Germany slips by France in sloppy World Cup quarterfinal
France's Mamadou Sakho and Germany's Thomas Mueller fight for the ball during their World Cup quarterfinal match at Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, July 4, 2014. (KAI PFAFFENBACH/Reuters)
It was like expecting to see a big fireworks display and instead getting the burning schoolhouse.
The supposed monster World Cup quarterfinal showdown between Germany and France on Friday turned into the monster letdown as neither team generated enough excitement to turn anyone’s crank.
When it was over, Germany was in the familiar position of heading to the World Cup semifinals. The squad had made it to the final four for the fourth time in succession.
They did it on the back of an uninspired, disappointingly mundane 1-0 win.
Neither team looked good enough to scare the shorts off any of the other challengers.
Germany got the winning goal 13 minutes in on a Mats Hummels header and then locked into survival mode, absorbing whatever pressure the French threw at them.
Considering how leaky the German defence has appeared in this tournament it was a dangerous strategy to employ.
Several times it almost backfired, but the while the French created some chances very few were gilt-edged opportunities.
The only time the Germans looked like scoring a second goal was when the desperate French pushed forward.
Germany is a very pragmatic team. Whatever it takes to win they’ll do it even if it makes the game pedantic.
German coach Joachim Low wanted to slow the game down to his teams pace because he was worried about the French strikers.
Boring? Who cares?
“I think both teams played well,” Low said. “There weren’t many goal-scoring opportunities, which was part of our plan. We didn’t want to give France chances with the quality of strikers they possess. We closed them down well and that was the key.”
The Germans don’t particularly care what the quality of the win was like. They’re never big on aesthetics when it came to winning soccer games. The beauty for them is in the result.
Germany moved on in the quest for a fourth World Cup title.
The French, who are known more for their aesthetics, didn’t really begin pushing the ball around with authority until they saw the clock near the 90th minute.
One would have expected the French to play with a little more desperation, but coach Didier Deschamps was patient with his starters. Some would say too patient.
Some of his players simply didn’t fit enough yet he stuck with them until the last bit of energy had been drained from them.
It is a young French team that survived the World Cup without the kind of Pier 6 brawls that occurred at the 2010 tournament.
“Although our adventure in Brazil ends here and we’re sad, disappointed and frustrated, we’ll move on,” Deschamps said. “I hope this group of players can play together for a long time. I have a lot of work to do with them, but things are definitely promising. We’ll need to maintain this momentum and quality. Although I’m hurt and disappointed at the moment, I have to remember that there are a lot of positives.”
While France’s late substitutions did bring more energy to the game they were never going to beat Germany’s calm, cold-blooded goalkeeper Manuel Neuer. He made the saves he had to make.
Don’t expect much different from Germany going forward because they will be the team put under pressure by teams left in the tournament, all of whom will attack the German defence.
“We’re playing the type of football that will give us the chance to win. We’re defending well, with passion and that needs to be intensified with every coming match,” Hummels said.
That’s sounds like a recipe for success if they can do it but isn’t exactly promising enticing soccer.
Regardless of what is said by either Germany or France neither played particularly well Friday.
For France it was the deathknell.
Germany gets yet another chance to get better.
If they don’t improve they won’t be far behind France in going home.
If you win, you can say just about anything.
But even Germany coach Joachim Low might have pushed it a little too far after his team defeated France 1-0 in a World Cup quarterfinal Friday.
“It was an incredibly exciting match. But you can’t expect anything other than that at the World Cup. Both teams were equal,” he said.
Perhaps Herr Low was at another game because the game his team played at Maracana Stadium against Les Bleues was pretty much a dog.
Low also called it an “intensive match.” While the players and coaches might have felt that, it didn’t translate to the fans and media fighting to keep their eyes open in the heat of Rio.
Maybe the statistics are wrong on the game but they list seven shots on net, only two of them by Germany.
Corners are also a pretty good tell on how much teams are pressuring each other. There were only eight total in the game.
There was hope that the opening day of the quarterfinals, with France playing Germany followed by Colombia and Brazil, might be one of the best days of World Cup soccer in many years.
After France and Germany laid and egg, Colombia and Brazil came pretty close to doing the same thing. The evening game was marginally better, but neither team produced great South American soccer. With the Spanish referee calling 54 fouls the tedium built as much as the tension.
Brazil and Germany are happy they won, but what was supposed to be two heavyweight battles turned into nothing more than disappointing sparring sessions.