It was over before it had begun. Germany, the reigning world champions, came into their round of 16 match with Slovakia under plenty of scrutiny. They left triumphant, having delivered a performance which would have been good enough to beat any team in the world. They sent a clear message to the rest of the competition with the 3-0 victory, a game which they dominated throughout. Germany started on top, and they were not really challenged by Slovakia in the opening minutes. Then the chances started to come. Toni Kroos put a dangerous free kick into the box, and Sami Khedira’s header had to be tipped over the bar by Matus Kozacik. The first goal followed, as the corner was only headed away as far as Jerome Boateng, who volleyed from range into the bottom corner. Kozacik didn’t have a chance after the ball deflected off Milan Skriniar, and Germany had the early lead.
Mesut Ozil should have doubled the lead minutes later when Martin Skrtel’s shove on Mario Gomez resulted in a penalty, but Matus Kozacik was able to save the spot kick and keep the score at 1-0. The Germans kept coming, and it never really looked like they would be denied for long. The Germans were getting into good positions and finding chance after chance, but it may not have been enough had Manuel Neuer not been there. Juraj Kucka’s header was destined for the top corner, but the German captain dived well to keep it out.
Then the inevitable happened, and the Germans doubled their lead. Germany tapped the ball along the left sideline before Julian Draxler slipped in behind Slovakia’s defence. He ran along the by-line and cut the ball back in for Mario Gomez, who only needed one touch to put the ball past Kozacik into the top corner. Slovakia came out after half-time looking better, but Germany were comfortable and never really looked like conceding. The contest was dead, and Draxler put the final nail in the coffin when he netted the third with a volley. Kroos put in an excellent corner, and Mats Hummels’ header found Draxler in the six-yard box. The volley was unstoppable, and after the goal the life was completely out of the game. Neither team really looked like scoring, and the German fans sung with joy as their side cruised to an easy victory.
Lille – Stade Pierre-Mauroy
Germany 3 (Boateng 8, Gomez 43, Draxler 63)
Referee: Szymon Marciniak (Pol)
Germany (4-2-3-1): Neuer – Kimmich, Hummels, Boateng (Howedes 72), Hector; Kroos, Khedira (Schweinsteiger 76); Muller, Ozil, Draxler (Podolski 72); Gomez.
Slovakia (4-3-3): Kozacik – Pekarik, Skrtel, Durica, Gyomber (Salata 84); Hrosovsky, Skriniar, Hamsik; Kucka, Duris (Sestak 64), Weiss (Gregus 46).
1. Julian Draxler (Germany)
Draxler was in top form in his return to the starting line-up, and he was heavily involved from the beginning. He was very active early as Germany asserted their authority, and he provided a great assist for Gomez with a brilliant run down the left wing. He capped off a classy game by scoring Germany’s third goal, and by the time he was substituted for Lukas Podolski the match was over.
2. Toni Kroos (Germany)
Kroos was particularly influential from set pieces, but he also provided a calming influence in the middle of the park and created plenty of opportunities in open play. His corners were the spark for two of Germany’s goals, and he was at the top of his game as he led the Germans to a big win. He was unlucky not to score in injury time when he had a great chance, and he was in top form.
3. Matus Kozacik (Slovakia)
Kozacik may have conceded three goals, but he did very well to ensure that that figure was not much higher. He made a brilliant stop early on to deny Khedira, and he did very well to save Mesut Ozil’s penalty just after the first German goal. His job was much easier in the second half when Germany took their foot off the gas, but he showed his class again when he denied Kroos in the dying moments.
4. Mats Hummels (Germany)
Hummels played a solid game at the heart of the German defence, and he was able to make a difference going the other way as well. His distribution was excellent as ever, and he provided the assist for the third goal with a good header from Kroos’ corner. He was in good touch, and never looked like being beaten by the Slovakian attack.
5. Joshua Kimmich (Germany)
Kimmich played a good game from right back, and his work helping out the attack caused plenty of problems for Slovakia. He found the ball with ease, and his crosses into the box were generally difficult to deal with. He was booked shortly after half-time for a blatant handball, but he put in another strong performance to ensure his selection for the quarter finals.