Rival fans were all set to gloat in their failure, commentators were set to declare the World Cup as ‘blown wide open’ and German fans were on the verge of tears. Germany looked set to wave goodbye to their hopes of retaining their World Cup title when 1-0 down to Sweden at
half-time. A scrappy Marco Reus goal gave hope but would have kept Germany’s fate out of their hands. Then everything changed in the last minute as Toni Kroos stepped up with a stunning finish that resembled a textbook use of finesse on FIFA 18. Rival fans were on the verge of tears, commentators declared that we should never have doubted them while German fans maybe began to regain some of their pre-tournament optimism.
Even though Germany have kept their hopes alive, they haven’t been playing with their usual ruthless efficiency. Germany began the tournament as one of three clear favourites with bookmakers alongside similar heavyweights Brazil and Spain, but almost crashed out in an Argentina-esque fashion. Viewers will have been scratching their heads, and German fans may have fired up the FIFA 18 World Cup Mode to try and rectify some of the mistakes from real life. Germany are, of course, one of the most formidable sides on FIFA, with Toni Kroos ranked as the third best passer in the game and Jerome Boateng perhaps less prone to lapses in concentration when being controlled by the gamer. Timo Werner is an exciting addition to their FIFA squad with his incredible sprint speed of 92. In the past, Germany’s biggest weakness on FIFA was the lack of speedster up front, Miroslav Klose’s game being clinical and effective in real life but hindered by an absence of mobility on FIFA.
Muller was among many tips to challenge for the Golden Boot, but the early spells of Cristiano Ronaldo and Romelu Lukaku may have already put that accolade out of reach for any contenders currently goal-shy. Yet if Kroos taught us anything with his exceptional finish, it’s that quality usually prevails. Muller is too good to keep quiet, and if Germany go deep in this tournament he may even outscore Ronaldo. The longer Germany stay in the tournament, the shorter their price will inevitably get. The same is true for Muller; one hat- trick could change everything, and he is certainly capable of that at the highest level. Again, FIFA players will be looking to right the wrongs of Muller’s campaign so far, perhaps taking advantage of his finishing of 87 by relocating him to the central striker role. Werner became more incisive against Sweden when repositioned on the left flank, so FIFA players may want to do the same (or just call up Leroy Sane).
Winning without playing well is often cited as the hallmark of a top team, even though it is obviously most desirable to win and play well. Germany are the embodiment of that person you statistically dominate in a FIFA match, yet they score with their only shot on goal to grind out a 1-0 win. This is not true in the sense of statistical domination, as Germany had a stranglehold on possession against Sweden even after going down to ten men, but it is true in the sense that there is an inevitability about their success. This kind of ruthless aura is something that England have not had in recent years, which is why English fans would have been hoping that Sweden would perform a generous favour by eliminating one of the favourites at the earliest stage possible. Yet Germany have survived, and it would take a brave person to bet against them finding the momentum to take them to another World Cup final. If you fancy a challenge on FIFA, perhaps be one of the teams drawn in their group rather than controlling the Germans; with a squad of that calibre, expectations should be extremely high.