Three at the Back
Euro 2016 — The last 16.
Germany v Slovakia.
Germany topped their group but looked a diluted version of the team that lifted the World Cup in Brazil two years ago. Despite the 2–0 score line against the Ukraine, Joachim’s Low’s side struggled. Mario Gotze in the False 9 role looked like a player who has spent most of the season on the bench at Bayern Munich. At the back Shkodran Mustafi filled in for Mats Hummels and popped up with a header inside 20mins from a delicious Toni Kroos cross. Mustafi’s centre back parther Jerome Boateng had work to do at the other end of the pitch, acrobatically clearing off the line. Fan favourite Bastian Schweinsteiger, who hadn’t played since March, struck a half volley late on to seal it. A 0–0 with rivals Poland helped both team move forward in the group but again the Germans didn’t set the world alight. Northern Ireland proved a tough nut to crack with goalkeeper Michael McGovern putting in a fantastic performance. Mario Gomez came in for Gotze and proved to be the difference. On loan at Besiktas from Fiorentina, Gomez scored 26 goals for the Turkish side and will surly have to start up front for the next game.
Slovakia finished third in Group B with 4 points. A 2–1 loss to a Gareth Bale inspired Wales team started their campaign but Slovakia had their chances. Star man Marek Hamsik was denied by a brilliant sliding goal line clearance from Ben Davies. They drew level when our One to Watch Ondrej Duda scored less than a minute after coming on. The Slovaks showed their class in their second game against Russia, with Vladimir Weiss and Man of the Match Hamsik delivering two classy finishes in a 2–1 win. A 0–0 with England was enough to see them through to the next round, Jan Kozak’s men keeping a clean sheet despite a huge number of England shots.
The Germans will have to step up their performance’s to beat this tough Slovakia outfit and to be considered genuine contenders for Euro 2016. They will need Kroos to continue to run the show from midfield and will look to Mesut Ozil and Thomas Muller to create and finish chances in the final third. Slovakia have the chance to cause an upset, but will properly come up short on this occasion.
Germany 2–0 Slovakia.