Miroslav Klose came off the bench to score for Germany - it saved them an embarrassing result.

REVIEW: Ghana impress, Klose saves blushes for Germany

It was a match filled with drama, excitement, shock and history.  Germany nearly stumbled in their second match of the group stage against a Ghana side that were even more impressive today than against the United States.  The heat and humidity played a massive role in the match as well, clearly to the disadvantage of the Germans, who still found it in themselves to grind out a result even though it was not the one they hoped for.

Ghana have reason to celebrate for their impressive display, but their loss to the United States in a match they should have won could well come back to bite them.

Ghana have reason to celebrate for their impressive display, but their loss to the United States in a match they should have won could well come back to bite them.

With the result ending in a 2-2 draw, Germany still have it all to do in their third match against the United States, while Ghana need Portugal to beat the United States to give them any realistic chance of keeping their slim hopes of progressing alive.

Starting XI’s

Germany (4-3-3): Manuel Neuer; Benedikt Howedes, Mats Hummels, Per Mertesacker, Jerome Boateng; Sami Khedira, Philipp Lahm, Toni Kroos; Mesut Ozil, Thomas Muller, Mario Gotze

Ghana (4-2-3-1): Fatau Dauda; Kwadwo Asamoah, Jonathan Mensah, John Boye, Harrison Afful; Mohamed Radiu, Sulley Muntari; Cristian Atsu, Kevin-Prince Boateng, Andre Ayew; Asamoah Gyan

First Half

Germany settled well in the opening stages of the match, but it was almost completely undone when a quick counter found Cristian Atsu into space on the right – his ball across goal found Asamoah Gyan but his effort was blazed high over the bar.  Ghana unsurprisingly were looking to use their pace out wide to counter the Germans, who possessed well early but did not carve out any clear cut chances initially.

 

Just a few minutes later Germany nearly responded.  Mesut Ozil played a tidy ball into space for Mario Gotze who’s low cross found Thomas Muller who rather than shoot laid off Toni Kross at the edge of the area, but his effort was blocked by Jonathan Mensah – much better intent by the Germans.  Ghana would counter again on Germany’s left flank again through Atsu who tucked in centrally and let-fly a stinging drive that was well saved by Manuel Neuer.  Ghana was surely targeting the out of place Benedikt Howedes on Germany’s left.

 

A howitzer from Sulley Muntari from over 25 yards out forced another strong save from Neuer minutes after Gotze was through on goal down the right but his final ball to Muller in the middle was poor and the chance was snuffed out.  Ghana still deserving credit for their tactical make-up on the day, sitting deeper and compact and forcing the German’s to be meticulous in their build up rather than quick and decisive movement in the final third.

 

Ghana kept finding space in behind Howedes and Jerome Boateng but just could not find that final bit of quality to convert their chances, much the same way they had failed against the United States.  The half would end 0-0 with the scoreline a decent reflection of the match as a whole.  Both sides created their chances, but Ghana looked slightly more threatening.

Second Half

Identifying the issues with the back line being exposed out wide for lack of pace, Joachim Low removed Boateng and brought on Shkodran Mustafi to replace him to.  Mario Gotze, the poster-boy of the new generation of German players, would give Germany a 1-0 lead in the 50th minute after a fantastic ball from Muller found him in the box less than 10 yards from goal – it was just the re-start the Germans needed on the day.  Kevin-Prince Boateng was removed and Jordan Ayew (young brother of Andre Ayew) as brought in to give Ghana even more pace in the counter.

Mario Gotze, Poster-boy of the next German generation, celebrates his opener early in the second-half

Mario Gotze, Poster-boy of the next German generation, celebrates his opener early in the second-half

Ghana would respond three minutes later however, when Andre Ayew headed home when he rose above both Per Mertesacker and Mustafi to meet Afful’s cross – it was a fantastic response from the African side.

Andre Ayew rose above Per Mertesacker and Shkodran Mustafi to head home the equalizer

Andre Ayew rose above Per Mertesacker and Shkodran Mustafi to head home the equalizer

Germany would switch off yet again ten minutes later when Gyan was put through on goal after lackluster defending at the back by Hummels and Mertesacker, and the Ghanaian captain would slot past Neuer to give the African nation a shock 2-1 lead.

Asamoah Gyan calmly beat Manuel Neuer for Ghana's second...but it would not last forever

Asamoah Gyan calmly beat Manuel Neuer for Ghana’s second…but it would not last forever

Low would finally respond – Gotze and Khedira were removed for Bastian Schweinsteiger and Miroslav Klose, Germany’s record goal scorer.  It would pay off immediately, when Klose finished from less than a yard after Howedes headed to the back post – Klose’s storied national team career for Germany now see’s him tied with Ronaldo on fifteen for the most goals in World Cup history.

Miroslav Klose slots home from close range to bring Germany back level and placed him first all-time for Germany in World Cup goals, and tied with Ronaldo for the most in it's history.

Miroslav Klose slots home from close range to bring Germany back level and placed him first all-time for Germany in World Cup goals, and tied with Ronaldo for the most in it’s history.

Ghana would make a reactionary sub of their own, with the impressive Atsu coming off for Wakaso Mubarak.  Soon after Emanuel Badu would come on to replace Mohamed Rabiu, with a hope that fresh legs would suit Ghana for the remainder of the match.

 

The match would end 2-2 in a very credible performance by Ghana, who ill feel hard done that they did not defeat the United States in their opener if they do in fact crash out of the World Cup.  Germany, who have not yet qualified for the knockout stages as so many expected, go into the final match with the United States with everything to play for, which is not good for the States.

Man of the Match

Sulley Muntari – Was a complete driving force for Ghana today. He pressed in midfield very well and was a complete box-to-box machine.  He threatened Neuer a few times as well and provided the killer ball for Gyan to put Ghana 2-1 up even though it was only for a short time.  The booking he received late means he misses out on Ghana’s third and final a match against Portugal, and he will be sorely missed.

Player ratings for Germany

Neuer (7.0) – Had zero chance on either goal by Ghana, but was excellent in his box as usual and he made a few great saves throughout the match.

Howedes (6.0) – Ended up getting the assist on Klose’s equalizer but still struggled to truly play well as a full-back and is always under threat when faced with pace.

Hummels (6.0) – Was marginally better than Mertesacker in the middle, and was equally responsible for poor awareness which lead to Ghana’s second.

Mertesacker (6.0) – Put in a disappointing performance.  Exposed for lack of pace, and mentally and positionally sub-par, which is far off his usual efficiency.

Boateng (5.0) – Was exposed far more this match than against Portugal. Ghana’s pace certainly gave him a torrid time of it and I wonder when Grosskreutz will be preferred there.

Lahm (6.0) – His performance today really helps remind people that he is a right-back who has been questionably transitioned into a defensive midfielder.  Always works hard, but his inability to deal with the physical midfield of Ghana was evident.

Khedira (6.5) – He was a little bit better than average, but like so many others for Germany, so much more is expected from him.  Should have had a goal as well.

Kroos (7.0) – Was very good at creating from deeper areas all match – his transition from attacking midfielder to central midfield seems to be paying off in the end.

Ozil (6.5) – His creativity on the day is not in question, but he often times made the wrong choice when deciding between shooting and passing – he needs to be more incisive.

Muller (7.0) – Always threatened in and around the box as usual.  He played well and should have scored as well, but his performance did not regress, which is important to note.

Gotze (7.0) – Got himself a goal and played well over all, but lacked the final killer ball on multiple occasions early on in the match.

Mustafi (5.0) – Came on for Boateng and was equally as poor.  He was directly responsible for Ghana’s opener as well, failing to not only pick up his man, but also did not make an effort to challenge for the ball in the air as well.

Klose (7.5) – Came on to make an instant impact when he scored less than a minute after being introduced for Gotze.  Should have also had a second goal as well, but his impact for the national team can never be understated.

Schweinsteiger (7.0) – Came on for Khedira and not only was better than him, but he helped change the shape of the match in Germany’s favor in midfield.

Player ratings for Ghana

Dauda (7.0) – Commanded his box quite well and was unafraid to come out and claim crosses, and against Germany, that is important.  Did well in replacing Kwarasey.

Asamoah (6.5) – Did not have a massive influence in the attack for Ghana like we see from him at Juventus, but he was still solid.  His flank was a little too leaky though.

Mensah (7.0) – Defended quite well throughout the match, really doing an excellent job to cancel out the passing lanes that Germany routinely tried to seek out.

Boye (6.5) – More exposed than Mensah over the course of the match, but he was not poor at the back.  Needs to do a better job of recognizing when and when not to step up.

Afful (7.0) – Got himself an assist on Ayew’s opener and was very good in both the offensive and defensive thirds of the pitch.  His flank was the far stronger of the two.

Rabiu (6.5) – He put in another decent shift like he did against the United States, but just a little more from him is needed.  He gets caught out of position a little too often.

Muntari (8.0) – Definitely the man of the match and he put in  all-round fantastic performance.  Was impressive on either side of the ball, got an assist and never stopped running.

Atsu (7.0) – He was incredibly dangerous in the first half not only creating chances for himself but for others.  He fell off before his substitution due to fatigue no doubt given the weather, but he was very good.

Boateng (5.5) – For someone of his talent, so many wonder why he has not featured a great deal for Ghana – his performance today explains why.  He truly did very little throughout.

A.Ayew (7.5) – Got himself a goal and was a massive threat from start to finish during the match, regardless of what area of the pitch he popped up in.

Gyan (7.5) – As usual, he was great in leading the line for Ghana.  Took his goal well and constantly threatened Mertesacker and Hummels.

J.Ayew (6.5) – He came on offering pace and fresh legs and was more or less solid, but still not good enough to replace Atsu in the XI, but certainly better than Boateng.

Mubarak (6.0) – He came on and worked very hard, which is what is always expected of him, but didn’t have any telling moments to effect the match.

Badu (6.0) – Decent when he came on, but didn’t stand out.  Was not poor by any means, just average.

Tags: 2014 World Cup Germany Ghana Review Soccer

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