Today was supposed to be a day of celebration for the Germans. Manuel Neuer was set to get his record 96th cap against Spain, the most for a German goalkeeper and Germany needed just a draw to secure a place in the finals of the UEFA Nations League. They topped their group heading into gameday while Spain had to claw a draw from the hands of defeat against Switzerland to even get a chance to be through. Spain knew they had to win this game to make it through while Germany knew a draw was enough. It set up a tantalizing affair that delivered.
Alvaro Morata for Mikel Oyarzabal was the only change to Spain’s frontline from the last game. Rodri, Sergio Canales, and Koke for Sergio Busquets, Fabian Ruiz, and Mikel Merino. Jose Gaya for Reguilon is the final change. Germany switch to a 4 at the back from a 3. Matthias Ginter for Bote Baku at right-back with Robin Koch and Niklas Sule in the middle. Leon Goretzka, Ilkay Gundogan, and Toni Kroos make up the midfield. Interestingly Timo Werner starts on the left with Serge Gnabry through the middle and Leroy Sane on the right.
Morata with a first shot in the 2nd minute but it is weak and easy for Neuer. A dangerous swipe by Gundogan takes down Olmo on the edge of the box in the 5th minute. From the free-kick, Ramos forces a good save from Neuer to his right. In the 8th minute, Sule finds Werner with a good ball and he tries to tee up Sane but Pau Torres is back in time to take the ball away. Canales miscues a ball and collects an injury. He is of for Fabian, another injury during this ill-timed international break. Morata wins a second ball from a throw-in but fires over on 14. Moments later, the Spain striker heads in at the back post.1-0. Rodri finds Torres from a free-kick but he cannot work Neuer.
Olmo finds Torres behind the German defense but Neuer’s thigh and leg keeps it out on 30. Germany have used a 4-2 and a 3-4 to build play. Their use of a 3 involves Kroos dropping into the back. They switch between this and an orthodox 2-4. Good buildup play finds Torres but the Germans close down his angles. Koke sends in a cross but Olmo hits the crossbar. It falls to Torres who fires home. A good goal that he deserves. 2-0. Another goal from Spain moments later. This time it is Rodri.3-0. Fabian with a corner and he ran across club teammate Gundogan to find the far corner. Ramos is down and Eric Garcia is on for him. Another injury. Half time.
Jonathan Tah is on for Sule. Olmo drives through after winning the ball from Koch but Neuer saves with his leg on 47. Morata wins the ball from Tah and with so much space, he chooses the wrong pass on 49. Great buildup play and Fabian sends Gaya through after taking Tah out. He pushes the ball too far but Germany’s defense is all over the place and they cannot recover. Gaya squares to Torres who slips but finishes. 4-0. Gian-Luca Waldschmidt is on for Sane and Florian Neuhaus is on for oretzka. Great passage of play and Koke finds Torres with a backheel but his shot misses narrowly.
Morata heads down for Koke who finds Fabian but Morata cannot connect to the cross from Fabian on 68. Hattrick for Torres. Morata with good linkup play finds Ruiz down the line who sets up Torres. The youngster strokes it behind Neuer. What a performance from him! Morata, Olmo, and Torres off for Gerard Moreno, Marco Asensio, and Oyarzabal on 71. A thunderous Gnabry drive from range crashes off the bar on 76. Rodri simple ball over the top finds Gaya, Gaya through Tah’s legs finds Oyarzabal. 6.
Humiliation. A historic night ends horrifically. Low’s time with Germany might be up, if there ever was a performance that warranted a full-time sack, this was it. The last time Germany received such a defeat was 80 years ago. Die Mannschaft’s defense was shambolic, the midfield was lethargic and the frontline was enigmatic.