Brazil vs Germany World Cup 2014 analysis: Sami Khedira and Toni Kroos the brilliant twin pistons firing Germany’s engine

2009 was the turning point and five or six players from that team are doing well here

Germany’s historic victory over Brazil on Tuesday night was unprecedented but it was also an old football story: the triumph of a team over a set of individuals.

Joachim Löw’s side – unlike Brazil’s gaggle of strangers – were a coherent unit, 11 players with one plan but different roles. And while they were all excellent and indispensable, it was Toni Kroos and Sami Khedira, the twin pistons of their dominant midfield, who stood out the most.

Kroos and Khedira were brilliant throughout, winning the ball quickly, keeping it and surging forward into the Brazil area, meeting with remarkably little resistance. Their opponents, Fernandinho and Luis Gustavo, looked desperately and miserably lost, and were helplessly overrun throughout.

While Thomas Müller ran relentlessly in behind Marcelo, Miroslav Klose occupied the centre-backs, and Philipp Lahm overlapped, Kroos and Khedira waited outside the box, sizing up the gaping spaces in which they hurt Brazil.

 

The second goal came from Kroos’s sharp through ball to Müller, which was then worked to Klose. The third was scored by Kroos, bizarrely unmarked on the edge of the box. The fourth was Kroos again, robbing Fernandinho, playing a one-two with Khedira and finishing. Khedira scored the fifth, after breaking through yet again and exchanging passes with Mesut Özil.

It was an astonishing contribution from the two midfielders who can now aim, very realistically, to be world champions on Sunday night. Löw has found a system to bring the best out of them and it should triumph one final time.

Read more: Brazil 1 Germany 7 match report
The best memes from the game
Luiz falls from leader to symbol of national humiliation

In Germany’s first four games, Löw played a 4-3-3 with Lahm at the base of midfield. He is an excellent player but it did not always allow for enough protection and a ropy back four was nearly cut apart, first by Ghana and then by Algeria.

For France in the quarter-finals, though, in the heat of the Maracana, Löw moved Lahm back to right-back, sitting Bastian Schweinsteiger in front of the back four and pairing Kroos and Khedira just ahead of him. It worked perfectly. Germany were too strong and too sharp, moving play forward incisively. The much-vaunted France midfield could barely get the ball from them. The only goal came when Mats Hummels headed in Kroos’s free-kick.

A similar plan worked even better in Belo Horizonte on Tuesday night, in what must have been the high-point in each of the two players’ careers so far. They have both won titles and the Champions League before but nothing that will compare to this week, and Sunday’s World Cup final in the Maracana, an evening that has been long in the preparation.

Khedira is 27 and Kroos just 24 but they have been working and developing together for some time. Khedira was captain of the German team that won the 2009 Under-21 Championship, famously along with Hummels, Özil, Manuel Neuer and the rest. Kroos, then a teenager starting to impress on loan at Bayer Leverkusen, was surprisingly left out.

“It started off in 2009 when we won the Under-21 tournament and beat England 4-0 in the final,” Per Mertesacker said in the aftermath of Tuesday’s famous win. “That was a real turning point and five or six players from that team are doing well here.”

Both Kroos and Khedira went to the World Cup in South Africa four years ago. Khedira started every game while Kroos came on as a 20-year-old substitute in the quarter-final and semi-final against Argentina and Spain, as Germany’s youngsters developed the tournament nous that has proved so valuable in Brazil. It is hard to think of a better “pathway”, to use English football’s new favourite word.

That was the summer that Khedira moved from Stuttgart to Real Madrid, while Kroos started to impose himself on Bayern Munich’s first team. They continued to grow and to win trophies but Kroos has not been able to agree a new deal at Bayern, who are ready to sell him rather than see him leave on a free. Manchester United are no longer interested, leaving Khedira’s Real as his likeliest destination. It might be difficult for Carlo Ancelotti to play the two together, but there can be no doubt what a devastating combination they are.

News
people
News
A survey carried out by Sainsbury's Finance found 20% of new university students have never washed their own clothes, while 14% cannot even boil an egg
science...and the results are not as pointless as that sounds
News
politicsIs David Cameron trying to prove he's down with the kids?
News
Cumberbatch was speaking on US television when he made the comment (Getty)
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea