World champions Germany secured their first Confederations Cup triumph after a narrow victory against Copa America winners Chile during Sunday’s final in St Petersburg.
Lars Stindl broke the deadlock after 20 minutes, following a costly mistake by Celta Vigo’s Marcelo Diaz. Arturo Vidal and substitute Angelo Sagal both missed golden opportunities to level the scoring late on as the South Americans piled on pressure, but couldn’t make it count.
Timo Werner was a calculated livewire in attack for Germany and capitalised on the perfect opportunity after Diaz’s questionable decision-making was punished to devastating effect. Instead of clearing the ball or passing forward, Diaz opted to turn back facing his own goal and squandered possession, unaware of Werner hunting him down behind his shoulder.
Chile were dominant in the early exchanges and found themselves a goal behind against the run of play, though it could’ve been more if not for Manchester City’s Claudio Bravo.
Gonzalo Jara’s lapse in concentration allowed Leon Goretzka a chance from close-range, though the Schalke midfielder’s effort was well blocked by Bravo, who closed down the angles quickly.
Referee Milorad Mazic used a video replay to watch Jara’s challenge on Werner, which was both reckless and needless – before opting to book the defender, instead of issuing a straight red.
FIFA’s decision to trial the VAR system has led to plenty of debatable moments and controversy during the tournament, with the process taking around four minutes and highlighting the flaws which surround the new technology.
Chile registered 22 shots during a fast-paced final and still managed not to finish any, which is something they’ll look to improve upon ahead of next summer’s World Cup. They sit fourth in their qualifying group and definitely have room for improvement both defensively and in attack, if they’re to avoid missing out on next year’s competition.
As for Germany, it’s a refreshing taste of success once again following the u21s triumph in Poland on Friday evening. The future is certainly bright for Die Mannschaft and a number of talented prospects have done well to stake their claim for regular minutes once the remainder of first-choice players return.
Individually, how did Arsenal’s two representatives fare?
Showing flashes of individual brilliance, Alexis was a frustrated figure and one who presumably felt let down by his team-mates in the final third throughout. Regularly creating chances for Eduardo Vargas et al, Germany’s backline did well to restrict him at times and he forced ter Stegen into an important stop from a free-kick late on.
That just sums up the game from his perspective, frustrating because he himself performed well and was lively though a preventable goal cost them Confederations Cup glory.
Solid as usual, Mustafi excelled defensively in an important match where his contribution proved pivotal as Germany kept a clean sheet in the final. His composure in possession was crucial as Chile’s high press forced him to distribute the ball quickly from deep when he did receive passes to feet.
Aerially dominant, he used his strength to good effect and showed excellent awareness to make a number of important interceptions, clearances and blocks when called upon.