Germany and Chile are through to the Confederations Cup semifinals. Neither put on especially impressive displays in their group stage finales, but a 3-1 win by Germany over Cameroon and Chile’s 1-1 draw with Australia were enough to do the job.
What did we takeaway from the two contests?
1 Germany’s midfield adjusted well in the second half
Germany looked completely uninspired in the first half, and they moved the ball far too slowly and inefficiently. The majority of their play was concentrated in the middle of the pitch, and they didn’t take advantage of their success on the wings, and it had to change after the halftime break. To their credit, that’s exactly what they did. Emre Can especially made a marked improvement, and it was his interplay in midfield that helped lead to Germany’s opener. Things were made a lot easier with the sending-off, but Germany’s midfielders did well to recognize their mistakes and change things up in the second half.
2 Cameroon still don’t have a go-to goalscorer
The Indomitable Lions haven’t had a quality goalscorer since Samuel Eto’o retired in 2014. They’ve struggled to get goals, but Besiktas striker Vincent Aboubakar has looked like their best hope up front. He had three strikes in the lead-up to Confederations Cup, but went the entire tournament without scoring a single time, leaving Cameroon wondering where the goals are going to come from moving forward. They had no problems creating chances this tournament, but putting them away was a real issue, and that’s a major concern. Aboubakar was able to salvage a consolation strike for Cameroon against Germany, but it was too little, too late.
3 Christian Bassogog was Cameroon’s only real threat
Despite going down a man early in the second half, Cameroon threatened Germany a number of times in the first half. Most of that danger came from the feet of Bassogog, and the Cameroon right-winger caused all sorts of problems with his movement, skill on the ball, and directness. He wasn’t able to create an opening for his side, or get a goal himself, but he was Cameroon’s only real dangerman on a frustrating day.
4 Chile were far from their best
Chile were supposed to cruise by Australia, but they definitely didn’t do that. There were long stretches where they were outplayed by the Socceroos. They couldn’t keep the ball, were overaggressive in the final third so Australia could strip them of the ball, and had no sense of shape (not that they are the most disciplined team in terms of shape to begin with) in defense. The result was a tough match that had them legitimately fighting for simply a one-goal loss for parts of it, that being the worst result that would still see them advance.
Chile have to be better in the semifinals.
5 Australia improved throughout the tournament
There’s no doubt that the Socceroos will be upset to head home after just three matches, but they can at least take solace in the fact that they improved throughout. They showed the ability to create chances in the opener against Germany, but were vastly outplayed. In the second match against Cameroon, they took some punches and had defensive issues again, but improved in the midfield. By the time they played Chile, their back line looked more confident and they had a real shape and ability to connect passes going forward.
Australia are still in a fight to qualify for the World Cup, but if they can play the way they did by the end of the Confederations Cup, we should see them in Russia again next summer.
6 Chile need to find a striker
Chile are unquestionably good. You don’t win Copa America in each of the last two years if you’re not, but the one issue that they run into at times is sub-par finishing. Alexis Sanchez is the best they have, but he’s often in a wider position and doesn’t get to be the team’s primary finisher. Against Australia, Chile could have had two or three goals with more clinical finishing, but instead they had to fight just for a draw.
Chile can win tournaments and make a deep run at next year’s World Cup with the squad they have, but if they can find a clinical striker, they will be truly deadly.
7 The semifinals look tasty
Portugal and Mexico advanced from Group A, as expected. Germany and Chile did the same in Group B.
Ho hum and boring? Nope, just what we needed for an amazing semifinals.
Portugal vs. Chile in one semi with Germany and Mexico in the other is going to make for two amazing matches. The only shame is we have to wait a few days for them.