Germany has qualified for 19 out of 21 world cups. That amazing record was never in doubt despite losing to the same opponents in the reverse fixture. It all came right in the second half after a wasteful opening half of the game against a North Macedonian side who ran out of ideas in the final third of the pitch as the game wore on. With that win Germany became the first team to book their place in Qatar next year following Romania’s defeat of Armenia. The key to the qualification was the way they settled for a coach who knows the players in and out, transferred the Bayern style to the national side. Flick HAS ALSO BROUGHT THE BEST OUT OF WERNER who was goal shy under Jogi Louw but is slowly regaining his confidence. Germany had the ball possession with Kimmich the player dictating the attacks, the Gnabry pace once again troubling Alioski just as the first game in Germany.
One thing to realize is that Germany does not have the Lahms and the Podolskis of 8 years ago. So settling for a flat back 4 was the sensible and safest option and Flick was proved right. The relatively untried and untested center back pairing of Kehrer and Sule were solid virtually playing from the half way line with Neuer acting more as a sweeper. North Macedonia on the other hand who caused a stir by beating the odds to qualify for Euro 2020, looked resigned to defeat even with the scoreline level at 0-0.Their number 7 Elmas(Napoli) was their likely goal threat with his angled runs although his decision making on whether to pass or shoot were questionable.
Havertz is an excellent player no doubt but as with Mount at Chelsea he needs a good number 10 to combine with and Muller provided that showing what Germany were missing when they sidelined him earlier in the campaign. A whopping 24 shots at goal as the Macedonian goal was laid siege on to just 7 for the home side. They(at 12 points and third in Group) are now in a three way tussle for the play off spot with Romania(13 points and second) and Armenia(fourth with 12 points too0.
It wasn’t pretty part Germany got the job done in the end against a side who prefer to sit back and defend what they got. Germany have Group J under control leaving their opponents Romania to fight it out with North Macedonia and Armenia for the play off berth. FOR ONCE a VAR review has gone against the attacker. The penalty award on the foul against Werner by Burca was rightly reversed by the ref. Doesn’t happen a lot let’s savor the moment shall we?Rangers’s midfielder Ianis Hagi(famous last name) scored a goal for the ages. It is the sort of goal that if it is scored by Messi we would be raving about it for a while. He clearly takes after a certain Maradona of the
So we can’t really say the equalizer by Gnabry wasn’t coming. Rudiger looked uncharacteristically off color in defense though for Germany. Check out how easily the number 9 for Romania Puscas turns him on 40 minutes. One thing you have to like about Thomas Muller is his ability to be in the right position at the right time for the odd tap in and scruffy goal. He isn’t glamorous but when you need a goal he will provide it. Germany has some issues to sort out though namely who is their REAL first choice left and right backsThe most impressive player for Die Mannschaft was Serge Gnabry. The Bayern attacker was everywhere, in midfield putting the shift in to get the ball and was creating chances for his teammates. For the Romania, it is almost cliché that the guy who scores the beauty gets the best player prize but I loved the way their defender number 6 Chiriches kept the fearsome front two of Reus and Sane at bay especially when Sane drifted into the center.
This relatively newish event rolled into Flanders, Belgium on Wednesday. It is an innovative, exciting form of Time Trialing introduced by UCI in 2019. For the benefit of those not in the know, it is a cross gender(male and female) race in which there are three men and three women in either team. The race is split between the genders, with the boys going in first (please gender activists don’t make a fuss about this), in this case from Knokke-Heist for 22.5km. The girls finish the race carrying the team to Brugge.
Unlike the athletics relay event whereby the first one to finish the lap hands over to the person manning the other leg, thus event requires the second rider of the trio to reach the end of the first leg in order for the girls to start theirs. This requires that that the male trio be in constant communication with each other and be balanced in their speed. Doesn’t help that the lead rider finishes over a minute ahead of the others. Most importantly the other two should AVOID A CRASH at all cost.
This point got me thinking about team Italy which have, let’s face it World class TT rider Ganna in their team and not a , let’s just say , competitive women’s trio in their ranks. My concern proved well founded as Italy posted a very quick first leg powered by Filippo to finish 19 seconds ahead of the eventual winners Germany. The women couldn’t keep up with that kind of intensity and Italy dropped down to third 37 seconds behind Germany. Germany won the event with Tony Martin signing off in style beating the heavyweight Netherlands team which included Ellen Van Dijk who finished second. The Netherlands women leg gave it all they could clawing back a 23 seconds deficit but it was a bit too much at the end. To close , this event was introduced in place of the Trade Team event which is a race run by registered UCI teams like UAE Team Emirates and QuickStep. This meant that the smaller teams with small budgets could not compete in the event and the race ended up being boringly dominated by the big boys. So in order to be more inclusive the UCI included women in the race which is very noble indeed. Besides I love the fact that there is no preferential treatment ,both males and females ride an equal distance 👍.
Joachim Loew’s reign as Germany coach ended on a whimper in a defeat at Wembley. The German gaffer made a huge call in starting with Werner in attack in place of Gnabry. Timo hasn’t exactly had a prolific season at Chelsea. Gareth Southgate brought in Saka of Arsenal in place of Foden with Grealish again starting from the bench. Both decisions did not pay off. But Southgate had the players to correct the decision, Loew didn’t. To be fair to the Germans, they were the better team on the balance of play. Great on the ball ,created chances. But again I will sound like a broken record here. NO NUMBER NINE TO FINISH OFF THE PLAYS. Germany though had the players who were better on the ball, talk about Kroos and Muller.That’s the huge task faced by the new German coach who comes in. Watch the chance on 7 minutes. Great through pass by Muller to Goretzka. Who would you have loved to be in that position, Leon or Werner? None of the above for me.
Sterling has continued his rich goal scoring form for his country and is relishing the sort of free role he has for the three lions. England looked dangerous on set pieces, no surprises there with guys like Stones and Maguire to aim at. Germany should have been out of sight in that first half with the chances they squandered. Check out 45 minutes on the clock. Hummels deserves a medal from the German Chancellor for that last ditch clearance from Kane. You definitely would have fancied Kane from that position. Second half Pickford earned his stripes as the England number one. A great save from Havertz, followed by the Muller golden chance. He made himself big putting off the German. Grealish came on and made the difference getting involved in both goals, squaring for Shaw and Kane. Shaw has been doing that for United this season creating chances for the likes of Rashford and Cavani. Did England deserve to win this one? Jury is out on that one. The Germans certainly did not help themselves by missing guilt edged chances.
The Germans returning to winning ways, turning back the clock to the wonder years. Recovering from a counter attacking opening goal from Ronaldo, the Germans’ positive play rewarded with two own goals just before half time from Raphael and Dias.
What’s the best way to respond to critics? In the pitch perform and they will be put to shame. Gnabry and Havertz ran the show, the latter rewarded with a goal for his tenacity. Gossens got into the Portuguese half more than he did against France and it was effective. He even got the fourth the Atalanta full back. Got to be a hard ass on the Germans again. They put the foot off the paddle after the fourth pulling out the attacking players in favor of a pragmatic approach and safety. Portugal accepted the invitation to attack,got a second from Diogo Jota. Great work again from the evergreen Ronaldo who never gave up on a seemingly outward bound ball. Fantastic example to the young players. Lille central midfielder Renato Sanches struck the post in late on with a shot that could have brought down the house.
After the French draw in Budapest, first place is still up for grabs in the group of death. Even the Hungarians still in it they need a win against Germany in their final game.