After this weekend, Germany have proved themselves to be one of the best footballing nations in the world. Only two days after their under 21 team won the European Championship, an exhausted squad (where eight of them are eligible for the youth side) beat Chile in an exciting and gripping match to lift the Confederations Cup.
Joachim Löw, who was under intense scrutiny when the Confederation Cup kicked off, has every right to be oozing confidence and celebrating. After travelling to Russia without Jérôme Boateng, Mats Hummels, Marco Reus, Thomas Müller, Sami Khedira and Mesut Özil, the German manager was criticised for bringing a squad that is young and relatively inexperienced to win the Cup.
He undoubtedly silenced the critics, and being only 12 months out from the 2018 World Cup, the reigning champions are strong favourites to become only the third side in history to defend their title successfully.
The final began with a closing ceremony which paid tribute and showed admiration to previous Confederation Cup winners, the 6,000 tournament volunteers and the host nation’s history. Former Brazil striker Ronaldo and Russian pop stars came on to the field as fans filled Saint Petersburg Stadium.
Even though the two nation teams playing five games in 14 days, neither manager showed any signs of their team’s tiredness, with Germany replacing only one defender and Chile’s line-up remaining unchanged.
As far as opening encounters go, Chile played the better hand as Alexis Sánchez floated between the three-man German defence. Although the Arsenal striker has been relatively quiet in Russia as rumours of a potential transfer to Manchester City heat up, Sánchez is not quiet on the pitch. He showed both a creative link-up with Arturo Vidal and had a threatening presence.
In the first half of the game Chile looked the better team, however they were unable to take advantage of chances whilst Germany created danger with their forward attacks. An unfortunate mistake by Marcelo Díaz meant that Timo Werner was able to get the ball inside the penalty area and pass the ball Lars Stindl, allowing him to score his third goal in four games.
Pressure grew from South America’s champions in the second half, and the German defence was tested as Sánchez continued his inconsistency.
Fifa’s Video Assistant Referee (VAR) technology was also examined after Chile’s Gonzalo Jara remained on the pitch after landing an elbow to Werner’s face in the midst of a second half challenge. The Serbian referee, Milorad Mazic reviewed the footage but only cautioned Jara.
Bayern Munich team-mates Vidal and Joshua Kimmich were also booked after a quarrel whilst the game almost came to violence after Chile players piled on Emre Can in an attempt to retrieve the ball. Claudio Bravo received a yellow card after intervening in the brawl.
However this did not dampen Löw’s mood; the 57-year-old manager (who was drenched in champagne come the end of the match) was full of praise for his younger squad. He said:
“The fact that these young players have won this trophy is a historic achievement. It’s unique in Germany history. It is just outstanding: players with so little international experience, with so few caps in other final matches, have been playing at the top level of quality.”
The future of the Confederations Cup still remains uncertain with heat preventing Qatar from hosting the next event in the summer of 2021. Gianni Infantino, President of Fédération Internationale de Football Association, refused to confirm or deny the Confederations Cup continuing existence, but if Germany’s win over Chile is the last-ever Confederation Cup match, then it could not have ended in a more thrilling and exciting manner.
(Featured Image credit: ESPNFC.co.uk)