Coming off of their success in the 2014 FIFA World Cup, Germany were one of the favorites to win the EURO on French soil. Unfortunately, that did not come to fruition as they were beaten by the host nation 2-0 in the semi-final, making it the 2nd time they got knocked out at this stage in consecutive European Championships.
At the start of the start of the tournament, German coach Joachim Low insisted on playing attacking midfielder Mario Gotze as a false 9, leaving striker Mario Gomez on the bench. While the experiment worked against a lowly Ukraine side, lighting did not strike twice against Poland. For the first 60 minutes. It was Poland who were creating more chances. Poland were able to snuff out attacks through the middle as they were content with letting fullbacks Joshua Kimmich and Jonas Hector cross the ball into the box because Germany lacked a proper Aerial threat.
When Gomez got subbed, the game changed for Germany. While it was a 0-0 draw. Gomez was able to act as a point man where every German attack was based. He was able to occupy both center-backs to help players like Mesut Ozil and Thomas Muller get into the game, albeit late on into the match.
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Seeing the progress made in the second half, Low decided to stick with Gomez and placed him in the starting XI against Northern Ireland. The German striker was able to harass both center-backs Craig Cathcart and Johnny Evans as he got himself on the score sheet in their 1-0 group stage win to top the group. Germany looked as fluid as ever in this game as Gomez helped facilitate the play to the others get into the attack creating a plethora of chances in the process.
It was much of the same vs. Slovakia in the last 16 as they tormented Marek Hamsik and co. to a the sound of a 3-0 win. He also got on the scoresheet as well, as he was able to get the best out of Slovakian center-back Martin Skrtel for a tap in at the near post.
It was much tougher against Italy, but Gomez was able to occupy the Italian center-backs and assisted Mesut Ozil to give the Germans a 1-0 lead until Jerome Boateng gave away a penalty in the box because of a handball. Gomez had to get subbed off due to an injury and Julian Draxler replaced him in the 72nd minute. Germany would manage to hold on and win in penalties.
While many predicted a German victory against France, Gomez’s presence was missed.
Low resorted to Thomas Muller, putting him in the false 9 position against Les Bleus. Throughout the match. French center-backs Laurent Koscielny and Samuel Umtiti were able to snuff out German attacks coming through the middle because Muller lacks the qualities of a true number 9. He was unable to pressure on both center-backs and other German midfielders weren’t able to get into the game. Jonas Hector and Joshua Kimmich bore the responsibility of creating offense but every cross was met by a French forehead.
While two mistakes cost Germany the match, they did not look like the team likely to score during it, as they only created four chances, two of which came from right-back Joshua Kimmich (Curling shot and header). They were outmatched by the French, who made them pay as forward Antoine Griezmann sunk 2 past Die Mannschaft.
The problem for Germany was that they did not have a similar striker to Gomez on the bench. their only option, Lukas Podolski, had been converted into a left-sided player. When Germany play with a false 9, they lack a threat up top to give center-backs a hard time throughout the game. Thomas Muller and Mario Gotze were unable to facilitate play, as players such as Julian Draxler, Ozil, and Toni Kroos were unable to influence proceedings in which Gomez did not play in the EURO.
In the 2014 World Cup, Low resorted to bring on Miroslav Klose on against Ghana as they were down 2-1 and saved their blushes drawing the game level, and helped Germany win their 4th World Cup title. The false 9 experiment failed then, and it failed July 7th.
While Germany have many brilliant midfielders and wingers, they are deficient in options and talent up front. The next young talent, Kevin Volland, has shown promise, but still isn’t the finished product, and veteran Stefan Kiessling has lost the trust of Low.
Germany’s loss to France showed how valuable Gomez was to the team. If he was in the line-up, he could have given Germany a better shot to to play in the final at the Stade de France.
Mario Gómez has scored his 29th goal in 40 appearances for club and country this season.
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) June 21, 2016
Low and co. have much to think about in the next two years leading up the 2018 World Cup in Russia, but developing a striker should be at the top of their priorities.