Germany never had upset on the mind when entering Monday’s Round of 16 match of the FIFA World Cup against Algeria fully expecting to dominate, living up to the Die Mannschaft name. Algeria came into the knockout stage as the Group H runner-up to face a German machine that is the highest ranked team left in the tournament. And Algeria came to play and almost found a way to get by the European powerhouse into the next round.
The teams were met with a cloudy, humid day with temperatures more like a typical European day when they took the pitch at Estadio Beira-Rio in Porto Alegre. Germany looked to have the advantage early on, however the Algerian team came back with a few decent early attacks. A 17th minute diving header from Islam Slimani looked to give Algeria an early, surprising lead over the German machine until the flag from the linesman went into the air to single that the forward was offside and nullified the spectacular shot. As much as it looked like the momentum was shifting away from Germany,
Near the end of the first half Germany started to turn up the offense only to have Algeria respond with impressive counter attacks. In the last 15 minutes of the first half, Germany started to regain some momentum, but was not the half that Die Mannschaft wanted. As the teams headed into halftime, neither had gained an advantage.
The lack of a dominating performance by Die Mannschaft in the first half of the Round of 16 match did nothing to calm the fears of German fans worried that there was no way to get by Algeria into the next round of the FIFA World Cup. Instead, Algeria took the attack and counter attacks right at the German defense. To add to the worry of the German fans, goalkeeper Manuel Neuer decided it was a bright idea to leave the box quite a few times, leaving the goal wide open. This made all the hearts of German fans skip a beat more than once during the first half.
When the second half began, both teams went back and forth, attacking and counter attacking, but neither team could gain a clear advantage and after 45 minutes of play. Near the end of the game, what appeared comical was troubling to German fans. Germany earned a free kick in the 89th minute and during a moment of Die Mannschaft miss direction it fell apart. A number of players faked the kick and when forward Thomas Müller went for his fake, the German scoring sensation slipped and fell down. When regulation ended, the teams were still locked at nil-nil and the game headed into extra time.
In the 92nd minute, Germany finally struck. Inside the box, German forward André Schürrle flicked a left footed shot behind him into the goal to give Die Mannschaft a 1-0 lead. With no golden goal, there was still 28 minutes before the German fans can celebrate. The score remained the same the rest of the first extra session and through the second session until the 119th minute of play when Mesut Özil gave Germany a 2-0 lead over Algeria. Özil was able to send a left footed shot to the top middle section of the net for the score. Algeria was finally able to answer with a strike in the next minute from Abdelmoumene Djabou. Off a crossing pass from Sofiane Feghouli, Djabou crossed the ball from the left side of the six-yard box into the lower right corner of the goal. It was too late for Algeria though, as the whistle came from the official to signal the end of the game.
While it was not the dominating game Die Mannschaft was expected to give, a 2-1 score moves the Germans past Algeria and through the Round of 16 in the FIFA World Cup. Algeria was tough, fighting to the end. However, the team could not find a way past the German machine that woke up in extra time. It is apparent that there may be a division of players in the German camp. Communication and looks from the players towards each other on the field was floundering during the game. If Germany wants that fourth star on their jersey, they need to come together as a team and play flawless games from here on out to raise the championship trophy. Another performance like today could cost Germany their first World Cup in 24-years.
Commentary by Carl Auer
Read more Guardian Liberty Voice Coverage on the FIFA World Cup Round of 16
Game Observation by Carl Auer
Discussion with Robert Pannier, Guardian Liberty Voice Writer Covering Group H
Guardian Liberty Voice
Guardian Liberty Voice