After Swedes, German defenders prove they are not turnips

Neuer enjoyed a peaceful day on the Rhein after the chaos of Berlin. Photo wikimedia/Steindy
England striking legend Gary Lineker once famously quipped during Germany's glory days: "Football is a simple game; 22 men chase a ball for 90 minutes and, in the end, the Germans win.'' On a damp autumnal evening in Berlin, Germany somehow let slip a seemingly impregnable 4-0 lead to allow an ordinary Swedish side a share of the spoils in a remarkable 4-4 World Cup qualifier.

After Germany's 30 minute defensive black out against Sweden, Lineker quickly re-evaluated via twitter. "Football is a simple game where 22 men kick a ball about for 90 minutes and, in the end, the Germans lose a 4-goal lead."

The spotlight fell on the culprits at the weekend. Most scrutiny focused on Düsseldorf where 4 out of 5 from last week's infamous back-line had an immediate chance to get it out of their collective system as Bayern Munich took on newly promoted Fortuna.

Goalkeeper Manuel Neuer was hardly tested all game on the Rhein as the record German champions coasted to a convincing 5-0 win - their 8th in succession in the Bundesliga, a record breaking start. Neuer spent most of the game admiring the handiwork of his front players, patrolling the scene from the edge of his box. It was a major event if Düsseldorf found their way anywhere near the 26-year-old's area. The underworked custodian had to battle boredom more than any threat from an outclassed home side.

As so often this season, Neuer and his defence (aided by the Brazilian Dante) were on cruise control all game. Phillip Lahm, Holger Badstuber and Jerome Boateng will not enjoy an easier game all season. Or perhaps they will. Statistics do not lie and Bayern have only let in two goals during this season's Bundesliga campaign, on both occasions at the Allianz Arena. Firstly VfB Stuttgart had the temerity to open the scoring in early September (later succumbing 6-1) and another consolation followed from the penalty spot against minnows Mainz. Bayern have yet to concede away from home.

In fact the only time they have had to cope with any pressure this season was on their travels to Eastern Europe to take on the might of the Belarusian champions BATE Borisov. Bayern succumbed to a shock 3-1 defeat in the Champions League. To the knowledgeable observer, this suggests that this defence is the Achilles heel of the Bayern setup. More will be revealed here in the coming weeks.

The other remaining 'villain' from Berlin, Per Mertesacker of Arsenal, was slow to react to a loose ball as the Gunners surprisingly lost to a Grant Holt goal at struggling Norwich City.

Dortmund's defender Mats Hummels, unfit to take his place for Germany against Sweden, recovered for the Revier Derby defeat against Schalke 04, captained by Benedikt Höwedes. After thankfully missing - for his reputation's sake - the 4-4 draw and the collateral damage of this famous defensive collapse, Hummels will have had another couple of million added to his price-tag and is sure to regain his spot at the next available juncture. German national coach Joachim Löw needs to be seen taking positive action to cure his side's defensive frailties and alarming soft spot.


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