World Champions Germany asserted their dominance in international football with a 1-0 victory over Chile to win their first FIFA Confederations Cup despite fielding a second-string squad.
After Germany fans saw their team win the under-21 European Championship in Poland on Friday, they can once again celebrate another impressive tournament victory 12 months before they launch the defence of their world title.
Chile had the better of the opening encounters, but Die Mannschaft launched a rapid counter-attack against the run of play and while Chile initially neutralised the move, terrible mistake by Marcelo Diaz allowed Timo Werner to collect the ball and pass to Lars Stindl for an easy-tap in.
Despite the setback, the Copa America winners maintained the pressure against their opponents, somehow even doubling it in the second-half — but the German team that had not managed a clean sheet all tournament held them back as Chile’s Arturo Vidal and Angelo Sagal both blazed over the bar in the closing stages.
The second-half also turned ill-tempered as Vidal and Joshua Kimmich, both team-mates in Bayern Munich, were booked following one spat while frustrated Chile players piled on a prone Emre Can in an attempt to retrieve the ball.
Video assistant referee (VAR) technology was cast under the spotlight too after Chile’s Gonzalo Jara remained on the pitch despite landing an elbow in Timo Werner’s face during a second-half challenge. The foul was brought to the attention of referee Milorad Mazic, who reviewed the footage from the touchline but only proceeded to caution Jara with a yellow.
German coach Joachim Low, while suggesting diplomatically that it “could have been worthy of a red card”, did not allow the issue to dampen his spirits as the youngest team at the tournament lifted the trophy.
“The fact that these young players have won this trophy is a historic achievement. It’s unique in Germany history,” Low said. “It is just outstanding: players with so little international experience, with so few caps in other final matches, have been playing at the top level of quality.”
Even before the game, Low said that he felt “vindicated” of criticism for fielding an inexperienced squad and leaving out stars such as Marco Reus, Thomas Muller, Mesut Ozil, Sami Khedira, Mats Hummels and Jerome Boateng.
Indeed, with just 12 months left from the 2018 World Cup and winning a considerable accolade with what was effectively a second-string squad, Germany is a strong favourite and could very well become the third team ever to defend the World title successfully.