2 games, and his passing was generally perfectly on point. He dovetailed beautifully with his Bayern colleagues in the heart of the German midfield before being withdrawn.
18. Toni Kroos – 7. Found pass after pass in midfield, often releasing others into space. The only drawback was a lack of incision to his passes.
8. Mesut Ozil – 6. Relatively ineffective later in the game, but he did add penetration either when floating from the right or in a false 9 position. His only shot on goal was powerful enough but straight at Tim Howard.
10. Lukas Podolski – 5. Not a great deal of contribution in the first half and as such, he was replaced at half time by Klose. A couple of decent low crosses into the box were about all that he added to the side, while not particularly offering much protection to Howedes.
13. Thomas Muller – 7. Tireless up front and popping up across the entire forward line, he was the greatest menace to the USA defence. Muller struck a beauty in the second half that ended up being the winning goal.
11. Miroslav Klose – 5. Nearly broke the deadlock immediately after entering the fray, but was almost non-existent after that.
19. Mario Gotze – 5. Looked agile and creative enough, but he didn’t glide past players as easily as usual and was a little too unreliable.
9. André Schurrle – N/A.
Man of the Match
Thomas Muller was the one man who seemed to instil fear into the USA defence regardless of where he picked up the ball. Often the only German forward making any effort to break into the box, he worked tirelessly for the team. Of course he hit the winner with a sumptuous effort, but on a different day he may also have picked up a couple of assists to his name. His role in this German system is vital and seems to be the most effective man for the position in their squad. Certainly a contender for the Golden Boot, his goals and overall performance could take Germany to the semi-finals and beyond.