Man of the Match: There weren’t a ton of volunteers on a day of slightly above average if unremarkable performances, but as usual, Mesut Özil was among those clearly ahead of the rest. In addition to providing for Lars Benders’ first international goal, Özil played his usual orchestrator’s role, with every touch subtly stressing the defense thanks to threats posed by speed and movement. There is a moment’s panic in every defender when they realize how smooth Özil is with the ball. He makes it looks so easy, but I’m working so hard.
Packaged for takeaway:
- Though they eventually got the second goal they needed to secure Group B, it was a fairly mundane performance from Germany. For much of the second half they left themselves in danger of giving up the shock goal that would send them home early. They seemed content with a 1-1. Hindsight reminds us Denmark never really threatened in the second half, though their first half goal was a reminder that an equalizer was only a corner kick away.
- That equalizer looked like a play drawn up on a chalkboard. Corner from the right goes far post 14 yards from goal. Nicklas Bendtner heads it back toward the middle for Michael Krohn-Dehli, who puts home his second goal of the tournament. It happend with such quickness, precision and decisiveness, you’d swear they spend 30 minutes practicing it on Saturday.
- Fourteen minutes earlier, Germany had taken the lead on a typical Lukas Podolski goal. Celebrating his 100th cap (at only 27 years old), the German left winger pounced on a ball sent rolling through the area, blasting it into the left side of net, giving Stephan Anderson little chance to save it.
- Some question why Podolski in the Germany XI (and not without reason), but plays like that remind us he’s been embedding in that left wing role for some time. His instincts are honed, and none of Joachim Löw’s alternatives have that weapon of a left foot.
- The goal came off a Germany throw in that was allowed to hit Thomas Müller in the penalty area. He pulled back to Mario Gómez, who fluffed a pass that ended up in space in front of goal. There, Podolski pounced. Right back Lars Jacobsen went to sleep for a moment, allowing Podolski to run onto an uncontested shot.
- In the absence of Dennis Rommedahl (out with a hamstring injury), Morten Olsen started Jakob Poulsen in central midfield and pushed Christian Eriksen out right. This may have helped offset Germany’s advantage through the middle (it was hard to tell if it was Denmark’s adjustment or Germany’s lack of ambition), but getting Eriksen wide led to his most active game of the tournament.
- Before the game we talked about Germany’s lack of ruthlessness. It was apparent again today. For the third straight game, Germany scored first, and for the third straight game, their lack of urgency allowed their opponents to stay in the match.
- Lars Bender, a midfielder by trade at Bayer Leverkusen, was in at right back for the suspended Jerome Boateng. Even putting the goal aside, he played very well and offered Germany more going forward than his Bayern counterpart.
- The result ends a strong tournament from Daniel Agger. After a first match where Denmark continuously gave up chances to the Netherlands, Agger stepped up. His partner, Simon Kjaer, also had his moments, but whereas Kjaer took chances (that mostly paid off), Agger was a pillar of reliability – one of the group stage’s better central defenders.
- For Germany, it could have been better, but depending on how Joachim Löw’s reading his team’s attitude, he might not care. If he thinks his team is focused and can turn it up at any time, a win’s a win. If he thinks this squad’s taking things for granted, the lackadaisical stretches are a concern.
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