Germany likely weren't counting on a struggle so tight, but a 2-1 extra-time win over Algeria on Monday evening sees the European giants through to this year's World Cup quarter-finals.
But on a night where the German outfielders failed to muster the same kind of attacking extravaganza seen in previous outings, it was goalkeeper Manuel Neuer who drew the most headlines.
The German defence left their stopper in numerous precarious positions with their high line, but a swashbuckling Neuer was equal to the task put before him. Squawka, Fox Soccer, SPORT and WhoScored.com took note of his roaming presence:
Gary Lineker and Eurosport's Alex Chick had differing opinions on the tactic, however, with the former warning of a red-card risk, while the latter was evidently left impressed by the technical ability on show:
Increasingly certain that Manuel Neuer is a better central midfielder than Steven Gerrard.— Alex Chick (@alex_eurosport) June 30, 2014
World Soccer Talk shows footage on particularly impressive contribution from Neuer, which Adam Hirshfield of beIN Sports and the Mail Online were quick to praise:
Decent outlet pass from Neuer, that. Just a 70-yard drop-kick right on the chest of the sprinting Schurrle. Not bad.— Adam Hirshfield (@ahirshfield) June 30, 2014
The Guardian's Nooruddean Choudry jokes that Neuer's performance eased the absence of centre-back Mats Hummels, while James Tyler of ESPN illustrated just how important Neuer's approach to the game became as his defence tired:
I thought Mustafi had been brought in to replace Hummels. Turns out Neuer has.— Nooruddean (@BeardedGenius) June 30, 2014
Per Mertesacker literally can't run. Benedikt Howedes has flat tires for feet. But Manuel Neuer loves it.— James Tyler (@JamesTylerESPN) June 30, 2014
Algeria's Rais M'Bolhi shouldn't be left out of the praise, however, and John Sinnott of CNN, along with BBC Sport's Dan Walker, were on hand to give both goalkeepers their dues:
And just as Neuer was a hero for Die Mannschaft at one end of the pitch, substitute Andre Schurrle saved their bacon at the other, coming on as a second-half introduction for Low's side.
Initially, ESPN FC"s Dermot Corrigan lauded the tactical shift that Schurrle's presence put into effect, but also points out what a missed figure the injured Marco Reus has been:
Schurrle might make Germany a bit more direct. But am guessing what Low would really like to have done was put on Reus.— Dermot Corrigan (@dermotmcorrigan) June 30, 2014
World Soccer Talk took note of the improvement, too, with the Chelsea forward not taking long to settle into his stride. Meanwhile, The Guardian's Jacob Steinberg critiqued him for missed opportunities:
@honigstein Schurrle should do better too— Jacob Steinberg (@JacobSteinberg) June 30, 2014
However, any mistakes in normal time were soon corrected after the initial 90 minutes. The Mirror's Oliver Holt praised his extra-time opener, while Natalie Pirks of BBC News credited his influence as a whole:
Germany take the lead. Schurrle with super finish in second minute of extra time— Oliver Holt (@OllieHolt22) June 30, 2014
Schurrle has made the difference since coming on. Looked sharp— Natalie Pirks (@Natpirks) June 30, 2014
Or was it too good? Paul Wilson of The Guardian questions if that might have been the case:
Was that a great finish or an accident? Which bit of Schurrle put it in?— Paul Wilson (@paulwilsongnm) June 30, 2014
Squawka breaks down the impact of Schurrle compared to that of the man he replaced against the Fennec Foxes, Mario Goetze, and Bleacher Report's Stefan Bienkowski didn't leave out Low's hand in the win:
Andre Schurrle vs Mario Gotze tonight: Goals: 1-0. Shots: 5-1. Pass accuracy: 81%-80%. Take ons completed: 1-0. pic.twitter.com/lBQPBgexYa— Squawka Football (@Squawka) June 30, 2014
Another great sub from Low today. Schurrle completely changed this front line.— Stefan Bienkowski (@SBienkowski) June 30, 2014
It was a more tiresome battle than they will have been expecting from Algeria, but Germany are assured of their place in this year's World Cup quarter-finals. Mesut Ozil added a second in the 119th minute before Abdelmoumene Djabou gave Algeria a consolation at the death.
France may not be as comforting in allowing Neuer to parade outside his box with the likes of Karim Benzema and Mathieu Valbuena lurking, and Thomas Mueller will need to bounce back from this disappointing display if he's to keep any Golden Boot dreams alive.
Meanwhile, Les Bleus might be feeling more confident of going up against a side that played 120 minutes in their round of 16 tie, showing some weaknesses which might have been previously unaccounted for.