by Satish Sekar © Satish Sekar (July 4th 2014)
A magnificent performance by Borussia Dortmundʼs returning Mats Hummels propelled Germany into a record fourth World Cup semi-final in a row. Hummels was immense at both ends, scoring the only goal of the match and reading the game incredibly in defence, including an exceptional block from Karim Benzemaʼs shot from 8 yards out.
After 12 minutes Juventusʼ Paul Pogba committed a seemingly innocuous foul on Toni Kroos. The Bayern München midfielder launched it into the area. Hummels out-muscled Real Madridʼs Raphael Varane to head past Hugo Llorisʼ off the crossbar. One behind France waited – perhaps too long – before deciding that the match was there for the taking. Germany await the winners of hosts Brasil against the entertaining Colombians in the semi-final.
Hummels commanded the defence, leading by example. There was only ever one contender for Man of the Match. Just ten minutes into the match Mathieu Valbuenaʼs pass was intercepted by Hummels with Real Madridʼs Karim Benzema poised to shoot. It soon became a pattern. With just over half an hour played Antoine Griezman crossed from the right wing to Valbuena on the left of the area.
Valbuenaʼs shot was saved by Bayern Münchenʼs sweeper/keeper Manuel Neuer. The rebound fell to Benzema. He shot from close range. It hit Hummelsʼ thigh and ballooned over the bar with Benzema wondering what he had to do to score. Less than five minutes before half time Blaise Matuidi crossed for Benzema. His header hit Hummelsʼ midriff, but the French optimistically claimed a penalty that quite rightly was not given.
France pressed more in the second half. With 15 minutes of normal time remaining Benzema was poised to level. He shot from close range, but Hummels – who else could it be? – slid in to block. Meanwhile, Neuer summed up Benzemaʼs match by nonchalantly slapping his shot away with one hand.
Germany created chances too. A lovely move on the right resulted in Philipp Lahm – back in defence – crossing for Miroslav Klose, who went down too easily, although Mathieu Debuchy was grabbing his shirt. Substitute André Schürrle really should have scored, but was denied by Lloris. It didnʼt matter as Germany progressed to the semi-final.