Sochi witnessed one of the best matches in the tournament so far. The current holders shocked a resilient Swedish team with an exquisite Toni Kross strike with the last shot of the day. Germany looked to dominate proceedings but poor finishes upfront by Julian Draxler and Thomas Muller denied them taking the lead. The Swedes on the other hand looked extremely dangerous and opened the score sheets with a superb finish when Ola Toivonen lifted the ball of an onrushing Manuel Neuer. Sweden lead 1-0 going into the lemon break. Joachim Loew introduced the veteran striker Mario Gomez at the start of the second half and his presence in the rival’s penalty box made an immediate impact when Marco Reus scored the equalizer in the 48th minute. Germany relentlessly attacked but could not score and things went from bad to worse when Jerome Boateng received a second yellow card and was sent off. Germany looked like they were nearing a World Cup exit until Toni Kroos whipped in a masterly 95th-minute free-kick to edge past the unlucky Swedes. Germany now need to beat South Korea and hope Sweden do not beat already-qualified Mexico if they are to avoid an upset. Let’s now analyze the hits and misses from the Germany versus Sweden match.
Toni Kroos (Germany)- It was a match of two contrasting halves for Kroos. Although he dictated the German midfield in the first half, it was filled with miss passes and he was often dispossessed of the ball. Toivonen scored from his error in the midfield. But in the second half we saw his mastery. Kroos took charge of the midfield and dominated play like none. His defense splitting passes were wasted by the profligacy of his team mates upfront. When his team was at the brink of exit, he curled in a wicked free kick to earn his team a priceless win. Overall his passing accuracy was a brilliant 93% and made an astonishing 17 long balls. He had 3 successful dribbles, 2 key passes and won almost all the one-to-one duels. Rating-9/10
Marco Reus (Germany)- Reus made his first World Cup start and looked extremely sharp throughout the game. He looked the most likely to create or score for his team. His close range equalizer at the beginning of the second half brought back the momentum for his team. His inter-play with Kroos was a treat to watch. In the match his passing accuracy was a decent 80% and had one very important assist to his credit. Rating-8/10
Ola Toivonen (Sweden)- His massive physical presence disrupted the Germans at the back. He frequently dropped back to the midfield and aided them in breaking Germany’s passing game. He looked very threatening going forward as well. His exquisite lob over Neuer from a Viktor Claesson pass will be long remembered. Rating-7/10
Thomas Muller (Germany)- The enigmatic German poacher looked off colour from the onset. His sluggish finish in front of the goal and poor ball control has been extremely detrimental for his team. With this performance he will not be assured of a starting place in the upcoming match against South Korea. Julian Brandt looks more than a decent replacement. Rating-3/10
Julian Draxler (Germany)- He was largely anonymous in the first 45 minutes that he took part in. He missed a sitter in the 3rd minute of the match. The lead could have added an extra dimension to Germany’s gameplay. His poor ball control ravaged more attacks than he created for his team. He just could not link up with any team mate or create anything going forward. He was rightly substituted in the second half. Loew should immediately drop him for the sake of Germany. Rating-3/10
Jerome Boateng (Germany)- He had a shocker on field. He looked very shaky in defense and his understanding with Rudiger in his own half was awful. He was very fortunate not to concede a penalty when he nudged Berg from the back in his own box. His played irresponsibly and was shown a red card which could have easily been curtains for his team in Russia. In his absence Loew will start Niklas Sule or Hummels in the next crucial encounter against the South Koreans. Rating-4/10