Football continued in the Rhein-Neckar-Arena on Sunday even after Barcelona had already had their say on how the game should be played. In a repeat of the World Cup 3rdplace match, Germany and Uruguay tested their squads ahead of their respective competitive fixtures. Uruguay look to place a strong challenge in the Copa América, and Germany look to march onwards in European qualification against Austria and Azerbaijan.
The strength of the two squads told of the weight each manager placed on the match. Uruguay held nearly the same starting eleven as they had in the World Cup, while Germany included young starlets Mats Hummels, André Schürrle, and Marcel Schmelzer along with more familiar faces. Hummels and Schmelzer both won the Bundesliga this year with Borussia Dortmund. Hummels has particularly impressed with solid defensive displays and spirited forward runs, and Schürrle has had a fine campaign with Mainze 05, his 15 goals in the Bundesliga being a record for the club. For the match, Germany retained their efficient 4-2-3-1 formation from the World Cup, and Uruguay played in a narrower 4-3-3 with Forlán frequently dropping deep.
The match started as a largely open affair with both teams looking to drive play forwards. Uruguay drilled long balls ahead to Forlán and Suárez, often bypassing the midfield altogether. Still, it did not take long for Germany’s numerical advantage in the middle to bring them control of the match. In the 19thminute, Schürrle placed a beautiful cross field ball to Müller who missed his volley, but the move would be a sign of things to come. Under a minute later Gomez robbed Lugano of possession at the edge of his area. The German midfield placing increased pressure led the defender to wait too long for an outlet, and it resulted in Gomez sneaking in and cutting across for the opening goal.
Germany dominated the rest of the first half with each player looking comfortable on the ball and linking well with team-mates. Hummels played a delightful through pass to Özil which forced the attacking midfielder just wide of prime position. Hummels would later burst forward in a counter-attack which came from a poor corner by Uruguay, and Germany would score from a separate counter-attack with Schürrle’s fine strike from distance making it 2-0. The goal came as a result of Germany intelligently and swiftly pushing men forwards, their 4-2-3-1 often shifting to a 4-2-4 in attack mode. This often found the wingers a surprising amount of space, and Schürrle was under no pressure as he curled a 20 yard shot around several defenders into the far post.
Uruguay had no dearth of opportunities in the first half either, although theirs were not as clear as Germany’s. Also, their attacking trio lacked form up front with Cavani frequently losing possession or delivering a poor attempt. Still, in the second half their fluency somewhat improved as Forlán played a nice lofted pass to Suárez who flicked it out wide to Cavani. Cavani let the ball carelessly skip past him, but his return ball in the box was a dangerous one with the corresponding confusion from the German defenders allowing Gargano to find the back of the net. The score line read 2-1 to Germany.
Afterwards, Germany made several changes with young players Höwedes, Götze, and Träsch making appearances. Miroslav Klose earned his 109thcap replacing Özil, and the exchange of a midfielder for a forward led to a much choppier bout of possession for Germany. Uruguay chased their equalizer, and in the 63rdminute a one-two with Forlán and Gargano gave Forlán the room to unleash a fierce shot, forcing a fine save from Neuer. In the 70thminute, Hummels was forced to make an excellent tackle after a pass from Forlán left Suárez one-on-one with the defender.
Even though Germany looked much less fluent with the vast number of substitutions made, Uruguay’s midfield still struggled, failing to generate enough chances as they came agonizingly close to pulling level. The match ended on almost the same note as the previous 3-2 victory for Germany in the World Cup. Forlán struck one last curling shot, but this time he was thwarted by Neuer rather than the post.
The 2-1 score line was a fair reflection of events, and ultimately the match had achieved its purpose for both managers. Both sets of players were given the opportunity to gel with their team-mates after a considerable international hiatus, and Germany’s young players particularly impressed, giving Joachim Löw plenty of options ahead of qualification and Euro 2012. Still, Uruguay have several areas needing improvement if they are to win the Copa América which begins in just one month’s time.
Germany: (GK) Neuer, (DEF) Schmelzer, (DEF) Hummels, (DEF) Friedrich, (DEF) Lahm, (MID) Rolfes, (MID) Kroos, (MID) Schürrle, (MID) Özil, (MID) Müller, (STR) Gomez
Uruguay: (GK) Maslera, (DEF) Pereira, (DEF) Lugano, (DEF) Godin, (DEF) Caceres, (MID) Pereira, (MID) Gargano, (MID) Rios, (STR) Forlán, (STR) Cavani, (STR) Suárez