Some things can’t be explained by tactics, formations or anything logical. Germany were playing in fifth gear for 55 minutes, but somehow, out of nowhere, Sweden came back to claim a shocking 4-4 draw.
It’s not that this will prevent Germany from qualifying from first place, or at the moment it doesn’t look like it. But it does complicate things, and more than anything, it gives players some sort of morale blow. Luckily, there’s no international match a few days after it.
A perfect first half? Not far from it. Sweden, a very straightforward side, were knocked down for the count 15 minutes into the match, as Miroslav Klose scored twice to finish the game off. After 39 minutes, it was 3-0, and Erik Hamren was simply whispering to himself, hoping that Joachim Low is going to tell his players to take it easy in the second half.
Mesut Ozil made it 4-0 in the 55th minute. No way coming back from this, right? While Zlatan Ibrahimovic scoring a goal to put Sweden on the scoreboard made some sense, the goal that came two minutes later didn’t. Sloppy defending from Badstuber allowed Mikael Lustig into the box, but his shot from a tight angle should never have gotten past Manuel Neuer.
One of Germany’s problems is that it seems to be a one-plan team. Keep pushing forward, no matter what. Not having a more defensive-oriented player in his midfield this time, as Bastian Schweinsteiger and Toni Kroos kept pushing forward, kept the pace of the match high and Germany exposed to counter attacks, while Sweden seized the opportunity, realizing they have a chance.
Playing Marco Reus and Mario Gotze together is usually meant to make great things happen, but it doesn’t bolster any kind of defensive confidence or slow down the match. Germany conceded again from Johan Elmander in the 76th minute. The floodgates were crashing, and Germany’s players had no idea what to do but keep pushing forward. Sometimes, playing to keep the score as it is isn’t so bad. But Low’s late substitution, putting in Lukas Podolski for Marco Reus, didn’t change the mentality. A team like Germany, the modern version of it, doesn’t put in a defensive player for an attacking one.
And then came Rasmus Elm, and it was over. Sweden came back from 0-4 down to make it 4-4. Unfathomable? It just happened in front of 80,000 people. The only ones who truly still don’t understand what happened are the Germany players. It’s fantastic and romantic to be in attack mode all the time, but sometimes, just sometimes, a bit of pragmatism helps.