Things for Germany Fans to Look Forward to in Wake of Draw vs. Ghana
Germany were held to a 2-2 draw against Ghana on Saturday, a result that proved to be a real wake-up call for the Mannschaft after their 4-0 rout of Portugal in their World Cup opener.
Joachim Low's side opened the scoring through Mario Goetze, but they soon fell behind after goals from Andre Ayew and Asamoah Gyan. Miroslav Klose later drew the Europeans level.
The result was a surprise for Germany but also revealed new sides of the team and taught it some lessons. Click "Begin Slideshow" for analysis of what fans can expect from Low's team as they look to steer back on track for World Cup glory.
(Maybe) Another Saulto-Klose
Miroslav Klose played his first minutes of the World Cup on Saturday and had an immediate impact, equalizing for Germany with his first touch. The ex-Kaiserslautern, Werder Bremen and Bayern Munich man celebrated in vintage style with his trademark front-flip, known as the "saulto-Klose."
With his 15th career World Cup goal, the Lazio man became the third player (along with Pele and Uwe Seeler) in history to score at four World Cups and drew level with Ronaldo as the highest scoring player in the history of the tournament.
Despite his heroics, Klose is unlikely to be given a starting role at any point in the tournament, save a possible third place match. He's 36 years old and struggled for pace in Serie A; at a higher level and in harsher conditions he certainly will find it hard to play at a fast pace. But as he proved on Saturday, he still is very useful as an impact substitute. And he just might get one more goal to surpass Ronaldo's record.
More of the Unproven Combination of Schweinsteiger, Kroos and Lahm
The midfield combination of Bastian Schweinsteiger, Philipp Lahm and Toni Kroos under Pep Guardiola's Bayern Munich proved last season to be one-dimensional, predictable and rather slow with the ball. And based on his selection against Portugal, which left vice-captain Schweinsteiger out of the lineup, it appeared that the trainer was aware of the limitations of such a trio.
However, Low may change his mind on his midfield in the near future. Lahm had a poor match against Ghana but, as captain, he is unlikely to be dropped. Sami Khedira was woeful, his lack of fitness following a long-term injury clearly showing in the heat and humidity on Saturday.
Schweinsteiger replaced Khedira for the final 20 minutes and helped revive a Germany team that needed the intensity, drive and just plain fresh legs he had to offer. The 29-year-old has often been injured as of late and had a difficult season, but he just might have earned himself a reappraisal by Low.
The manner in which Germany conceded two goals not long after finally opening the scoring is certainly a negative point. However, it's also worth noting just how hard the Mannschaft fought to win back their point and indeed aim to claim two more.
The on-ground conditions left Low with little choice but to play conservatively, then really go for the win in the final stages. Once a goal behind, Germany turned up the pace and played with real heart, motivation and belief.
Such determination hasn't always been a characteristic of the Mannschaft as of late, and their snatching a draw shows that the Germans have the guile and team spirit ("teamgeist") to come back from behind. It's a good precedent for potentially much harder matches to come should they advance to the knockout rounds.
Changes to the Lineup
Joachim Low values consistency as part of his strategy and is especially wary of making unnecessary substitutions after his continual rotations eventually led to disaster at Euro 2012. But he will be forced to tweak his team in Germany's final group match against the United States.
Low admitted to ARD (h/t Goal.com) after the Ghana game that the players were "incredibly exhausted." Per FIFA, the outfielders covered 4.8 percent more ground than against Portugal overall. Mario Goetze spent a whopping 15 percent of his time on the pitch in what were deemed "high-intensity" situations. Thomas Mueller ran further (12,224 meters) while also making more sprints (63) than any other player. And this came in 84-degree Fahnreheit weather at 61 percent humidity.
Accordingly, Low will likely make some changes to his lineup in the United States match. He'll have some who are fresher and who are more tolerant of the weather. These are the players he'll need to rely upon against the USA.
Germany Playing at Full Throttle Against the USA
Germany could have qualified and potentially all but won their group on Saturday had they beaten Ghana. But after struggling and disappointing against the Black Stars, they will need a result against the United States in their final group stage match.
Joachim Low will be keen not only to pick up all three points, but to make a statement. The Germans were able to do just that against Portugal, but their confidence and momentum were shaken on Saturday. The United States are vulnerable and have their limitations; Low will be keen to exploit them.