Germany might have failed to book an early spot in the last 16 in a combative draw with Ghana, but they have learned some valuable lessons. One's liable to worry coach Joachim Löw, but two others could raise his spirits.
Germany struggled to a 2-2 draw against Ghana, mainly because of their physicality and phenomenal work rate. Unlike against Portugal, who afforded Germany much more time and space, Joachim Löw's side suffered from relentless pressing by the African team, especially early on.
A new kind of test
Initially, Germany looked capable of coping, but as the intensity of the game developed, Löw's men grew uncharacteristically sloppy when rushed in possession. As a worrying knock-on effect of this, players were regularly caught out of position after giving the ball away. Although Ghana capitalized on precisely this to take the lead, following a rare Philipp Lahm turnover, they left a number of similar opportunities begging.
Most concerning was Germany's inability to control the game when Lahm's performance dropped. The captain's mistake that led to Ghana's second goal stands out, but his general manner was less assured than against Portugal in the middle of the park.
Perhaps it serves as a reminder that the defender is still developing as a midfield option, but Lahm will have to hurry that progression up as the technical quality of Germany's opposition improves in Brazil.
Löw delivers on squad importance
On a number occasions, Löw has said that he has a squad of 23 useful players, all hungry to contribute. On Saturday evening against Ghana, that proved to be the case as Bastian Schweinsteiger and Miroslav Klose swung the momentum back in Germany's favor within minutes of appearing off the bench. Naturally, in such heat and after such an intense game substitutes were always going to make a difference, but Löw's choices were astute.
Schweinsteiger added much needed hustle to a tiring midfield, while Miroslav Klose provided the necessary touch to get Germany level again. Considering all the fuss about Thomas Müller, Miroslav Klose's natural ability to yet again let his feet do the talking should be both recognized and respected.
His positioning for the goal highlights exactly what Germany have been lacking on a number of pivotal occasions, namely the instincts of a natural striker. Müller is excellent but his strength lies in seeking and manipulating space. Klose just has a goalscoring knack, bringing him on in the second period didn't just make Löw look good, it showed why the 36-year-old Klose is still part of this team.
Consistency important, adaptation the key
Selecting the same eleven was surprising simply because of the fitness concerns surrounding Mats Hummels. That aside, Löw is one for consistency in all cases and so a raft of changes was hardly expected. Hummels' inclusion proved pivotal considering the unexpected injury to Jerome Boateng at half time, not to mention Hummels' sterling individual performance in the second half.
The way in which Löw's side evolved around their 4-3-3 formation, particularly when under pressure in the second half, shows their growing intelligence. As much as their technical superiority aided their comeback, their nous created the possiblity of it happening.
Germany's individuals have long been hailed, but they are looking to put the final touches on their collective identity in the hope a World Cup trophy will be their reward. Against Portugal, they showed their ruthlessness but against Ghana, their determination stood out.
This side hasn't been associated with resoluteness, but that's exactly what they showed in a game they easily could have lost. And if Löw's men continue to reveal more positive traits as the tournament progresses, success beckons.
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