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Germany kicked off their 2016 European campaign with a 2-0 razing over Ukraine in the second match of Group C on Sunday night.
Overall the World Champions exhibited a dominant performance over the Eastern Europeans- but that’s not to say their display was the final article. Shades of a work in progress were highly evident, especially with their jittery backline.
The victory sees Germany draw level on three points with Poland, although the Die Mannschaft top the pool by virtue having a superior goal difference.
Here are three key observations from their victory over Ukraine.
Got the job done
It didn’t take long for Joachim Low’s charges to stake their claim through a Shkodran Mustafi’s header in the 19th minute. The Valencia defender got on the finishing end of a free-kick by Toni Kroos to send the leather past Andriy Pyatov with a thunderbolt header from 10 yards.
Kroos was impeccable all match long even by his standards and as such, deservedly won the Man Of The Match award.
Of the opposite number, Yevhen Konoplyanka proved to be the biggest threat and it took several fine sure saves from Manuel Neuer and an off the line clearance by Jerome Boateng to keep the Germans in the driving seat.
With Ukraine having jaded legs towards the tail end of the game, Germany’s resilience paid off as Bastian Schweinsteiger struck a half volley to put the result beyond reach.
Germany may be the reigning champions of world football, but it shouldn’t come off as a surprise why they are not first in the current FIFA rankings. Since winning the World Cup back in the summer of 2014 in Brazil, the Die Mannschaft have suffered seven defeats in 18 games.
Just to know how bad that is, 18 is nearly half the number of games played in one season in the EPL: Losing seven games midway through the season will inevitably knock out a team in the title race even without taking into account the number of draws throughout the same period.
With Philip Lahm retired and Mats Hummels injured, the Germany backline appeared vulnerable for the most part.
It’s only a matter of time before the flood gates open, and when they do, their ability to outscore opponents and the individual brilliance of Neuer will certainly come into question.
Possible European triumph
Of the most accomplished teams in Europe, Germany still remain heavy favorites in the competition following their 2-0 victory. France scored by a similar score-line against Romania, albeit conceding a goal, while England drew 1-1 with Russia.
La Furia Roja registered a victory in typical Spanish tradition by beating Czech Republic by a solitary goal on Monday afternoon.
Being the World Cup champions, Germany have the most to lose and gain by a similar fraction from the European championships.
Failing to win it will see them crumble lower in the standings at someone else’s gain while winning it will see them make history by becoming the third team to hold the World Cup and European Cup at the same time.
Written by Brian Humphrey
Follow Brian on Twitter @brihum
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