One aspect of football is to look at what home work and tactical preparations the teams have done to target or reveal their opponents problem areas. And in this particular case there is a lot of room to maneuver for both sides because both have shown enough areas to be targeted by their opponents. Lots of things to work with. And even more to cancel out the own weaknesses.
Who has got the majority of this right?
There are not many matches where this might be more important than here.
expected formation: Maier – Krahn – Bartusiak – Kemme
A basic problem: Germany have had only a few days preparation time after the end of the season with very exhausted players who were in need of regeneration rather than asking them for taking on new tasks. These 4 are playing in 4 different teams in 4 different set ups. Bartusiak only 3-4 games in the whole last year because of injury. Krahn is used to be center back in a chain of 4. Maier is used to be defensive wing midfielder slightly up the field in front of a chain of 3. Kemme is mixing her roles sometimes more (wo)man oriented defender or lately more midfielder.
Surely some weaknesses in the German defense have been made so evident by France that the German side probably will target them and change. However some things are difficult to change thoroughly enough. Because some things are simply the players basic patterns of play.
1. Move them vertically. They have had very individual (and different) interpretations in case a forward eg leaves the wing position for the center or vice versa when the wing back leaves the attention to the center back or vice versa. These handovers always causes them lots of problems. That was not only at display when Jakobsson had a chance to bring Sweden back in the game where no central defender was at hand directly in the middle of the field. It was as well interesting to see no center back at all protecting the goal after France should have scored against them in the first minute where Necib was left totally alone.
2. Urge them to stay deep. None of them is fast. So they tend to stay extremely deep to avoid overrunning. That takes a lot of running for the holding midfielders in defense and thus prevents the two from going forward when in possession. Additionally it opens spaces in front of the back line to give you room to play with.
3. Prevent Maier from opening the game from the back. She is very good at it. Able to go for herself, play longline, turn into the middle and on her left foot, play a short pass for a one-two. All other 3 are very weak. They will give you lots of inaccurate long balls if put only under a little pressure, especially Krahn and Bartusiak.
4. If the holding midfielders go deep to open the game prevent them too as far as possible. Focus on attacking Goessling especially. She is expecting the ball in a deep midfield position and hardly going forward from there without having the ball. So she is not difficult to pick up and prevent from getting the ball. Maybe even a forward can be used to have an eye on her when Germany builds up from the center back..
5. Always open your right side to force Germany on their left wing. (When Kemme-Popp are playing there) Attacks from the left wing are usually much less dangerous – but be aware of Kemmes long range shots.
6. A main strength of the German full backs is defending dribbling players. They dont like speedy players how are using their speed to pass them with mainly their speed advantage.
Midfield (expected formation: Goessling, Leupolz)
which is difficult to determine in the German team. From paper you would say Popp – Mittag – Laudehr are also midfield players but they are either playing far up front when the opponent allows them to do so or they are pushed back and then taking some very different but indifferent fantasy positions. Mittag is not used to work defensively at all. Laudehr will go deep back but stay very much at the sideline only. Popp is the only to really do midfield play but also seeks to stay up front as far as possible. On the other hand Kemme and Maier used to be very far up front acting like midfielders also most of the time.
This leaves their only two real midfield players to do lots and lots of running in between a very unorthodox organisation around them. Unfortunately for their opponents these two still show hardly any sign of fatigue and have been able to hold everything together by their immense working rate.
For that reason it would be advisable to stretch the game horizontally and vertically urging Leupolz and Goessling to cover yet more ground and thus exploiting more gaps in their midfield areas.
Offense (expected formation: Popp – Mittag – Laudehr — Sasic)
1. Be aware of Mittag. She seems to be the biggest threat at the moment. She plays the tournament of her life because she is on a self confidence high and a very sensitive player who needs that massively as her whole career tells. She took difficult shots and executed them well as you have never seen her before. Be happy when she is subbed out. Maybe that substitution against France has got to her already.
2. Be aware of Maroszan. You know that already from the last friendlies. Especially her long range shots. Germany is also more dangerous individually than by team play. And Maroszan is their most skillful in regards to producing something or scoring on her own not only on shots. Dont be fooled by the fact that she might be quite ineffective for most of the time however because she seems rarely to be positioned at the right place which they are still seeking and have not yet found in the “Mannschaft”. Not only for this reason it would have been nice to have used a warm up game to check a better protection for your center backs by a holding midfielder like Johnston (using an alternative center back) or Brian.
3. Be aware of Germanys right side. Have a midfielder to protect Klingenberg who is taking her defensive duties very seriously. If Klingenberg can not match the speed of Laudehr – who is not extraordinary quick – think about some kind of change. Laudehr is all but a winger. She has only a few minor dummies at her disposal to get by you in a 1on1 situation. But she will punish you if you are slower than her by simply running past you. And she can run without a break. If you can contain Germanys right side your chances are rising significantly.
4. Corner kicks and set pieces. Put the most attention on Popp. But be also aware of Krahn, Leupolz, Laudehr, Sasic who are all good.
The second before Necib netted for the lead against Germany. Again a huge gap between center backs and holding midfielder. This isnt the worst example though. And a poor header from Peter to add to the misery. So it got the most costly one.