The match could look like a World Cup final: Germany welcomed France in an amicable game last Tuesday to finish the international 2017 season with a top level game.
While the two teams had planned to make some squad turnover, the match was a pleasant one with very high technical level. The draw at the end not matter (2-2), but the content and managers choices showed some good perspectives for the two teams for 2018 World Cup in Russia.
With Jerome Boateng injured, Joachim Low decided to align Niklas Sule with Mats Hummels in central defense, while Emre Can replaced Joshua Kimmich as right back and Marvin Plattenhardt (Hertha Berlin) fill in left back position. The last one played very well and undoubtedly won some points for the World Cup in a position where Germany find difficulties to find the right player.
The rest of the team was really balanced, with a little surprise on the right side with Ilkay Gundogan while Leroy Sane or Julian Brandt have stayed on the bench.
In french side, the team was a little bit more changed compared to the usual first team, with players like Paul Pogba, Nkolo Kante or Olivier Giroud injured.
The midfield was composed by Adrien Rabiot as sentinel, a position he doesn’t like, with Corentin Tolisso and Blaise Matuidi in front of him. In attack, Didier Deschamps chose to play with speed qualities of Anthony Martial, Alexandre Lacazette and Kylian Mbappe.
From the beginning of the match, Germany played their usual tactic which is a mix with ball possession and high pressing. While France’s composition could let think they would play in counter attack, it was something else. After first ten minutes, France began to play is game frankly, thanks to good skills aptitude from the midfield lead by a very good Corentin Tolisso, able to give through passes and a french block positioned very high when they lose the ball, embarrassing German first pass.
Since the last game against Wales, we could see a change from France right and left back in their position when the team has the ball, which is higher than before.
Nevertheless, Germany still managed to play its possession game, with a huge Toni Kroos, who did not hesitate to come down get the ball to give out it better, sometimes making the German composition look like a three-sided defence.
The Real Madrid player showed another time that he is one of the best playmaker, helped by good performance from Sami Khedira and Mesut Ozil – who is very different than when he plays for Arsenal.
However, France had a good defense position, with midfielders helped by their wingers, making a first 5 men line difficult to breach for the Germans.
The crowd had to wait the 32 minutes to see the first goal. A wonderful one, with a terrific one-touch sequence and a mad Anthony Martial dribble then giving the ball to Alexandre Lacazette with the goal wide open.
Though the first half was a very good one in term of game qualities, the second one was a little bit more disconcerted. This allowed to see three more goals, all in counter attack.
France found difficulties to keep their pressing at the same level, allowing Germany to develop its game. With Antonio Rudiger replacing Mats Hummels, Germany’s defence found it difficult against the speed of the France attack, and Joachim Low will have to find solutions in defence because it is not comfortable and recall the defence of Bayern Munich before the Hummels-Boateng era.
While the France leaded 2-1 at the 90 minute, it was necessary to wait the added minutes to see a final action initiate by a splendid pass from Mesut Ozil, letting Mario Gotze give the ball in a one-touch pass to Lars Stindl who score in the last minute.
As it was a friendly game, it felt Germany were not at 100%. It’s confirmed by the pass network above: Germany possession game is too horizontal to be dangerous.
This game probably wouldn’t count for the Germans in order to prepare the World Cup.
On the contrary, France showed a good performance: able to either defend strongly and attack quickly with high quality. Their pass network is at the opposite of the German one with strong vertical pass lines.
Without forgetting Ousmane Dembele, Thomas Lemar, Dimitri Payet or Kingsley Coman, Didier Deschamps will have some trouble finding good chemistry in attack while the main choices for other positions seem to be almost made. Nevertheless, France still have no real game plan and keep relying on their individual talent, which is undoubtedly its main problem in view of the 2018 World Cup.