Going into the World Cup the Germans were not calm and collected, they were worried. Their boss Jordi Low was under immense pressure, they were struggling in the warm-up games and there was a huge national debate going on over the centre of their midfield. In Low’s 4-3-3 Toni Kroos’ place assured, who was going to play alongside him was a different matter.
Captain Philipp Lahm would probably start in the holding role – although he would be moved deeper as the tournament progressed – but the real concern was over the fitness of Bastian Schweinsteiger and Sami Khedira.
Both men were coming into the tournament off serious injuries and there were question marks over whether or not they would be able to play to the best of their abilities. Both players however have grown as the tournament progressed and last night against Brazil Khedira, who has been linked to Arsenal recently, gave a timely reminder of just how good he is.
The central midfielder featured in just 13 matches this season and since the start of November he played in just three matches. This is down to a knee injury and he surpassed doctors’ expectations by proving himself fit for the World Cup. Khedira is one of those players who rarely grabs the headlines but is integral for his team, he is a true box to box player, full of running and hard work.
With Lahm at right back like he was in the quarter-final against France Khedira played as the energy in the German midfield with Schweinsteiger sitting deeper and marking Oscar out of the game and Kroos more advanced, conducting the symphony.
With Fernandinho often missing in action Khedira was at liberty to make his penetrating runs forward and he did so with great effect, his heat map demonstrating just how mobile he was. Khedira’s passing was a healthy 87% and he created two chances but the assist he registered was a moment of pure composure.
Kroos played him through on goal but Khedira was stretching and on his weaker side so he cut the ball back to Kroos who fired home from an easier position. It was an amazing show of awareness and selflessness from Khedira but he was to be rewarded just moments later.
When Mesut Ozil was played through by Mats Hummels he executed a similar show of awareness by cutting the ball back to Khedira, who thumped the ball into the net to put Germany five up. He didn’t have the same level of impact in the second half but that was mainly because he was helping the Germans control the match and finish it in style.
Interestingly for Arsenal fans Khedira would probably play the same role in the team as Aaron Ramsey should be sign, albeit he isn’t as good as offensively. Khedira wouldn’t be able to play the holding role either and that is something for Arsene Wenger to consider when he is weighing up a potential transfer.
One more excellent performance in the final though may be enough to persuade Wenger though and if Khedira produce a similar performance Germany will be hard to stop. He will be important in getting the Germans started on the counter attack and ensuring that the playmakers in the opposition aren’t afforded too much time. Khedira dropped off the radar for most of 2014 but he’s back now, and he’s almost completed the job.