Shaky Germany prevail 2-1 after extra time
France will not be as forgiving as Algeria if Loew's men do not improve for quarter-finals
ROUND OF 16
(Andre Schuerrle 92, Mesut Oezil 120)
(Abdelmoumene Djabou 120+1)
- After extra time. Full time 0-0.
Germans never quit. They find the extra stride. They twist every nerve and sinew to breaking point, but they endure. They survive. They prevail.
Joachim Loew's methodical men rarely lived up to their reputations, struggled with the circumstances and played within themselves.
But in extra time, Andre Schuerrle and Mesut Oezil edged ahead of the Algerian defence to smash African hearts.
Television cameras mercilessly closed in on crying faces in Porto Alegre, the tears running through their painted Algerian colours.
There were plenty of weeping souls to choose from.
Algeria offered everything, left nothing in the dressing room, but it still wasn't enough. They were dead on their feet by the end, emotionally and physically spent.
Germany ruthlessly, systematically and efficiently stepped over the broken bodies and moved on to a date with France at the Maracana in the last eight.
They didn't play well. They won't care. The job was done. Germany had won 2-1.
Much was made before the game of Algeria's Muslims observing Ramadan and struggling with the game's pace, but the Europeans looked the most listless.
Mats Hummels was a late withdrawal with flu and the symptoms appeared to be spreading.
Fatigue filtered through the Germans, missing not only their centre back but their renowned industry.
Jerome Boateng and Per Mertesacker might make the perfect pair, but not with each other.
Loew's decision to shuttle Boateng alongside the Arsenal defender was understandable, but Boateng struggled with his positional discipline and Mertsesacker appeared to struggle with the use of his limbs.
Algeria probed the space between them, forcing Philipp Lahm to drop back and negate his attacking influence in the first half.
Napoli's left back, Fauzi Ghoulam, hounded inexperienced replacement Shkodran Mustafi and almost played provider and scorer as he and striker Islam Slimani led Germany on a merry dance.
Manuel Neuer had 11 touches of the ball outside his own penalty area in the first half, over-compensating for his side's high defensive line and concentration lapses.
OFF THE PACE
Germany were off the pace and out of sorts. They were lucky to trudge off on level terms. Loew had seen enough. He hooked the ineffective Goetze and introduced Schuerrle. The move proved to be a masterstroke in extra time.
But, if the Chelsea winger marginally improved his side's presence along the left initially, he couldn't gloss over Germany's worrying bald spot.
They are bereft of pace in front of Neuer, who effectively played sweeper in the second half as Algeria intuitively realised that Boateng and Mertesacker probably didn't win the sprints on school sports day.
France will be taking notes. Balls through the middle leave the defensive men in a muddle.
Neuer's interception and distribution offered greater consistency and attacking impetus than his teammates.
Germany dominated possession, but there was a clear disconnect between Thomas Mueller and midfield. Oezil drifted out to the game's wilderness early on and forgot to come back. He was lost on the right wing; a hitchhiker trying to thumb a ride as others passed him by.
But the Teutonic campaigners are nothing if not tenacious, particularly after Sami Khedira came on for the limited Mustafi.
They pressed relentlessly in the final minutes. Mueller and Bastian Schweinsteiger both had a couple of chances to kill off the courageous Africans.
By the final whistle, the Desert Foxes were parched. Their eccentric coach Vahid Halilhodzic rallied them around him, the players literally encircling him as he roused at them, screamed at them, to defy their exhaustion and go again for a final 30 minutes.
But their legs were gone. They were running on empty, allowing Schuerrle to run ahead in the 92nd minute and send the Germans to Rio.
Oezil added a second in stoppage time and, extraordinarily, substitute Abdelmomene Djabou slotted in a consolation for Algeria that was too little too late.
In the end, Algeria had absolutely nothing left to give.
France will not be so obliging at the Maracana.