Goalmouth Scramble 2014
Analysis and comment on the 2014 FIFA World Cup

Goalmouth Scramble 2012: Germany looking like the team to beat


Die Mannschaft are making a strong case that this is their year. Germany have made it two wins from two, beating the fourth and tenth best teams in the world, according to Fifa's rankings. The team is almost certain to top Group B (the Group of Death), and in beating top opposition have shown they are well on their way to avenging their defeat in the 2008 final and going all the way.

The Germans have been clinical in their passing, determined in their defending, and - in the case of Mario Gomez - pinpoint accurate in their finishing. While Germany were frustrated for most of their first match against the Portuguese, they took their chance when it came, as they did against fellow pre-tournament contenders the Netherlands in their second match.

Germany found their attacking verve after 24 minutes when Bastien Schweinsteiger slid a ball through to Gomez, whose perfect first touch, turn and strike show why many have him down for the Golden Boot. His second was just as good, firing the ball past Maarten Stekelenburg from a tricky angle 14 minutes later, although the Dutch keeper should have dealt with the shot better.

While Schweinsteiger was not at his best against the Portuguese in the team's first match, he came into his own against the Dutch. The Bayern Munich midfielder was at the centre of Germany's attack, playing the final ball to his club teammate Gomez for both goals, and also made strong tackles and fought hard for the 50-50 balls in the middle of the park.

Others have correctly said that Schweinsteiger would walk into any team in this tournament, including Spain with its star-studded midfield. The 27-year-old is something of the veteran in Germany's talented midfield, playing alongside the likes of Toni Kroos (22), Real Madrid's Mesut Ozil (23) and Sami Khedira (25).

In defence, Germany is characteristically strong, and frustrated both the Portuguese and Dutch forwards. Germany's determined defence was exemplified by Jerome Boateng throwing his body in front of a Wesley Sniejder rocket just as Holland were looking likely for an equaliser in the second half. When the Dutch did score, it was to a brilliant Robin Van Persie strike from the edge of the box, which was fired between the legs of Holger Badstuber and gave goalkeeper Manual Neuer little chance.

Sure, the Germans haven't been completely dominant in either of their games - in fact possession statistics have been even in both games - but they have got three points against two of the best teams at the tournament. The tough challenges of their group games will put them in good stead to progress in the knockout rounds.

The only question not yet answered is how Germany will cope should Gomez misfire. His three goals from six shots is a great return, but Germany will need to see goals from the likes of Lukas Podolski, World Cup Golden Boot winner Thomas Muller and substitute striker Miroslav Klose to win this tournament.

The Dutch have been wasteful in both games (in particular Van Persie) and their impressive midfield - which includes the likes of Wesley Sneijder and Arjen Robben - rarely looked threatening. They will now need to beat Portugal in their final game and have Denmark defeated by Germany to have any chance of progressing on goal difference.

It is early days - half the teams have yet to even play their second game so we shouldn't get carried away - but this clinical German side, with wins now against the third and seventh ranked teams in Europe, have stamped their mark as the team to beat. Does Spain, Italy, France or anyone else have what it takes to stop them?

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