Arsenal Player Reports: Germany-Portugal 09/06/12Posted: June 9, 2012
Another as part of my work for GunnersOpinion.com, this time for the Arsenal players featuring in Germany’s game with Portugal.
The Arsenal players available to play in the second game of Group B were Per Mertesacker and new signing Lukas Podolski. But unfortunately for the big, big centre half, he picked up a fresh knock on the ankle he injured against Sunderland in the week, which meant that he did not make the starting eleven, but was on the bench, with Holger Badstuber partnering Mats Hummels at the centre of the German defence. This was Podolski’s first game since officially becoming an Arsenal player, and many supporters were to catch their first glimpse of the £10,000,000 signing.
Germany’s play was more focussed down the right hand for most of the first half. Podolski’s first contribution was a low drive from around 20 yards out, which was well saved by Portugal goalkeeper Rui Patricio. His next real contribution was to fire a free kick into the Portuguese wall 25 minutes in. A few minutes later he shanked a decent chance high over the bar, prompting a plethora of snide comments from various journalists on Twitter. He saw the ball a little more over the remainder of the half. In attempting to observe the former Köln man it was curious to see how Germany changed shape with and without the ball. While defending they were clearly playing 4-2-3-1, with Podolski out on the left hand side but when attacking, Mesut Özil moved out to the left wing and Podolski further inside, meaning Germany were playing 4-2-4. But it was, overall, a quiet first half for the German forward. It was interesting to see, given the potential for a similar role for Arsenal next season, and the tactical flexibility it could provide.
He struggled for space at the start of the second half, epitomised by the heavy touch he took in the Portuguese area while being closely marked by Real Madrid’s Pepe. He remained somewhat beneath the radar as Germany took the lead through Mario Gomez with 20 minutes remaining. Some minutes before the goal, he had sent a very good cross to the Bayern Munich striker, which he subsequently headed over the bar. Overall, not one of Podolski’s better days, but there were some encouraging moments. He has a lot more to offer Germany and will hope that he is more able to showcase his talents in the games ahead.