Germany 2-2 Argentina: Kai Havertz scores his first international goal as Serge Gnabry continues run of form before Joachim Low’s side fall apart
- Serge Gnabry opened the scoring with his 10th goal in 11 games for Germany
- Kai Havertz scored his first goal for Germany to put them 2-0 up shortly after
- Lucas Alario got Argentina back into the game with a fine, glancing header
- Lucas Ocampos got Argentina back on level terms with five minutes left
If you were looking for a bit more proof as to how prepared Joachim Low is in ripping up old blueprints and working towards a different plan then this performance provided it even if it requires more fine tuning.
In Serge Gnabry and Kai Havertz, Low has two players who are both effective at what they do and provide the excitement that has so often been lacking in recent times.
And while this wasn’t as polished a display as it could have been, with Germany carelessly giving up a two-goal lead, it was evidence of a side that has found a new identity.
Serge Gnabry celebrates scoring Germany’s first goal of the night against Argentina
Kai Havertz doubled Germany’s lead six minutes later for his first senior international goal
Havertz and Gnabry celebrate together following Germany’s second goal of the evening
Germany boss Joachim Low applauds his players after a dominant first half performance
Gnabry and Havertz gave Germany a commanding first-half lead and it could have been worse for Argentina had the hosts possessed more of a killer edge.
Of two countries seeking so hard for new found glory, it was Germany who looked more complete in Dortmund.
It is perhaps quite refreshing to look at both teamsheets and not know everything there is know about every individual player. It is a sign of where Germany and Argentina are. Both sides are reinventing themselves in one way or another. For Germany, with Joachim Low having been at the helm for 13 years, this is a period of uncertainty. Former key players in Jerome Boateng, Mats Hummels and Thomas Muller have all been cast aside for younger, fresher players to emerge and adapt to Low’s new plans.
Argentina, in many ways, are a little more difficult to work out. For a long time there hasn’t been a long-term strategy. An over-reliance on Lionel Messi has often hindered rather than helped. Messi, of course, wasn’t in the team for this meeting in Dortmund – the Barcelona player still serving a three-match ban for criticising officials after he was sent off in the third-place play-off at the Copa America in the summer.
Gnabry was the first to Joshua Kimmich’s cross and managed to finish tightly into the corner
Rodrigo De Paul gave chase but could only watch as Gnabry’s effort bounced over the line
The goal gave Argentina head coach Lionel Scaloni cause for concern early in the first half
Germany: (3-4-2-1): Ter Stegen; Can, Koch, Sule; Klostermann, Havertz (Rudy 83), Kimmich, Halstenberg; Brandt (Amiri 66), Waldschmidt; Gnabry (Serdar 71)
Scorers: Gnabry 16, Havertz 22
Argentina: (4-3-3): Marchesin; Foyth, Otamendi, Rojo (Acuna 46), Tagliafico; Paredes, De Paul (Rodriguez 90+2); Pereyra (Saravia 76), Dybala (Alario 62), Correa (Ocampos 46); Martinez
Booked: Otamendi, De Paul, Ocampos
Scorers: Alario 66, Ocampos 85
Referee: Clement Turpin (France)
So, this was a chance for both sides to show their workings and give us a better idea of where they want to go. As opening stages to a game go, this was fairly mediocre with Germany and Argentina choosing to retain possession rather take any risks.
It lacked bite until Joshua Kimmich, the Bayern Munich defender, conceded a foul when he snapped at the heels of Leandro Paredes. It was a tasty challenge and an attempt by Kimmich to set the tone.
Set the tone it might have done but Argentina were starting to move the ball with pace as they tried to beat their opponents down the flanks. Marcos Rojo may not be the most likely to try a bursting run up the pitch but that’s what he did before eventually coming to a halt. A man in the wrong position at the wrong time.
The same couldn’t be said of Gnabry a minute later. The former Arsenal player has been in supreme form of late. And in a game that had a rather frenzied beginning, he was able to remain calm to score his 10th goal in 11 appearances for Germany.
Lukas Klostermann’s low cross into the centre may have been hopeful but Gnabry reacted quickly to get ahead of Angel Correa and nudge the ball past Agustin Marchesin.
Havertz was the next to profit six minutes later when he converted Gnabry’s ball into the box
Havertz’s delight was clear to see and he was joined in celebration by his team-mates
Lautaro Martinez, Argentina’s lone striker, reacts after watching his side go 2-0 down
Germany had found a weakness in Argentina’s left side of defence. With Gnabry and Julian Brandt overloading on Nicolas Tagliafico it also brought Rojo out of position.
And the next time Low’s side chose that method of attack they profited. This time it was Gnabry who would provide the assist for Havertz. A delicate pass from the centre of the Argentina penalty area and Havertz struck past Marchesin with composure for his first senior goal for his country.
Rodrigo De Paul, certainly not a household name, was quite bizarrely occupying a central midfield spot despite playing at left wing for Udinese.
Even so, he did provide thrust to central midfield. He also had one of Argentina’s best chances of the first half when his shot from outside the area cannoned off the right post of Marc-Andre ter Stegen. The Barcelona goalkeeper was beaten unlike a short while later when De Paul attempted an effort from similar distance and scuffed his shot.
Marc-Andre ter Stegen was beaten by De Paul’s shot but his right post came to his rescue
It brought applause from around Signal Iduna Park. Much like Germany’s next attack, which didn’t come to anything, but gave supporters yet another glimpse of what Low is working towards. Ter Stegen quickly dispatched the ball to Emre Can, Can passed out to Havertz and then he moved it to Klostermann at right wing back and they were off.
A counter-attacking style that garners such a response from the stands is one certainly worth persevering with.
A key part of that was the relentless work of Germany’s central defensive three. Can’s confidence grew throughout the game as he played incisive pass after incisive pass.
Lucas Alario directs a glancing header beyond Germany’s Marc-Andre ter Stegen
Alario celebrates after finding a way back into the contest for his Argentina team-mates
The best Argentina could hope for was staying deep and catching Germany unaware with passes in behind. But it wasn’t fooling Germany.
Not even Paulo Dybala, the one who was carrying the burden of expectation in the absence of Argentina’s bigger stars, could make a difference and was hooked with half an hour to play.
It was the player who replaced Dybala, Lucas Alario, who would provide a route back into the contest. Marcos Acuna supplied the cross from the left and Alario met the ball in the air and directed into the far corner. It was a fine goal and gave Argentina a much needed spark.
It was sign that there is still work to do for the hosts. Indeed, Low’s changes late in the game unsettled Germany with Argentina taking advantage of careless and poorly directed passes out of defence.
It would ultimately cost them with Lucas Ocampos, on for Correa, scoring five minutes before the end.
Low admitted his side’s shortcomings, adding: ‘Basically you’re always annoyed when you’re leading 2-0 and then draw 2-2.
‘They brought in some quality from their substitutions. In the second half we lost the ball a few times. We weren’t so courageous and got into difficulties.’
So, a reasonably productive performance but one that showed Low, as he now knows, has more work to do before presenting his finished product at the European Championships next summer.