Lars Stindl scores only goal of final to help young German side to trophy, writes Gary Meenaghan from St Petersburg.
Sanchez's Chile made to pay for mistakes as Germany's 'B team' win Confederations Cup
Chileans brought the noise and effort, Germany brought the nous and efficiency, and defender Marcelo Diaz brought the noose to slip around his own country’s neck.
Germany, just days after winning the European Under 21 Championship, on Sunday night benefited from an avoidable defensive error to triumph 1-0 in a fiery and fervent final to be crowned Confederations Cup winners and exhibit their potential to defend the World Cup next summer.
The South American supporters far outnumbered their German counterparts inside the St Petersburg Stadium and after a rousing extra verse of the Chilean national anthem, their players appeared vastly more motivated. They utterly dominated the opening exchanges – exactly what Joachim Low, the German manager, had warned his young squad to avoid.
Low had spoken of the need for his inexperienced side to start strongly after conceding inside the opening six minutes when the two teams tied 1-1 in the group stage. Alexis Sanchez pressured Leon Goretzka into a mistake after just four minutes that led to an early chance for Charles Aranguiz. Moments later, Eduardo Vargas dispossessed Goretzka again, but his rifled shot was gratefully smothered by Marc-Andre ter Stegen.
Sanchez was proving a furious, Tasmanian Devil-like presence, but he failed to convert from close range in the 20th minute and was made to pay. Perhaps taking a leaf out of the Arsenal forward’s playbook, Timo Werner pounced on sloppy play by Marcelo Diaz inside the Chilean area. With Claudio Bravo rushing out his goal, Werner calmly passed across the goal for Lars Stindl to put his country into the lead and leave Diaz with a face as red as his shirt.
It was completely against the run of play and served only to awaken the world champions, who could have twice doubled their lead through Goretzka. The Schalke midfielder dragged his first effort wide of the far post and on the stroke of half time saw a second chance saved by Bravo.
Diaz was replaced by striker Leonardo Valencia shortly after the restart, but a skirmish between Joshua Kimmich and Vidal, his teammate at Bayern Munich, saw tempers begin to fray as the South Americans threatened to lose focus.
Gonzalo Jara, just minutes after managing a vital touch to steer Julian Draxler’s shot wide, was lucky not to be dismissed for an elbow on Werner. Referee Milorad Mazic, after consulting a video replay, decided to show only a yellow. Then when Sanchez went down in the area, the Chilean bench implored Mazic to review his decision.
A late double substitution by Juan Antonio Pizzi almost immediately paid off as Edson Puch stole the ball ahead from Ter Stegen and found Angelo Sagal, but the Huachipato striker blazed over an open goalmouth.
The victory is further proof of Germany’s strength in depth, but Chile must feel this was a chance gone begging to claim an intercontinental title. For all Vidal’s claims that Low’s squad is here on merit, German media billed the inexperienced squad as “not even the B team” for a reason and Chile, who have not progressed past the round of 16 at a World Cup since finishing third on home soil in 1962, must learn from this defeat if they are to avoid further disappointment next summer.
The German juggernaut, meanwhile, show no signs of slowing.