Soccer Gods Reward Spain And Germany’s Spectacular Match With A Good And Just Draw
7:35 PM EST on November 27, 2022
By pedigree and current talent, though not necessarily by prior tournament performance (we see you, Japan), Sunday's matchup between Spain and Germany had the look of a World Cup semifinal on paper. Neither of the two European giants came into this tournament as one of the true favorites, but because of their deep reserves of fantastic players, and the quality of their managers, who are two of the best in the game, it would shock no one to see both making deep runs in Qatar. The match between the two promised to be the most competitive one of the entire group stage from the moment the group was drawn, and the soccer gods, clearly satisfied by the hype-fulfilling display Spain and Germany in fact put on, rewarded the pair with what was from the tournament's perspective the best possible result.
As far as 1–1 draw's go, Spain-Germany was about as riveting as they get. From kickoff it was immediately evident that these were two serious teams who can match each other physically, technically, and tactically. The intensity of the match and the quality of the play was exactly what one would've hoped for from a game of this caliber. It was a true delight.
Though stylistically different, these are two teams with many similarities, who have both mastered many facets of what the modern game requires. Both have wickedly fierce presses, and both are great at resisting pressure. The ebbs of the match were mostly defined there, in terms of which team was at the moment more effective at strangling the possessions of the opponent while also wriggling out from opposition pressure. Both are committed to building out from the back, using the passing acumen of their central defenders and goalkeepers to control play from the very outset of their possessions. Spanish keeper Unai Simón had a typical performance, with a couple bad errors in buildup play that could've cost his team but with otherwise sound passing and a couple huge stops to more than make up for his mistakes. Spain and Germany also share a flaw in the goalscoring department. Both started natural attacking midfielders in the striker position—Marco Asensio and Thomas Müller, respectively—and both will need to be more efficient in front of goal if they are to make this World Cup a special one.
But the biggest similarity between Spain and Germany can be found in their precocious leaders, 20-year-old Pedri and 19-year-old Jamal Musiala. As a decidedly pro-Spain and -Barcelona website, we've probably written enough about Pedri for now (and with more to come in the future, you can be sure!), so I'll take this chance to say a little about the German. It's scandalous how good Musiala is. He is still just a teenager, he plays on two world-class national and club teams, and he is probably already the star of both. There's something about Musiala's game that recalls a young Zinedine Zidane. It's the height, the litheness, and the body made of rubber. The way he bounces off and bends around challenges, the way he contorts his limbs so as to apply the precise touch his body position and the defenders' locations require, is simply outrageous. As with Pedri the other day, I am compelled to post this individual highlight reel of his here even though I know it's going to be taken down soon (I'll try to replace it with another one once FIFA's minions murder this one):
That Spain had the better of the first half of play, scored the opening goal in the 62nd minute, and held that lead until the 83rd, means the Spaniards probably feel like they should've beaten Germany. Alternatively, that Germany dominated the game after Spain's goal and came much closer to scoring a second than Spain did, means the Germans probably rue the fact that they weren't able to grab a winner. But I personally am very happy this ended in a draw. These are two obviously great teams, and the tournament deserves them both. And the draw, more than a win in either direction would've, is what best supports what the tournament deserves.
After two games, taking into account the opponents and the quality of play, Spain has been the most impressive team so far at this World Cup, and deservedly sits atop a tough Group E. They play Japan in the final match; as long as they don't lose, they should be assured the top spot. For that reason, Sunday's draw doesn't really hurt their future chances much.
For Germany, the draw is a huge boon. The Germans played very well for most of the Japan match but came up short in just a couple instances and wound up getting punished with a loss. But in light of the heights the Germans hit in that Japan game, their competitiveness throughout the Spain game, and also Japan squandering its position by contriving to lose to Costa Rica earlier on Sunday, Germany is currently the team that most deserves to qualify for the knockout rounds. They will have to earn their way by beating Costa Rica, preferably by a couple goals, but as long as they do the job there they should be through to the next round.
The soccer gods can be cruel and fickle, but I believe there is a logic to who they choose to favor. Helping Japan beat Germany, letting Spain trounce Costa Rica, and ensuring that Spain and Germany's magnificent clash ended in a draw testifies to it all. The key to deciphering the gods' judgments is focusing on the right subject. It's not about the individual players or teams, it's about the game as a whole. And after a Spain–Germany match so befitting of the latter stages of the World Cup, it's only right that both teams came away with a point that should help them both get there.