Germany emerged victorious from the 2014 World Cup's first quarter-final on Friday, beating France 1-0, courtesy of a first-half goal from centre-back Mats Hummels.
Die Mannschaft weren't at their best against Les Bleus but gave up little space, and they defended their lead expertly in the second half.
Hummels scored from a set piece after just 12 minutes, heading home a cross from Toni Kroos. Bleacher Report UK has the Vine:
WhoScored.com points out the defender has been in great scoring form of late:
Mats Hummels: Has now scored 3 goals in his last 8 apps for Germany, after scoring none in his previous 15 games #ger— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) July 4, 2014
Bleacher Report UK shared this beautiful image of the goal:
Hummels was by far the best player on the field, easily winning the battle against an in-form Karim Benzema thanks to his excellent vision and positioning. The Borussia Dortmund man was in the right place at the right time all afternoon, including on his goal.
Speaking of Hummels' strike, that goal was the first in regulation fans had seen in a while, as World Cup 2014 notes:
Mats Hummels' goal is the first goal in regualtion time since Yobo's own goal. The last 7 goals at the World Cup were scored in extra time.— World Cup 2014 (@WorldCupPosts) July 4, 2014
Les Bleus had one golden opportunity to tie things up late, when Benzema found some space for himself in the German box. Firing on goal from close range, Hummels threw himself in the path of the ball, somehow keeping the it from crossing the line.
Futbol Bible couldn't believe it:
WHAT A BLOCK HUMMELS! #GER— FutbolBible (@FutbolBible) July 4, 2014
Goal's Dermot Corrigan thought Hummels' return to the starting XI following illness had a far bigger impact on the match than Philipp Lahm's return to the back four:
Hummels return to the team probably having a bigger impact on Germany than where Lahm plays. Among best CBs in competition so far.— Dermot Corrigan (@dermotmcorrigan) July 4, 2014
Queens Park Rangers' Joey Barton was very impressed with the German centre-back:
Hummels has been the difference here. Outstanding. Be a great capture for Man Utd if they get him. German machine rolls on...— Joseph Barton (@Joey7Barton) July 4, 2014
Teammate Thomas Muller suffered a frustrating afternoon, spending much of his time isolated by a solid French defensive performance. The German top scorer rarely found himself in a strong position, and he spent much of his time down on the pitch rather than running left and right.
Bleacher Report's Anthony Lopopolo did like his acrobatic touch on this particular pass:
Sportsnet's John Molinaro was unimpressed with the forward's constant complaining to the official and diving for fouls:
God love, Muller. He's a fabulous player. But my goodness, he goes down far too easily. A little Klinsmann in him, in that regard. #GER— John Molinaro (@JohnMolinaro) July 4, 2014
In contrast, freelance football writer Graham Ruthven enjoyed watching Muller simplify the game, something he does better than most:
What I love about Thomas Muller is that his simplicity/lack of a clear position reminds us of how we can over complicate football.— Graham Ruthven (@grahamruthven) July 4, 2014
Muller did have a comical miss on goal near the end of the match, completely missing the ball from close range. StatsBomb's Ted Knutson was humoured:
That ball had to be like 4 times it's normal size. Perfect weight, perfect location and Muller just flat misses it.— Ted Knutson (@mixedknuts) July 4, 2014
Germany didn't waste much energy stopping the French attack, and they'll be going into the semi-finals still relatively fresh and untested.
The winner of the match between Brazil and Colombia will be waiting for them, and with both teams favouring the attacking approach, Die Mannschaft will have a real battle on their hands.
France couldn't find a way to win the battle for possession in the centre of the pitch until very late, and it effectively took away much of the spaces they like to exploit out wide.
The Brazilians and Colombians both enjoy keeping the pitch wide open, however, and perhaps for the first time in the tournament, the Germans will face a team with even more attacking prowess than the European heavyweights.