Germany defends deep
Without the ball, Germany displayed a quite passive 5-4-1 mid-block, which meant they almost never tried to disturb the Chilean build-up efforts. Their defensive system worked almost in a position-oriented way: there weren’t any specific adjustments or shifting movements(unless wingbacks’ slight forward movements which is almost natural in a five-man-defense) which would have purposed aggressive pressure on the ball-carrier or even the coverage of higher zones. They have had a similar defensive approach throughout the whole tournament, and Löw’s such strategy is anything but surprising. Even if they have participated with their B team(in a B tournament as well…) these players have played a long season with tons of top-level matches. Applying high pressure in this poor physical condition isn’t advantageous at all, and of course why should they make all their best physical efforts in a such underrated and unnecessary tournament?…
Chile progress between the lines
At the other side of the coin, Germany couldn’t control the match with a such passive defending as well as they would have hoped. Chile dominated possession in the most part of the match and had clear ideas in order to exploit the German 5-4-1. In the same way as we have seen throughout their previous matches, Chile’s positional play had a clear orientation to the centre. The most focal space of their offensive plan was the space between Germany’s defensive and midfield line.
On paper, Chile played in a 4-3-1-2 formation, but they had several positional adjustments in order to open up space between the lines. One of their nominal central midfielders, namely Hernandez had a rather deep role and his movement was coordinated mainly with Diaz’s one. One of them consistently dropped between the two centre-backs. This layout had clear benefits: it gave them a safer bases in order to circulate the ball at the back and it allowed them to create more vertical passing lanes as well. Although movements invited pressure weren’t so frequent in Chile’s build-up, Germany’s little presence in higher zones gave the defenders more time and space with the ball. It definitely made easier to manipulate Germany’s midfield chain as well, even if it generally displayed a good horizontal compactness. Despite their nominal position, Aranguiz and Sanchez tended to play between the line with Vidal, providing vertical options. Although their movements weren’t coordinated perfectly, they could be found several times by Chilean back players.
By the way, Chile had an other combination in order to play the ball between the lines. These were lateral break-ins, executed through the fullbacks, mainly through Isla. At this point, fullbacks’ movement was interesting: they were rather oriented to the centre than drifting outside and looking for crosses. After receiving a direct switch, they were often looking towards the space between the lines. Lateral break-ins were usually executed with diagonal passes as they have enough time and space between Germany’s first and second pressing line.
Despite their offensive efforts, Chile failed to score any goals. Their movements worked nowhere near perfectly. Although they had clear chances to score goals, their offensive game could have been even more effective. Unless Vidal, Vargas and Aranguiz often failed to turn towards the goal when receiving between the lines, furthermore, their lay-off passes simply weren’t precise enough. At times, they failed to maintain proper distances between them, with occupying for example the same spaces which is always disadvantageous from an offensive point of view.
Pressing higher up
In a similar way than in the group stage battle, Chile showed an aggressive pressure on higher zones which have resulted serious trouble to Germany when building up from the back. They utilized approximately the same pressing mechanism. The formation was rather resembling to a 4-3-3. Vidal stepped up becoming the first man, whilst Sanchez and Vargas were responsible for closing the half-spaces in front of Ginter and Rüdiger. With a such shape concentrating on presence in higher zones, they found themselves in a 3v3 situation with Germany’s centre-backs. As one of the three front man pressed the ball-carrier side back right after receiving the ball from ter Stegen, their time and space with the ball were seriously restricted. Two of the three midfielders were tasked with mark Stindl and especially Rudy. Furthermore, diagonal ball towards the wingbacks were also prevented, as Beausejour and Isla always marked them with a well-timed shifting movement. Although Germany spent just a little time in possession, it was resulted in part by Chile’s aggressive approach without the ball, which seriously restricted Germany’s possible construction efforts. When having the ball at the defensive third, all their dangerous options where blocked, and they were forced to make tactical adjustments quite early, using long balls.
Germany focused on half-spaces
Germany had only 32 percents(sic!) of possession in the Confederations Cup final which is really shocking to see as Germany have been known as one of the best possession powerhouses in worldwide football. This amount was caused by their passive defensive approach and Chile’s well-organised pressing as well.
A few times, when Germany were in offense, they tried to overcome the Chilean pressure with a strong focus on the half-spaces. The most common method was ter Stegen’s long ball to the half-space, followed by a lay-off combination towards the defensive midfielders. It was a fairly safe solution in order to bypass Chile’s dangerous pressing movements and have some dynamical superiority.
Germany’s halfspace-oriented offensive plan had several benefits: with such combinations, they were able to put the ball in favorable positions. From the half-space, wingbacks were available for a direct switch as well as forwards for a diagonal ball. This approach allowed to the inside forwards to interchange positions if needed. Werner often drifted a bit wider into the left halfspace. It opened up the centre for Draxler and brought the backs into a decisional crisis. space. This method was an easy way for Germany to create chances especially during transitions. In Sebastian Rudy, they had a deep-lying playmaker, whose favorite thing is diagonal balls to the flanks or even to the half-space.
Despite Chile’s dominance, Germany won the Confederations Cup 2017 Final, even with a such passive approach. Chile could have scored more goals, but their performance in the final third was far from effective. They often failed by small, especially individual aspects. Germany won the confederations Cup absolutely deservedly. Even with this reserve-like team, they were the most organized in a tactical point of view. This shows well the strength of German hard-working and coaching, as they have dozens of top-level players even from the underdog teams of Bundesliga. Secondly, it shows the underrated and unnecessary manner of this tournament. National teams have played in a lower tactical level even in the World Cup and the European tournamnets. Why should tired players needed a tournament like this?