In addition to the full-time TV reporters, there was another permanent commentator in the Düsseldorf Rheinstadion. In the absence of work, Manuel Neuer accompanied the game between Germany and Latvia as a live coach, he talked hardly less than the constant talkers from television. He praised Toni Kroos (“good pass!”), Urged Matthias Ginter (“go, Matze!”) Urged to attack (“forward, men, forward!”) And solidarity (“help!”), But after one Neuer fell silent for half an hour. What else should he say? Germany led 3-0 and didn’t need any advice. Neuer watched the rest of the game relaxed from a distance and enjoyed the feeling of a successful, albeit not particularly meaningful, dress rehearsal. Only the Latvian consolation hit interrupted the peaceful time. The DFB-Elf finally won 7: 1 (5: 0) against the Baltic sparring partner, who is in 138th place in the world rankings between Myanmar and Tanzania.
At the last meeting with Latvia, during Euro 2004, there was a happy 0-0 for Germany, something like that was out of the question on Monday evening in front of 1000 cheerful spectators. The favorite left no doubt about his superior resources. The resistance in the dense Latvian defensive league lasted almost twenty minutes, then Robin Gosens found a hole in the fortress after a one-two with Kai Havertz. Ilkay Gündogan immediately scored the next goal, and after that it was more of an ambitious training match than a serious international match. Thomas Müller also reported back as the author of the 3-0, so to speak, for good.
Manuel Neuer had entered the field in the role of the main actor. In honor of his 100th appearance in the DFB jersey, his colleagues received him in the trellis. Neuer passed the corridor in his own way: not measured like a royal highness, but in the lively, springy steps that are typical of him. He was not allowed to present any other characteristic impressions of his special goalkeeping art, the teammates kept the Latvians away from Neuer’s goal. The goal we conceded – unsustainable, of course – annoyed him all the more, as we know him.
The most exciting moment of this entertaining but contemplative evening was possibly the moment when the DFB announced the line-up. Joachim Löw told on Sunday about his mental games to entrust Jonas Hofmann from Mönchengladbach with the job on the right wing in good time. Perhaps the next day he giggled quietly as he studied the prospective lists in the newspapers – the name Hofmann everywhere. In truth, Löw dared a great strategic leap and ordered Joshua Kimmich to his old regular seat at the side. A solution that he had never ruled out, but had consistently left out for years. Kimmich has a recognized value in central midfield and prefers to see himself in the role of quarterback. But Löw also has this problem with the oversupply of high-class midfielders. With Kimmich on the outside lane, he creates space for a creative control center in which Gündogan and Toni Kroos can contribute their experience and organizational skills. Whereby Kroos, known for a pass rate that tends towards 100 percent, made a surprising number of bad passes.
The Kimmich solution could also be suitable for the start of the tournament, and the offensive with Havertz, Thomas Müller and Serge Gnabry is a conceivable desired formation. A test against Latvia, however, hardly provides any information about whether the model is also good against France. This game was more suitable to lift the already noticeably good mood in the German camp a little. Löw has explicitly declared scoring goals to be the second focus of preparation, something the Germans had recently struggled with. Some players, who absolutely need it, now left the turf with a sense of achievement. Leroy Sané and Timo Werner, both substituted for the break, clearly enjoyed it.
At the end there was cheerful applause from the small colony of fans in the main stand and even a kind of lap of honor for the team – you almost wanted to see a touch of the EM atmosphere in Düsseldorf.