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Germans need to step up their game

Five lessons Germany must learn from their match against Algeria

July 3, 2014 By Abdullah Zubair
The Germans endured a frustrating outing against Algeria in the Round of 16 and must produce a much better performance if they are to get the better of France in their next match.

When Germany was paired with Algeria in the Round of 16, it was expected that Joachim Löw’s men would secure qualification without much hassle. However the Algerians gave the three time World Champions a reminder of just what they are capable of and were close to pulling off an upset just like they did during their debut World Cup appearance back in 1982 when they defeated West Germany by a 2-1 score line.

Whereas it had been predicted that the dessert warriors would give German attackers a hard time, no one could fathom that Germany’s defence would fall into shambles like it did on Monday night. Die Mannschaft could have easily been down by a goal or two in the early minutes was it not for some brilliant goalkeeping from Manuel Neuer who came way off his line on a number of occasions to ensure that his side did not concede a goal.

German fans who were expecting a complete mauling of Algeria had to wait till extra time to register a goal. Whereas Germany did manage to get away in their match against Algeria, they must bear in mind that France is an altogether different team who will punish Joachim Löw and his side if they are to repeat the mistakes. Here are five lessons Germany must learn from their tie against Algeria.

Play Lahm at right back

The German captain has blossomed in his newly discovered role and has grown from strength to strength. His work rate in the middle of the park is impressive and so are his accurate passes and his tackles. However Lahm’s absence from the back four definitely leaves the German defence weaker which is a source of concern.

With Shkodran Mustafi ruled out of the competition after suffering an injury in the match against Algeria, Germany are short at the back. Mats Hummels is expected to return to the side after missing out in the last match but regardless of whether the Borussia Dortmund defender makes his return or not, Lahm must start at right back for the simple reason that the German defence is stronger with the Bayern Munich man in the back four.

Furthermore the German midfield is equipped with world class players and should Lahm be reverted to his original role, the likes of Sami Khedira and Toni Kroos can fill the position with aplomb.

Avoid playing a high defensive line

Germany almost paid the price for playing a high defensive line and could have conceded a goal or two in the opening minutes had Neuer not come to the rescue. Like Algeria, France have pacey wingers with the likes of Antoine Griezmann and Mathieu Valbuena expected to start on either flank and the formidable duo can punish the Germans with their pace and dribbling skills should Löw makes use of a high defensive line tactic.

Protect the flanks

The German full backs were either caught napping or were found in the attacking half most of the time which meant that they were not well positioned to deal with the Algerian counter attacks. Most of Algeria’s attacks were orchestrated from the flanks and Germany were lucky to survive on a number of occasions.

Repeating the mistake against France can result in Germany losing out a place in the last four of the competition.  Valbuena in particular can take full advantage of this situation. The Marseille playmaker was very impressive against Nigeria when he recorded a 94% passing accuracy. The 29 year old created five chances and also put 15 crosses in the box. If the German full backs are not on their toes during the match against France, Valbuena can surely make them pay.

Use Klose

Despite his growing age the veteran striker is the finest finisher in the squad. The 36 year old scored his 15th goal in the World Cup with a poacher finish against Ghana and is capable of producing top performances for his side if used wisely.

Klose’s absence was direly felt in the match against Algeria as Muller and Schweinsteiger failed to convert rather simple chances which were presented to them, ones which the Lazio man would definitely convert with aplomb. Klose’s sharpness in the box can prove to be vital and it is important that the veteran plays some part during the match against France.

Protect the centre backs

The centre backs were exposed to one on one situations on a number of occasions and as expected they were unable to deal with them. Per Mertesacker despite of being an astute defender is severely short on pace which means that forwards love taking on him. Mats Hummels is expected to return for the Quarter Final match, but he himself is not the quickest of defenders which means that the two centre backs will need support from the midfielders.

After a disappointing campaign in 2010, France have responded strongly and have been one of the best teams of the tournament so far. Germany who kicked off the tournament in exemplary fashion against Portugal have looked shaky since then and need to be at the top of their game if they are to make it further into the competition.

 


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