Germany’s poor showing in their 2-1 win over Algeria left much to be desired – but could be the hallmark of potential champions.
Two goals in extra-time from Premier League duo Andre Schurrle and Mesut Ozil sent Joachim Lowe’s side through in Porto Alegre, after Bayern Munich goalkeeper Manuel Neuer had continually kept the African nation at bay with a string of impressive saves.
For too long the Germans have been accused of peaking too early, of prioritising eye-catching, sublime football over results. Yet last night, in an arena where Algerians swore revenge and vengeance for their exit in 1982 due to West Germany’s controversial victory over Austria, Lowe’s men delivered the most telling sign yet that this side can end their World Cup draught.
They failed to sparkle or enchant, but nonetheless found the goals necessary to send them through to a mouth-watering quarter-final against France, who reached the same stage courtesy of a 2-0 win over Nigeria.
It was their third win from four matches, with previous group stage victories over Jurgen Klinsmann’s USA and Portugal. The latter was a drubbing of mammoth proportions that showed their power and might.
An injury to Marco Reus prior to the tournament aside, this squad is the strongest Lowe has had at his disposal since succeeding Klinsmann as head coach after the World Cup in 2006. On paper, it is the best team in Brazil.
Lowe won many plaudits four years ago in South Africa with his decision to integrate the younger players the country possessed into the senior squad. The likes of Thomas Muller, Neuer, Toni Kroos and Ozil were boys then – they are men now.
Germany reached the semi-finals on that occasion, unlucky to go down 1-0 to eventual champions Spain due to a Carlos Puyol header, but only lifting the famous golden trophy will be enough to keep Lowe in the job this time around.
His men must deliver on the biggest stage of them all. After becoming serial champions on the domestic front with the likes of Bayern, Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund, there is no excuse for failing to replicate their antics in the kit and colours of their country.
All past winners of the tournament have won ugly en route to becoming world champions. The Spanish edged past a plucky Paraguay 1-0, whereas Italy relied on a late penalty by Francesco Totti to see off a spirited Australia. Brazil required a fluky Ronaldinho effort in 2002 to beat Sven Goran Eriksson’s England side in 2002, despite playing the last half an hour a man down.
Monday’s win over Algeria showed that they can ‘win ugly.’ All that remains in winning the next three games and winning the summer showpiece.
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