I have reviewed all my blogs so far and come to the conclusion that I have only written positive articles. The German mentality is to look for areas of improvement and I have to do right by that. It might sound like nit-picking, but not everything has been perfect in the group stage. So, here goes: where can Germany get better still?
1) Their game is not as beautiful and fluid as it used to be. The football Germany played at the 2010 FIFA World Cup and in qualifying was more daring, more attacking and arguably more fun to watch. However, in South Africa other teams left them a lot of space and they knew how to exploit it. This is clearly not the case here; even when sides go behind against Joachim Löw's charges, they scarcely go all-out attack. Löw, though, is right to choose a more balanced approach.
2) Not every player is fully fit and at his peak performance. We know Per Mertesacker and Miroslav Klose arrived here after lengthy injury absences which have, perhaps, cost them starting berths. It remains to be seen how much of an asset they will be when needed. Bastian Schweinsteiger looks to be slightly short of full fitness, while there is also more to come from Mesut Özil. While it is right that the playmaker has nicely drifted to the wings to create space for others to make the most of, he can do better.
3) In every match Germany could have gone behind and the outcome could have been very different. Pepe hit the German bar in the first game against Portugal, Robin van Persie could have scored twice within the first 11 minutes for the Oranje and, with the score tied at 1-1, Denmark's Jakob Poulsen shaved a post after the restart.
4) Germany, using zonal marking at corners, have at times looked vulnerable. It cost them in the semi-finals of the World Cup when they were not able to deal with Carles Puyol racing into the box, Pepe almost did similarly on matchday one and the Danes undid the German defence with a corner routine designed specifically to exploit this weakness.
5) Many people back home want to see more of André Schürrle, Marco Reus and Mario Götze, with the latter duo not having played a minute yet. The number of talented young players Germany have produced over the last years means the likes of 22-year-old Thomas Müller are threatened by Mario Götze, 20, while 27-year-old Lukas Podolski – seemingly in his prime – has Schürrle breathing down his neck.
All that being said, I remain confident we will clear the Greek hurdle on Friday. However, I am sure Russia thought the same.
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