Analysis: Goretzka and Werner continue to stake World Cup claims

Germany’s second string completed their passage into the final of the FIFA Confederations Cup, as they efficiently brushed aside Mexico in Sochi.

However as shown by Joachim Löw’s selection for this tournament, their participation in Russia is less about adding to the impressive collection of silverware and more about giving the experience of tournament football for a fresh batch of players.

And this victory gave another opportunity for two of Germany’s most impressive youngsters to again stake their claims to be a key part of their FIFA World Cup campaign, back in Russia, next summer.

Goretzka cements status as Germany’s newest midfielder maestro

Germany came to Russia without at least 12 of their first choice players, with only Joshua Kimmich, Jonas Hector and Julian Draxler amongst their regular starters in recent times being involved.

The idea was to give fringe players their chance to shine, and if one man has done that, it’s Leon Goretzka. This game highlighted just why he could be the one to stake his claim for a starting place this time next year.

Two excellent finishes inside the first eight minutes meant the 22-year-old's name was up in lights, but his positioning for both goals show how he can be a menace for defenders all over the pitch. He found the gaps in the, admittedly chaotic, Mexican defence and used them to the fullest.

The second goal highlights this. With centre forward Timo Werner picking up the ball up field, Germany were without a man in the box to finish off the attack. Cue Goretzka’s run from midfielder, charging his way from midfielder to be in position once Werner was ready to pass.

With Germany’s ever-fluid shape and the blurred lines between their midfield and attack, there is little doubt that he could slot in seamlessly to the first choice eleven, if room can be found. Sami Khedira, Toni Kroos and Mesut Özil theoretically have the central positions tied down, however Khedira, 31 next summer, might be the most vulnerable of those, although his more defensive role could stifle Goretzka’s creativity if used as a direct replacement.

Werner proves all-round talents again

One area that is definitely up for grabs ahead of the World Cup is the centre forward’s role. Since the retirement of Miroslav Klose, and the decline in Mario Gómez’s powers – despite his recent revival – Löw has often resorted to using a false nine, most often Thomas Müller, who is anything but a conventional front man, or Mario Götze, who rarely convinced in the role.

Despite the perceived lack of other German strikers, Löw resisted calls to bring in veterans Stefan Kießling or Alexander Meier despite their form, however the Bundesliga season just gone has provided him with options to bring to this tournament, including Sandro Wagner, an old-fashioned target man, and Lars Stindl, more of a natural number 10 than a straight out front man.

However it is Werner who has impressed the most when given the opportunity. Goretzka’s second goal again highlighted his willingness to become part of the midfield play, giving Löw the dynamic, all-round front man that he has clearly been longing for.

He also has the knack of a Klose-type poacher, as seen with his own third goal here. Disregarding the fact he was in an offside position as Hector received the ball in the build-up, the RB Leipzig man put himself in the perfect position to turn it in once Hector put in his cross.

Werner isn’t the complete package yet – he is only 21 after all – and there are one or two more unsavoury aspects to his game that have earned him plenty of criticism in Germany. But with another season under his belt, and UEFA Champions League football to boot, he looks set to be Germany’s number 9 in twelve months’ time.

Can Germany add another trophy to their collection?

After their 1-1 draw in the group stages, Germany will be reunited with Chile in the final. Both sides could make claims to be favourites, but one must not forget that this isn’t Germany’s full-strength side, and it showed against Mexico at times.

Defensively they allowed Mexico a lot of time on the ball after they raced into their 2-0 lead. El Tri ended up with more possession (61-39%) and more shots (26-12), something you could not envisage if they had the experience of Mats Hummels or Jérôme Boateng at the heart of their defence.

What they did do well at times was suffocate the space in their own box, whilst Marc-André ter Stegen continued to cement his spot as Manuel Neuer’s primary back-up with plenty of vital saves. By the time he was beaten by Marco Fábian’s sensational strike in the 89th minute, the game was long since up.

Mexico were little obstacle though. As they already know, Chile are a much tougher force with players like Arturo Vidal and Alexis Sánchez who can really hurt them. Bringing in Sánchez’s Arsenal teammate Shkodran Mustafi might help to solidify their defence to counter that threat.

The two teams mated each over toe-to-toe in the first meeting, and the final is likely to be a similar affair. Germany’s attack now though is in full flow – just look at the seamless flow of the passing ahead of the third goal – and they definitely have the flair and pace to hurt the Chileans and take a first Confederations Cup title.