Mexico pulled off the equivalent of a football earthquake when they stunned defending champions Germany 1-0 in their opening World Cup game on Sunday.
Football’s glitterati were surprised by Mexico’s fearless approach but not Mexico coach Juan Carlos Osorio who had predicted the result a day earlier.
The Central Americans were better prepared as they often exploited weaknesses within Germany’s team structure. Weakness number one on the part of Joachim Loew’s reigning champions was failure to cover right back Joshua Kimmich each time he bombed forward. By the time Hirving Lonzano netted Mexico’s winner, Germany had already been repeatedly been laid bare through the space left by young Kimmich.
Better organised teams usually use a sitting holding midfielder or central defender to cover their overlapping fullbacks. Germany’s problem was that neither Sami Khedira nor Toni Kroos executed this function whereas Julian Draxler was an invisible force. Often, all three were up in the excitement of attack.
Die Mannschaft’s dysfunctional approach during a most forgettable first half, was the poor relationship between the back four and central midfield. It was as if the four time World Cup winners were not a unit but segmented into three – defense, midfield and attack. Osorio’s charged up charges were thus able to repeatedly run into the space just in front of Matt Hummels and Jerome Boateng, but behind Khedira and Kroos.
As the World Cup’s most consistent team, Germany can of course recover to make an impact. But coach Loew must first address the structural issues that bedeviled the world champions in Russia 2018’s most engrossing match so far.
Credit to Mexico whose excellent work rate, intensity and breakneck speed each time they won possession caused Germany no end of problems. From my vantage point of view, several questions were reverberating in my mind: What is Germany’s Plan B? Wouldn’t Leroy Sane’s pace have helped cope with the speedy CONCACAF champions?
May be your guess is as good as mine.