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21 June 2014

Germany must prove thrashing Portugal was no fluke against Ghana.

A new set of challenges awaits Germany against the Black Stars.
The German national team’s opening match against Portugal surprised even the brightest optimists among Germany’s fans. The one team, which the German media feared the most at the start of the tournament, was demolished in a comprehensive fashion. Tomorrow evening, Joachim Löw’s team could potentially book their ticket to the knock out stages of the tournament.
For Germany, Ghana is a blast from the recent past. In the last World Cup Die Nationalmannschaft barely managed to pull off a win against the Black Stars, thanks to Mesut Özil’s wonder strike, the match’s only goal:

The dreaded second game.

Germany tends to struggle in their second group match in the World Cup. Back in 1998, Die Nationalmannschaft managed to achieve a fortunate 2-2 draw against Yugoslavia, four years later Rudi Völler’s team managed only a draw against Ireland, and in 2010 Germany were beaten 1-0 by Serbia.

Four years ago, Germany could have easily been eliminated from the tournament during the group stages when they faced Ghana, the side who most effectively broke up Germany’s play in the middle of the park. The match was a must-win situation for Germany.

This time around, the tables are turned after Germany’s win over Portugal and Ghana’s heart breaking loss against the USA. The pressure on Ghana is immense, as their coach James Kwesi Appiah revealed to the German football publication 11 Freunde ahead of the tournament that the Black Stars’ aim is to win the 2014 World Cup.

Germany are well aware that Ghana bring a different kind of physicality to the pitch than Portugal. Ghana’s pressing game might force Germany to speed up their game, introducing the distinct possibility of more German passing errors. Finally, the match will be played at 1pm local time, meaning that the afternoon heat might play a considerable role. Per Mertesacker suggested in Thursday’s presser that the Ghanaian players might be more used to these circumstances than the German national team.

Few changes expected.

One reason for Germany’s win against Portugal was Löw’s ability to adapt to the specific challenges Bento’s tactical philosophy. Löw will certainly change his tactics somewhat to meet a new set of challenges on Saturday. However, it is highly unlikely that Löw is going to change his starting line up drastically. The only player who might be left out is Mats Hummels, who is currently in a race against time to recover from the injury he picked up against Portugal.

The biggest question marks for Germany ahead of the game are how Mario Götze and Mesut Özil are going to fare in a more physical game, because both players sometimes struggle in these types of matches. Furthermore, Germany’s defence was happy to sit back and to absorb the pressure against Portugal, but the Black Stars left a lot of room behind their full backs in the match against the US, so whether or not Jerome Boateng and Benedikt Höwedes can exploit that room is a key question.



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