Germany have beaten Chile by a single goal in the final of the Confederations Cup thanks to a goal from Borrusia Mönchengladbach attacking midfielder Lars Stindl.
The final of the starter before the main course of the World Cup in twelve months time saw a repeat of one of the most entertaining matches from the tournament. The group stage match which had finished all even once more pitted the power, strength and pure desire of a well oiled German footballing machine managed against Chile’s flair-filled, attacking engine spearheaded by Arsenal talisman and all-time top goalscorer, Alexis Sanchez. This time, the world champions would prevail.
It’s hard to believe Germany rotated so heavily for this tournament. They have already lost a number of their members of the World Cup winning squad three years ago – Bastian Schweinsteiger, Miroslav Klose, Lucas Podolski and national captain, the Bayern Munich legend, the ‘Magic Dwarf’ Philip Lahm.
They didn’t take many recognisable names to Russia this year – Mesut Özil, Sami Khedira, Jerome Boateng, Mats Hummels, Manuel Neuer, Thomas Müller were all missing from Joachim Löw’s youthful squad, which was captained by Paris Saint Germain playmaker Julian Draxler.
But it didn’t matter one bit, as Germany displayed frightening squad depth. Sebastian Rudy, Timo Werner, Lars Stindl and Antonio Rüdiger all performed brilliantly in this warm-up tournament before next year’s main event and a strong season next year could see all of them back on the plane to Russia quite easily.
Germany didn’t have it all their own way in Sunday’s final, however. Chile started well, throwing the usual caution of major international finals aside and attacking relentlessly, driven forward by Arturo Vidal in the engine room. A smart one-two with Eduardo Vargas was stopped by a very tight offside call, before Rüdiger’s block and Ter Stegen’s save denied Charles Aranguiz and Vidal respectively. Long range strikes from Vargas and Sanchez tested the Barcelona shot-stopper again, before Alexis Sanchez wasted arguably the best chance of the match as Rüdiger put him under pressure at the last moment. It seemed easier to score than miss and Die Mannschaft punished Chile moments later in the most typical fashion.
Celta Vigo’s Marcelo Díaz gave possession away on the edge of his own box to Leipzig’s Werner, who placed the ball past Claudio Bravo in the Chilean goal and gave Lars Stindl arguably the easiest goal he’ll ever score. It was probably his most important goal as well. 1-0 to the World Champions against the Copa America winners. After thirty minutes Chile had managed twelve shots to Germany’s two, but they still trailed. Díaz conceded possession cheaply again to Leon Goretzka, but the midfielder could only drive a strike just a shade past the post.
Chile continued to attack well, with impressive attack link up from Vargas, Sanchez and Aranguiz, but their defensive skills were lacking. Gonzalo Jara this time the guilty man to give away possession, but once more Goretzka couldn’t take advantage, this time shooting straight at Bravo. Half time and the Chileans were unlucky to be behind.
The second half began in similar fashion, with Chile dominating the ball and trying to play a high line, Germany content to counter attack. Draxler did manage to squeeze a shot away but Gonzalo Jara once more managed to block it. Chilean frustration boiled over into a small fracas following an attack breaking down.
Following this, a moment of farce occurred. A blatant elbow from Gonzalo Jara on Timo Werner was missed by the referee, but the Video Assistance Review (VAR) intervened. Instead of a quick effective decision and a red card for the ex-Nottingham Forest defender, the referee found himself making a trip to the sideline to watch the events again on a tablet, consulted by a number of officials and barraged with inquests and abuse from members of both benches. After a delay of several minutes, a yellow card was awarded, the completely incorrect decision and one which prompted major scrutiny of the technology which FIFA is so desperate to appease fans and players with.
The VAR was under the spotlight again a few minutes later, as further time was wasted dealing with a frivolous review for a penalty decision that was never even a foul, let alone a penalty. Even Alexis Sanchez tried to intervene, pointing out he only wanted the corner-kick, referee Milorad Mazic was impassive to his claims.
Charles Aranguiz’s long drive was tipped away by Ter Stegen before Chile spurned their best chance at an equaliser. Substitute Edson Puch did well to make anything of a hit-and-hope ball from Alexis and played the ball back across the box, German keeper Ter Stegen was in no-man’s land and the pull-back to fellow substitute Angelo Sagal should have sparked wild celebrations. Instead, it was a horror moment as he ballooned the shot over the bar. Chile had one last chance to level with a late free kick, but Ter Stegen did well to leap across and get two strong hands to Sanchez’s effort.
Germany once more demonstrated their industrious, well-oiled machine is the most effective in world football. They certainly didn’t dominate the match, but they took their chance when it came to them and save one or two moments, they never really looked like conceding and looked fairly comfortable throughout the second half at least.
It is no surprise that Löw’s team are favourites for next year in Russia- on this evidence it is tough to see many teams worldwide matching them.