Euro 2012: Germany Advances, but Are Second-Half Struggles Cause for Worry?
At first glance, Germany should be feeling pretty good about themselves going forward into the knockout stages of the Euro 2012 tournament.
Not only did they sweep their group, they swept the group known as "the group of death." Consecutive victories against Portugal, the Netherlands and Denmark are nothing to snigger at.
However, for about 30 minutes in the second half of Sunday's game against Denmark, Germany wasn't even assured of advancing past the group stages. They didn't look as dominant as usual.
As impressive as Germany looked in the first half of the Denmark game, (only numerous near-misses by Germany in the first half kept Denmark in the game), they were equally as unimpressive for the first 30 minutes of the second half.
As I sat watching the second half of the game, I came to a conclusion that just an hour earlier seemed almost impossible: Germany could actually get eliminated before the knockout stages of the tournament.
After Ronaldo scored his second goal of the match in the Portugal-Netherlands game, it became clear that if Denmark somehow managed to get another goal, there was a very real possibility that Germany would go from top of the group to being eliminated, just like that.
So what exactly happened in the second half for Germany?
It appears that they weren't quite sure what strategy they wanted to adopt. Play for the tie and hope that Denmark doesn't somehow sneak in a devastating goal, or go for the win and open yourself up to a higher possibility of making a mistake and letting the Danes get a serious scoring opportunity?
Are Germany's second-half woes against Denmark reason for alarm?
For a good 30 minutes in the second half, Germany really couldn't decide which strategy to use, and it showed. Their play wasn't very coherent, and the usually brilliant Germans looked uncertain and tentative.
They controlled the ball in Denmark's half for a huge chunk of the second half, yet didn't really generate any serious scoring opportunities during that time. The only serious scoring opportunities during that time period came when the Danes went on the counter-attack.
Badstuber was extremely fortunate not to have a penalty called against him for tugging Bendtner's shirt in the box on one such counter.
Eventually, the Germans looked like themselves again as Mesut Oezil found Lars Bender on a textbook German counter-attack, ending the worry for Germany fans all across the globe.
Yet the question still remains: were Germany's early second-half woes merely an anomaly produced by a unique situation, or are they a sign of weaknesses that could trouble a German side expected to make it to the finals?
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