This is absolutely the best that Chile can offer. This is their golden generation at their peak; two South American titles in the bag and a World Cup to look forward to.
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This group has been together so long that eight of the squad here comprise eight of the first nine names on the list of the country’s most-capped players. They are so familiar with each other at this stage that they are more or less a club side.
They are in unison and have been whether it’s Jorge Sampaoli or Juan Antonio Pizzi on the sideline. Chile are the best team Latin America can offer the world. They have been dominant in two finals against Argentina and Lionel Messi and have outperformed a Brazil side unable to get their act together until this Conmebol qualification campaign.
And yet a Germany side with a fraction of their experience – 232 caps across the 23 members of their squad before tonight – subdued them. Chile threw everything they had at the young Germans – aggression, their hostility and – in the case of Gonzalo Jara – their elbows. This will go down as a huge test overcome; a crucial battle won as these players seek to build experience for bigger matches down the line.
This isn’t Germany’s best team; it’s probably somewhere between their second and third best with only Joshua Kimmich and Jonas Hector reasonably assured of starting in a full-strength XI. But Joachim Low – who sits on the top of the DFB pyramid – has put the national team in another dimension no matter the personnel.
There is nothing of the old German stereotype in them. There is nothing cold or clinical or anything else like that. This is an expert system which excels both with the ball and without it.
Low has created a hybrid team well ahead of the World Cup and one or two of his regulars might well be watching from their holiday villas wondering if they’re going to get back in the side.
Lars Stindl, who scored the winning goal here, and Timo Werner, who made it, have come into the national team picture and don’t appear to have any intention of letting their places slip.
Leon Goretzka behind them has probably been the tournament’s best player even if he missed a couple of potential chances on Sunday night. And yet he will have to fight past players like Mesut Ozil, Ilkay Gundogan, Marco Reus and Thomas Muller to even make the plane back to Russia next summer for the World Cup.
That kind of embarrassment in riches continues elsewhere. Manuel Neuer – recovering from injury – is keeping the goalkeepers of Barcelona, Paris St-Germain and Bayer Leverkusen at bay.
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Shkodran Mustafi, Antonio Rudiger, Matthias Ginter and Niklas Sule have all garnered the praise as well as the game time here and are behind Mats Hummels and Jerome Boateng in the national team reckoning at centre back.
Sebastian Rudy and Emre Can have performed well throughout the tournament in midfield but must dislodge Julian Weigl, Toni Kroos and Sami Khedira for a start in next summer’s competition.
Where does it end?
In other countries, they might be worried about who to include in the squads for next summer in order to make a decent 23; in Low’s case the biggest headache will be which of his 35+ plus players who are good enough for anyone else’s World Cup squad he should leave out.
Clearly all the Confederations Cup crew can’t go; nor will many of Europe’s latest Under-21 champions get their chance either. It’s about a rich a talent pile that’s ever been assembled in international football.
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If they were a club side they could win the Premier League and probably offload plenty of their fringe players for tens of millions for good measure.
And that is the difference between the best in South America and the best in the world. Chile have a band of 8-10 battle-hardened warriors – including Claudio Bravo, Alexis Sanchez and Arturo Vidal – staying together for as long as they can. So long as they’re fit they’ll play and they’ll play as long as they choose.
The Germans have replacements – and replacements for their replacements – in just about every position on the pitch.