2, July 2017
If Germany retain the World Cup next year, then perhaps this was the night that laid the groundwork. Chile will ask themselves how they lost this Confederations Cup final after they missed a number of chances and let in Lars Stindl for the winning goal with a defensive slip. But it was a triumphant night for Joachim Low and a group of players he opted to test run this summer ahead of the bigger challenge in 2018; he now has 11 months to sift through a more battle-hardened set of options than any other international coach has at his disposal.
Chile started at a ferocious tempo and carved Germany open within five minutes. Excellent work from Arturo Vidal freed Charles Aranguiz but, with the midfielder poised to pull the trigger, Antonio Rudiger executed a perfect tackle. The ball stayed alive and Vidal’s low drive was kept out by the legs of Marc-Andre ter Stegen.
The early onslaught continued, Vidal and Eduardo Vargas both trying their luck. It was near-incessant pressure and in the 19th minute Alexis Sanchez missed a glorious chance. He seemed certain to convert after Ter Stegen parried from Vidal but, perhaps taking his eye off the ball, failed to make a clean contact.
Within seconds Sanchez was made to pay. Germany had barely laid a glove on Chile but took the lead with a gift of a goal, Marcelo Diaz allowing Timo Werner to rob him of possession just outside his own box. Werner squared to Stindl for the simplest of tap-ins; nobody could say this turn of events had seemed remotely likely.
It was a shock to Chile; they began to huff and puff, and Leon Goretzka might twice have doubled Germany’s lead before half-time. First the in-form Schalke player fired across goal from Sebastian Rudy’s smart pass, then he was denied well by Claudio Bravo after Julian Draxler had capitalised on another lapse.
Draxler, surging through before a lunging Gonzalo Jara deflected his shot wide, threatened 10 minutes into the second half and Germany looked more than capable of picking off their older opponents on the counter. Chile were becoming fractious and Jara received a let-off when, after appearing to elbow Werner, a lengthy VAR review led to nothing more than a yellow card.
Tempers raised even further when, 15 minutes from time, Sanchez went down in the box after colliding with Rudy. Vidal shot over from the loose ball but Chile’s players furiously claimed a penalty and urged referee Milorad Mazic to review using the VAR. To their disgust, he failed to oblige although more conventional replays suggested Sanchez did not have a case.
Chile rallied for one last push, Ter Stegen tipping wide from Aranguiz, and then they missed their final big chance. Substitute Angelo Sagal had a gaping net to fire into when fellow replacement Edson Puch squared past a committed Ter Stegen, but he blazed over and with that wayward finish went his side’s hopes.