Germany was roundly criticized for needing overtime to get past African upstart Algeria in the round of 16 on Monday. Though Joachim Loew’s men ultimately won the match 2-1 thanks to goals from Andre Schurrle and Mesut Ozil, the Germans looked frustrated for long stretches of the 120-minute contest, which finished 0-0 after 90 minutes. In its post-game report, the Guardian described the tournament favorite as “a puzzle” for easily dispatching Portugal, 4-0, but then struggling in subsequent games against Ghana, the USA and Algeria.
“It was a victory of willpower,” Loew said after the game. “We didn’t play well in the first half – we had major problems – but the important thing was that we
got through. You cannot always play fantastically. You will get these games at a tournament. It’s about winning."
Defender Per Mertesacker was more defensive: “Would you rather we played beautiful football but got knocked out?” the Arsenal center back asked. “Do you think that just Mickey Mouse teams are involved in the last 16? All that matters is we’re in the quarterfinals.”
In its report, the Guardian noted that the German back four played with an extremely high line, which resulted in several breakaways for the Algerians, forcing goalkeeper Manuel Neuer to act almost like a sweeper. Throughout, Loew’s men were also guilty of several careless, individual errors not usually associated with Germany.