ANALYSIS | How Germany’s draw against Switzerland underscored the confidence and tactical versatility of the squad

Julian Nagelsmann’s Germany concluded its (mostly) convincing Euro 2024 group stage with a hard-fought 1-1 draw vs Switzerland, securing their place in the knockout rounds after a labouring 90 minutes. The match was a testament to this side’s resiliency, but not so much to any presuppositions regarding its fluidity. Indeed, this was finally a match that saw Germany out of sync for at least half of the encounter. 

From the outset, the mood surrounding the German camp was one of cautious confidence. Having already demonstrated their potential with a dominant opening victory vs Scotland, and a reassuring outing vs Hungary, the expectations were high, yet tempered by the knowledge that Switzerland would present a stern test. The Swiss side, known for their disciplined defensive setup and quick transitions, did not disappoint in making life difficult for the hosts, particularly in the first half. 

The first half saw Switzerland pressing high and forcing Germany into uncomfortable positions. The Swiss midfield, led by the industrious Granit Xhaka, disrupted Germany’s build-up play, making it clear that they were not content to simply sit back and absorb pressure. Switzerland’s compact defensive lines and well-timed tackles ensured that Germany struggled to find any rhythm, often being reduced to speculative long balls and hopeful crosses that didn’t have the proper recipient to make use of them. 

Despite their best efforts, Switzerland’s high-energy approach began to show signs of fatigue as the first half wore on. The inevitable sense of urgency grew within Nagelsmann’s side. Their initial intensity waned, and Germany gradually started to find pockets of space. However, the first half ended with Toni Kroos and Co. still goalless, a reflection of Switzerland’s effective containment strategy that saw the soon to be retired icon have to work at a faster pace than has been seen thus far in the tournament’s infancy.  

The second half commenced with a noticeable shift in Germany’s approach. Nagelsmann’s half-time adjustments saw a more aggressive and committed German side take the field. The tempo increased significantly, with players like Jamal Musiala and Florian Wirtz making penetrating runs behind the Swiss defensive line. These dynamic movements stretched Switzerland’s backline and created openings that were previously unavailable in the half spaces. 

As the clock ticked towards full-time, Germany’s persistence and depth began to shine through. Nagelsmann introduced Niclas Füllkrug, whose aerial prowess provided a new dimension to Germany’s attacking threat. The physical presence of Füllkrug caused immediate problems for the tiring Swiss defenders, who struggled to cope with his strength and positioning. 

The decisive moment arrived in stoppage time. A well-delivered ball from David Raum found Füllkrug rising above the Swiss defence, his powerful header sending the ball into the back of the net and the German fans into rapturous celebration. It was a fitting climax to a match that at least warranted a Germany goal.  

The 1-1 draw not only cemented Germany’s position at the summit of their group but also underscored the burgeoning confidence and tactical versatility of the squad. Nagelsmann’s side exhibited their resilience in the face of adversity, adeptly adjusting their strategy and ultimately dismantling a steadfast Swiss defence.  

This is a team that still feels as if it’s got more to offer. A lethargic first-half will ultimately be forgiven in the wider context of Round of 16 qualification and the issues found their source in uncharacteristic individual error rather than tactical inefficiencies.  

Kroos, for example, saw his seemingly otherworldly pass completion percentage dip to 92.5%. (Ludicrous, I know). Meanwhile, Maximilian Mittelstädt and Joshua Kimmich found themselves rushed in possession and tested without it. Credit the Swiss approach. It was sharp, intentional, and aggressive from start to finish. 

Germany’s Nagelsmann expressed contentment with his team’s ability to salvage a draw while conceding that their performance was not without flaws. 

“In the end its a well-deserved point,” he said. Of course, on the counter, you take risks and can concede. We did well to come back. We deserved to equalise and did well, tactically.” 

In the broader scheme of things, this has been a highly successful group stage for Germany. Musiala and Wirtz continue to be the heartbeat of the attacking endeavours while at least one change will be made in the Round of 16 in the name of Nico Schlotterbeck. The Borussia Dortmund defender will replace the now suspended Jonathan Tah. Nagelsmann’s Germany now likely awaits both the tantalising and cruel prospect of an early date with Spain in the tournaments Round of 16 in just a few days’ time.

GGFN | Reece Edwards

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