Germany played Mexico in the second semifinal of this year’s FIFA Confederations Cup on Thursday.
Chile had defeated Portugal on penalties the night before. Thus, the South American champions became the first finalist and await the winner of this game in Sunday’s title match.
Plenty had been made of the vast gap in terms of international experience that favored Mexico against their opponents, the German “B-squad” ahead of kickoff on Thursday.
It was not so much that these analysts (mostly from North and Latin America) underestimated the young players representing the nation of the current world champions, as it was an overrating of the Mexican side, that made them give the latter team the advantage.
Whatever the case may be, these people and the Mexican team for that matter, were in for a rude awakening, as the Schalke 04 midfielder Leon Goretzka scored twice in quick succession to give Germany a 2-0 lead, before even ten minutes had been on the clock.
To their credit, “El Tri” recovered well from that shock and went forward themselves for much of the rest of the first half.
Yet, they were unable to beat goalkeeper Marc-André ter Stegen at the time, so that the teams went into the locker room with the 2-0 score still intact.
The world champions began the second half significantly more actively than they had ended the first and they rewarded themselves with another goal, as Timo Werner made it 3-0 before the hour-mark.
With the game practically having been won, Germany allowed their opponents to dominate much of the remainder of it.
As soccer often goes, it had to be a German-based player, (Eintracht Frankfurt’s Marco Fabian) who scored Mexico’s only goal of the encounter. That hammer from distance was by far the most beautiful strike of the match, but it would not be its last.
Germany’s Amin Younes would have that honor, making 4-1 for his team the full-time score.
The result proved that coolness in front of goal is much more important than international experience, ball possession, or other arbitrary statistics, which favored Mexico.
Then again, “El Tri” cannot be cool under pressure, as long as the expectations by the Mexican public and by “experts” from in and around the country are so unreasonably high.
As for the Germans, few expected this young team to win the tournament which will not change for the final against Chile, but the role of the underdog seems to suit “die Mannschaft”.