Germany Suffered Until the End to Tie and Close as Leader of Its Group in Euro 2024

Germany vs Switzerland in Euro 2024
Germany vs Switzerland in Euro 2024 (Credit: Getty Images)

Niclas Fullkrug, the quintessential area tank, came off the bench and secured Germany’s lead in Group A of the Euro Cup with a header in stoppage time. The 1-1 score prevented the organizers from defeating Switzerland. Led by the most strategic version of the once impulsive Xhaka, the Swiss played an intelligent match against an opponent who played with leaden feet and a clouded mind, without tension, without ideas, excessively dependent on Gundogan to sublimate the attacks.

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Julian Nagelsmann sent a message of confidence to his players. He lined up the starting team. Despite being arithmetically classified for the round of 16, he refused to speculate in search of a comfortable crossing to the quarterfinals. All German fans know that the first in Group A would meet the first in Group B in the quarterfinals, that is, with Spain. The German coach didn’t care. He ordered his players to step on the accelerator and, in the process, conveyed to them that he trusted in their ability to even face Rodri’s team, the most intimidating in the tournament.

Gundogan plays an essential role in this selection. His status as captain is just a reflection of his exemplary character and his tactical genius. No one, not even Musiala, much less Wirtz, is able to do what he does for his team. His position is deliberately multiple. Against Switzerland, he occupied the entire center lane. He moved at his discretion from his center-back line to Sommer’s goal line, to fix the Swiss center-backs, to unmark himself in space, to receive and turn towards the goal, or to go down to leave the ball facing in lightning supports and give continuity to the maneuvers that Kroos started from the base camp. Gundogan’s field of action was the most difficult because he traveled through the area most populated by his opponents. While he was active, Germany found a way. When his appearance decreased, no one took over from him. Without Gundogan at the heart of the plays, Xhaka and Akanji reinforced their fortress.

Xhaka, Freuler, and Akanji were very skilled at stretching and tightening their lines like an accordion. They read their rivals’ game perfectly and absorbed it in a big bag. They began by letting Kroos move the ball when he did so from far back, and they reduced spaces to cut off the passing lanes toward the playmakers. When Gundogan did not offer, Musiala and Wirtz did not move regularly to get out of the harassment and the play was naturally channeled towards Kimmich and Mittelstädt, the full-backs. The German raids inexorably ended in centers. There Akanji, Schar, and Rodríguez won against a sleepy Havertz. Only Andrich, with a shot from 25 meters, managed to beat Sommer. But the VAR annulled it due to a lack of Musiala.

Germany lost control of the match little by little perhaps because he did not press with due rigor and aggressiveness. Maybe because his circulation was poor, or innocuous, and he ended up missing too many passes against an opponent who knew how to press at the right moments. The vicious circle took its toll. The Germans were troubled when Rieder pressured Musiala, stole the ball from him, and launched a counterattack that Freuler finished with a pass to the near post and Ndoye finished off due to the dullness of Tah.

The local public was speechless. Nagelsmann rushed into the locker room when the referee signaled half-time. But the 1-0, far from stimulating his men, inflamed the opponents. Xhaka and his companions returned grown from the interval. They harassed with more determination and the circulation that Kroos sought broke down. At times, those who moved the ball without complexes were the Swiss. Nagelsmann’s changes did not remedy things. On the contrary, without Musiala and Wirtz, the attack did not evolve. With Sane, Fullkrug, and Havertz the advances became blind. Running more, crashing more, and seeking balls into the pot only resulted in Swiss reaffirmation. One goal kick was enough for the Helvetians for Vargas to end up scoring 2-0, canceled due to offside by chance. Then Xhaka forced Neuer to take a bomb. The expeditionary fans roared. Kimmich scored crosses, and Raum scored crosses. The light was going out for the host team when Fullkrug, the providential tank, headed a lob and adjusted it to the squad.

With no game left, Germany prevailed. With the character of revolt. The old way. Nagelsmann gave them his confidence and his players endorsed it.

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