Manuel Veth –
Germany v Belarus – November, 16 – Borussia-Park, Mönchengladbach, Germany
Germany were dominant in the first half but struggled to break down a well organised Belarus side. Matthias Ginter had the biggest chance in the first interval his shot was deflected by Denis Polyakov, goalkeeper Aleksandr Gutor, however, managed to stop the shot. On the other end, Manuel Neuer had to come up with a big stop to keep out Igor Stasevich in the 40th minute. The goal would have been against the run of play. Germany had 82% possession at one point in the first half but most of the chances came from outside the box until the 42nd minute when Ginter joined a rush to finally beat Gutor with a back-flick.
The fans did not have to wait that long in the second interval. Within three minutes of the restart, Leon Goretzka had doubled the lead with a strike from inside the box. Germany had deciphered Belarus and put a cap on the game when Toni Kroos made it 3-0 with a shot from outside the box in the 55th minute. Then in the 74th minute, Robin Koch conceded an unnecessary penalty but Neuer once again came up big denying Stasevich’s spot-kick. Instead Kroos struck once again scoring a beautiful goal in the 82nd minute that capped off a great Germany performance.
Germany v Belarus – Three Stars
Toni Kroos (Germany)
Toni Kroos had a standout performance. The Real Madrid midfielder completed 120 passes (88.2%) and had 166 touches. More impressive Kroos scored two beautiful goals, his first was a curled effort and his second came after a great first touch inside the box. Always reliable in midfield to keep the pace going the 29-year-old also set up Goretzka’s goal that made it 2-0.
Manuel Neuer (Germany)
Manuel Neuer’s beautiful diving save in the 40th minute to deny Stasevich was key for Germany. At that stage, it was still 0-0 and Germany struggled to decipher Belarus’ defence. Having to come from behind to win the game would have been difficult for Die Nationalmannschaft. But Neuer was not just on top of his game at this stage, the 33-year-old played a perfect game and even got involved far out of his goal at one stage. Then in the second half, he stopped a penalty. A strong showing that once again underlines that he is still the best keeper with a German passport.
Matthias Ginter (Germany)
Matthias Ginter was excellent throughout the game. Often allowed to roam forward the defender scored the first goal of the night. The Borussia Mönchengladbach centre-back also set up Goretzka’s goal, had 106 touches and completed 85.1% of his 80 passes.
GOALS: 1-0 (Ginter, 42′), 2-0 (Goretzka, 48′), 3-0 (Kroos, 55′), 4-0 (Kroos, 82′)
Germany have qualified for the 2020 European Championships with one game to spare. Overall, it was an odd campaign that was mostly about rebuilding the side after a disastrous 2018 FIFA World Cup and relegation from the UEFA Nations League.
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On Tuesday Germany will face Northern Ireland in their final game of the qualification cycle. A win in Frankfurt would mean that Germany would win Group C ahead of the Netherlands.
Germany v Belarus – Line-ups
Neuer – Schulz, Koch, Ginter, Klostermann – Kroos, Gündogan, Kimmich – Werner (Brandt, 68′), Gnabry (Waldschmidt, 84′, Rudy, 90′), Goretzka
Gutor – Polyakov, Naumov, Martynovich, Matveichik – Nekhaychik (Bessmertny, 84′), Dragun, Maevski, Kovalev (Skavysh, 78′) – Laptev (Lisakovich, 68′), Stasevich
Manuel Veth is the owner and Editor in Chief of the Futbolgrad Network. He also works as a freelance journalist and among others, contributes to Forbes.com and Pro Soccer USA. He holds a Doctorate of Philosophy in History from King’s College London, and his thesis is titled: “Selling the People’s Game: Football’s transition from Communism to Capitalism in the Soviet Union and its Successor States,” which is available HERE. Manuel has lived in Amsterdam, Kyiv, Moscow, Tbilisi, London, and currently splits his time between Victoria, BC, and Munich, Germany. Follow Manuel on Twitter @ManuelVeth.