When the German formation to play Ghana was released, there was a striking familiarity to it.
If you noticed it too, that’s because US fans have seen it before.
Jurgen Klinsmann played exactly the same 4-3-2-1 formation in their match against Ghana, as well as against Nigeria in the final friendly of the send-off series.
In fact, it’s so similar, you can pick out direct comparisons in player styles between the two teams.
The official match printout doesn’t hide the similarities, with even the layout exactly the same:
After the game, the Germans described their formation as a 4-2-3-1, but viewing the players involved, and you can see the direct correlation.
Philipp Lahm in the holding role = Kyle Beckerman. Tony Kroos at the wing, a player who can run a lot and play both forward and back = Alejandro Bedoya. Sami Khedira, normally a defensive midfielder tasked with clogging the middle on defense and stretching wide on offense = Jermaine Jones.
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Then you move forward. Mesut Ozil, known for his dynamic abilities and versatility = Clint Dempsey. Mario Gotze (while this isn’t the best of comparisons) is an attacking midfielder who relies on creativity through the middle to produce for teammates = Michael Bradley.
Obviously there’s a gap in quality, but the styles are almost exactly the same in every position.
Now the question becomes, did Germany use this layout thanks to the US victory over Ghana, or is it something they’ve utilized in the past? The answer is it’s been used before, as they employed the exact same lineup in the 4-0 victory over Portugal.
So, as we can see, while Klinsmann has been successful molding his abilities and coaching styles to the players available to him in the United States, there are still German roots he taps into on occasion, and the victory over Ghana was one of them.
The downfall for Germany came in their midfield. Philipp Lahm and Sami Khedira both had a poor games in their holding roles. They combined for just one lone tackle completed, and their marking was poor, which allowed Ghana to build better chances up the middle.
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In comparison, Jermaine Jones and Kyle Beckerman combined for seven tackles and two interceptions, and Jones was a beast in the air. As a result, if forced Ghana much further wide. In addition, Toni Kroos had a great game passing, but his side was vulnerable to the Ghanian attack, and they took advantage:
As you can see, there was much more available for Ghana in the middle against Germany, and everything against the United States came from out wide.
It could be argued that in this formation that’s obviously rooted in German soccer, the United States deployed it better than the origins of the style.
The goal was a war of attrition against the Ghanians, and the United States won, whereas the Germans couldn’t pull it off.