Germany’s defence felt a shock after their surprise defeat to Mexico in Moscow on Sunday in their first match in the World Cup 2018.
Joachim Low’s team came into the tournament with a poor and whimpery form as they had won only one of their six friendlies since the qualifiers for Russia 2018 where they won all their matches. Those recent struggles were evident as they failed to perform against a rather enthusiastic and vibrant Mexico, who defended their more experienced opponents from a chance to score in their opening match. Their approach was rather positive and they were rewarded with the one winning goal at the 35th minute of the game when Hirving Lozano finished his counter-attack with a crisp drive. Joshua Kimmich and Timo Werner both came close to score in the second half, but Mexico was able to hold them back from their victory.
Low has to quickly lift his team for their next match against Sweden on Saturday, while Mexico has to win against South Korea on the same day giving them a wonderful chance of qualifying for the round of 16.
Manuel Neuer was handed his first start that would matter since September and would surely have been called into action inside the first minute itself had Jerome Boateng not superbly blocked Lozano’s close-range shot. Werner then fired a great shot across the face of Guillermo Ochoa’s goal during the opening minutes.
Any thoughts that Mexico would be overpowered by Germany’s group of superstars continued to be a wrong statement during the entire course of their match. Germany looked shell-shocked by Mexico’s vigor and passion to defend, eventually falling behind them 10 minutes before the break when the Mexicans scored.
Javier Hernandez’s superb one-two-one with Andres Guardado allowed him to take the ball away from Mats Hummels from inside Germany’s half that fed Lozano down the left. The PSV forward Lozano then cut inside the weak defence offered by Mesut Ozil to score a goal inside Neuer’s right post. That deserved lead was nearly leveled back just two minutes later but Toni Kroos’ free-kick diverted towards the top corner. Ochoa did a wonderful job to deny the midfielder from getting even the slightest of touch to push the ball inside the goal post.
The thoughts of the German fans that Low’s star-studded squad would perform well in the second half failed to be the truth. Mexico was able to keep their defence tight and hold them at the bay until Kimmich’s ambitious kick and Werner’s efforts both narrowly pass away from the goal post.
Hirving Lozano’s goal causing an earthquake in Mexico City
As viewed, wild celebrations were sparked inside the stadium among the Mexican fans but they were nothing compared to those fans back home. The Mexico City native sparked jubilant scenes in the place of his birth after the goal, with authorities reporting seismic activity as supporters cheered for their national hero.
A statement released by SIMMSA, a monitoring and analytic network, read: “The earthquake detected in Mexico City originated artificially. Possibly by massive jumping during the national team’s goal at the World Cup. At least two sensors inside the City detected it at 11:32.”
Mexico looks more fired up than ever
Mexico has only won one of their last 11 matches with Germany and their most recent match ended in a 4-1 defeat by Low’s B team at last year’s Confederations Cup.
But they fully deserved this victory, which brought huge celebrations from their thousands of fans who had traveled to Moscow, just to watch them play. The intensity of Mexico’s play was matched by the support they gained. They not only out-numbered their Germany counterparts but also outmatched them in quality of gameplay.
Lozano’s pace and willing to drive towards Germany’s defence was the main point of the first half. The second half was more of a display of Mexico’s defensive capabilities, especially near the end but they survived to win against the current holders of the World Cup.
Juan Carlos Osorio’s team has a lot more work to do before they achieve that aim, but his attention to detail paid off in this match as they appeared strong both technically and tactically.
Germany doesn’t look like Champions
Low’s side had come into the tournament with a lot of backdrops like displays and results in their recent friendlies, but there had been no visible sign of panic in their squad.
Things were very different at a noisy Luzhniki Stadium, with Germany showing very little of the composure and class as we expected them to have. Even before they went to defence, they were often over-run in midfield, with Kroos and Sami Khedira unable to display any protection from Mexico’s constant counter-attacks.
Germany’s right flank seemed vulnerable, with Joshua Kimmich’s forward leaving a lot of space for Lozano and Hernandez to charge forward. If ‘El Tri’ had made more of their chances, or found a better way to score in the game, then they could have been two or three goals ahead of Mexico only by the half-time.
Germany’s sheer desperation to score at least one goal to draw the match was evident by the number of men they threw forward in the end that included their goalkeeper Manuel Neuer. It left them with the even more exposed midfield and at the back in the final stages, and Mexico had the opportunity to punish them further. In the end, though, one goal was enough to break the champions of 2014 world cup into pieces.