Germany Shows Long-Lost Qualities In 2-0 Win Over Peru
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It might have been just a friendly against Peru, but Germany won a game thanks to two goals scored by a proper no.9 without conceding. Both those things have been a rarity since Germany won the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
Sure, there have been spells in which Germany has been good since winning the World Cup. The 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup comes to mind or Euro 2016, where Germany reached the semifinal and played with a proper no.9 in the form of Mario Gomez.
But a performance like the one against Peru on Saturday has become a rarity, even against smaller nations. One just has to think back to the recent debacle at the 2022 World Cup last November, where Germany’s 2-1 defeat to Japan would ultimately pave the way to a group stage exit—the second time in a row at the world’s biggest stage.
Hence the 2-0 win over Peru, thanks to two goals by Niclas Füllkrug (12’ and 33’), will be seen as a big step in the right direction. Füllkrug, in fact, was already one of the few bright spots of this Germany team at the World Cup, and in the 30-year-old striker, national team coach Hansi Flick might have finally found a long-term successor to Miroslav Klose.
Füllkrug, in fact, should have had a hattrick. But instead, Kai Havertz hit the post when Germany was awarded a penalty in the second half. Looking back, there would have been little doubt that the Werder striker would have put away the spot-kick. The game against Peru again highlighted why Füllkrug is increasingly becoming a hot commodity.
But he was not the only positive. Flick underscored that he has understood that the world is changing tactically and started the game with two real strikers in Füllkrug and Timo Werner. The two forwards were flanked by Havertz and Florian Wirtz, who finally celebrated his return to the national team after his ACL injury suffered last season—another positive on Saturday night.
Defensively, Flick will also draw some positives. The center-back pairing of Matthias Ginter and Nico Schlotterbeck, flanked by debutant Marius Wolf and David Raum, withstood a very physical Peruvian attack. Goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen, who wore the no.1 and is now on the path to replace the injured Manuel Neuer, was almost perfect as well, only giving the ball away once in the dying moments of the game—his defense dealt with that giveaway quickly.
A few other things also stood out. Serge Gnabry seemed lively when he came on and had the best chance of the second half through an acrobatic volley. The Bayern striker collided with Peru goalkeeper Pedro Gallese just moments prior and, despite a bloody nose, showed signs that he could be useful for this team.
The same can be said about Mario Götze. The Frankfurt midfielder was full of ideas after coming on, demonstrating why he is one of the best smart passers in the Bundesliga this season. Götze has re-invented his game at PSV Eindhoven and then Frankfurt, playing deeper but covering significant ground, showing fitness levels that have been unparalleled in his career.
Finally, there were debutants Kevin Schade and Mergim Berisha. Both came off the bench in the second half when it was already 2-0 for Germany. Schade’s speed, in particular, caused issues for Peru. Berisha, in turn, still needs to show that he can be a long-term player for his squad.
How much all of this matters remains to be seen. Peru should not be underestimated, and Germany has shown an uncanny ability to throw games away against opponents significantly below their level. Perhaps that is the main takeaway from this match, Germany faced a limited opponent and got the job done with minimal effort, scoring two goals without conceding; at this stage of this squad’s development, that should be considered a successful evening.
Manuel Veth is the host of the Bundesliga Gegenpressing Podcast and the Area Manager USA at Transfermarkt. He has also been published in the Guardian, Newsweek, Howler, Pro Soccer USA, and several other outlets. Follow him on Twitter: @ManuelVeth