Germany draw with Spain with Fullkrug goal
AL KHOR, Qatar — Niclas Fullkrug breathed life into Germany’s World Cup hopes with a late equalizer against Spain to save the 2014 world champions from a second straight defeat at Qatar 2022.
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While a defeat wouldn’t have ended Germany’s qualifying prospects due to other results in Group E, Fullkrug’s strike, which canceled out Alvaro Morata’s opener, means a win against Costa Rica will certainly be enough to get Hansi Flick’s side through.
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1. Neither Muller nor Fullkrug are key for Germany
Thomas Muller earned his place in Germany’s Hall of Fame with 44 goals in 120 appearances and a World Cup winner’s medal in 2014, but time caught up with the 33-year-old. And Germany’s problems are personified by the Bayern Munich striker, with the lack of a credible alternative forcing coach Hansi Flick to persist with a player who retired from international football after Euro 2020.
Timo Werner’s absence through injury at the World Cup has not helped Germany’s prospects, but the RB Leipzig player’s lack of impact in the Premier League with Chelsea has shown he is. was never the answer to the problems of the Germans. So Flick continues to go with Muller, although the player has scored just once in his last seven international appearances before the clash with Spain.
Muller struggled to trouble the Spanish defense at Al Bayt Stadium before being substituted in the second half, but his replacement Niclas Fullkrug then netted the equalizer Germany’s qualifier hopes alive.
But Fullkrug, at 29, is not the solution for Germany either. The Werder Bremen striker was only on his third international appearance against Spain and he now has two goals, but he is not in Germany’s former striker class. But his goal means Germany can qualify with a win over Costa Rica later this week and Flick can now choose to kick it past Muller.
2. Criticized Morata delivers again for Spain
Alvaro Morata has always shared opinions. The Spanish striker carved out a career in some of Europe’s top teams – Real Madrid, Juventus and Chelsea – but never quite commanded the respect of the Spanish greats who came before him, such as Fernando Torres and David Villa.
Morata’s goal in the 7-0 win over Costa Rica earlier this week propelled him past Fernando Morientes in Spain’s all-time goalscoring charts and his strike against Germany took him to 29 goals, putting him level with Fernando Hierro in fifth place. Only Torres, Villa, Raul and David Silva are ahead of Morata in the Spanish charts, so the Atletico Madrid striker is in good company.
Morata’s run of 29 goals in 59 games is impressive, but even coach Luis Enrique opted to start him on the bench, despite his team lacking a classic centre-forward. Morata doesn’t quite fit that mould, but he’s as close as Spain is to a player who can lead the line, tie play and do the most important thing of all: scoring goals.
And his goal against the Germans was excellent, with a textbook straight from Torres and Villa, Morata clinically beating Manuel Neuer at the near post with a right-footed shot from Jordi Alba’s cross. Yes, Morata can be frustrating and he misses more than he scores, but his record speaks for itself and Spain’s World Cup hopes are healthier when he’s in the squad.
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3. Simon consolidates his case as Spain’s number 1
Unai Simon is now Spain’s undisputed number 1 and the Athletic Club goalkeeper showed why Luis Enrique trusts him so much with an impressive performance against Germany.
Simon is backed by Brighton’s Robert Sanchez and Brentford’s David Raya in Qatar, with neither Manchester United’s David de Gea nor Chelsea’s Kepa Arrizabalaga being selected by Enrique. But despite De Gea and Kepa’s great reputations, their spotty form at club level has opened the door for Simon to be a worthy successor in the place that has been held for so long by Iker Casillas.
Against Germany, Simon made crucial saves, collected crosses into crowded penalty areas and was quick and decisive with his distribution. With his four main rivals playing in the Premier League, don’t be surprised if Simon finds himself there soon too.
Spain: Simon 7; Carvajal 6, Rodri 6, Laporte 6, Jordi Alba 7; Busquets 6; Pedri 7, Gavi 6; Olmo 8, Asensio 6, Torres 6.
submarines: Morata 7, Koke 6, Williams 6, Balde 6.
Germany: Neuer 7; Kehrer 6, Sule 6, Rudiger 7, Raum 6; Kimmich 6, Goretzka 7; Musiala 6, Gundogan 6, Gnabry 5; Muller 5.
Subtitles: Fullkrug 7, Kostermn 6, Sane 6, Hofman, Schlotterbeck 6.
Best and Worst Performers
BEST: Dani Olmo, Spain.
The RB Leipzig striker was Spain’s creative force and he was behind the move that led to Jordi Alba’s cross from which Morata scored. Olmo’s vision and clever ball movement was a joy to watch.
WORST: Serge Gnabry, Germany.
A close call between him and Muller and it didn’t go unnoticed as Germany grew more threatening after the two Bayern strikers were replaced.
Highlights and Moments
After replacing Muller in the second half, Fullkrug’s 83rd-minute goal put Germany back in the game and, more importantly, revived their hopes of advancing in Qatar.
TIE GAME 🇩🇪
Germany find the equalizer in the 83rd minute 💪 pic.twitter.com/8CFN6DcYUJ
— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) November 27, 2022
The Werder Bremen man has a knack for late-game drama. He scored five goals after the 80th minute, leading all players in Europe’s top five leagues this season.
After the game: What players and managers said
German midfielder Ilkay Gundogan, to BBC One: “I was on the bench talking to Thomas Muller and we felt there was a goal for us. Niclas’ finishing was amazing, a typical striker finish and he got up when we we really needed it.”
Spanish striker Alvaro Morata, to the BBC: “Two teams that could be in the semi-finals or the final of the World Cup. The most important thing is to win, but they scored an incredible goal and we were unlucky.”
Key stats (provided by ESPN Stats & Information)
– Germany went winless in their first two FIFA World Cup matches since 1938. Fullkrug’s late equalizer ensured Germany never lost their first two World Cup matches.
– Alvaro Morata, with his second goal of the tournament, becomes the 19th different Spanish player with goals in several World Cups.
Spain: There is still work to be done against Japan on Thursday to advance to the round of 16. Will win the group with a win, or with a draw if Costa Rica draw/lose to Germany.
Germany: The late draw preserves their chances of advancing to the next round. Defeat Costa Rica and will have to keep an eye on how the Japan-Spain match will go as the scenarios are quite complicated.