Germany finished their World Cup preparations with a bang on Friday night, with an emphatic 6-1 win over lowly Armenia, in the heart of Mainz, at the Coface Arena.
Although Joachim Loew's side may have left it late, with all six goals coming in the second half, it will undoubtedly raise spirits amongst his squad to have finally exorcised some demons and truly put a team to the sword.
Following Sunday's dejected 2-2 draw with Cameroon, the pressure that was building on Loew and his injury-ravaged squad was reaching toxic levels, and a strong performance in their final friendly match ahead of the World Cup in Brazil was certainly a necessity.
The first half offered plenty of promise, when Loew made the smart decision to drop Mario Goetze and Mesut Ozil—two players who haven't looked themselves in quite some time for club or country—for the energetic and hungry Andre Schurrle and Thomas Mueller.
The Bundestrainer also reverted back to a 4-3-3 system, which allowed his side to play a central midfield trio of Sami Khedira, Toni Kroos and Philipp Lahm—the perfect tactic to ensure that Khedira's runs up the pitch and Kroos' attacking tendencies were conveniently coupled with Lahm's defensive expertise.
As such, we saw a German side that looked much fresher, much smarter and much more direct in attacking its Armenian opponents. Where Goetze and Co. looked tired and unimaginative; Mueller, Marco Reus and Schurrle showed no problem in switching positions and creating chance after chance.
Loew on Reus injury: "I don't know yet what it is, we have to wait. You could see it was swollen and I hope it's not a ligament."— Bundesliga_reporter (@rylandjames) June 6, 2014
The only real downside to the first half, aside from not scoring an actual goal, was Reus' ankle injury, which saw the Dortmund forward limp off the park and later be rushed straight to hospital to find out the extent of his injury. For most, the Borussian winger has undoubtedly been Germany's brightest player so far this year and would be a horrible miss in Brazil.
Yet, the match continued on with Lukas Podolski replacing Reus just before the break, and Ozil coming on for Lahm at half time. The country may have been holding its breath in anticipation of any news regarding its fallen star, but Germany pushed on in search of a vital win.
That was the free-running Poldi from 2006 tonight. Vintage stuff, more if the same please next week.— Der Chef (@fussballchef) June 6, 2014
Oddly enough, it was the introduction of some of the more registered members of the squad in the second half that truly turned things around for Germany.
Schurrle capped his fantastic week for Die Mannschaft with two goals in as many matches, after Podolski marched down the left wing on the 52nd minute and drilled in another of his signature crosses to the feet of his Premier League colleague.
Armenia would have their moment in the limelight when Kevin Grosskreutz brought down Gevorg Chazaryan in the German box, with his first touch of the ball in the 69th minute, before Dortmund's own Henrikh Mkhitaryan converted on the following penalty.
But from then on in, it was all Germany, as the introduction of Miroslav Klose, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Goetze seemed to galvanise the side and push them on to an emphatic win. Just 20 minutes after Mkhitaryan had scored the equalising goal, Germany had responded with five and finished the game at a canter.
Germany Player Ratings
Brilliant last 15 minutes from Germany. But 10 days from the Portugal game, half the starting lineup still undecided.— Cristian Nyari (@Cnyari) June 6, 2014
Armenia Player Ratings