Exactly a week back, Christian Wueck suffered one of the low points of his career. "A black Monday," he would call it. The coach of the German Under-17 football team saw his side fall to a 0-4 loss against Iran in the group stage of the FIFA U-17 World Cup. It was the nature of the loss to a far lower ranked team as much as the defeat itself that was disheartening. "We didn't know what to do. We were inferior to them in everything," coach Wuek would say.
The Monday of October 16 would be a far more memorable day for Wueck and the German team. Their scoreline of the previous week was reversed, with Colombia at the wrong end of a 4-0 hammering at Delhi's Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium. Any of the doubts that had crept into German minds would have subsided as they became the first team of the World Cup to advance to the quarterfinals.
There was little they did wrong on Monday evening. Captain Jann-Fiete Arp scored a brace and also set up an assist for John Yeboah. The German defense which had been left ragged against Iran proved impossible to get behind with any consistency for Colombia. The South American team had more possession (64%) and completed passes (485-259) but were mostly camped inside their own half as a consequence of a high German line.
Against an inspired opponent, Colombia were guilty of making costly defensive errors. Arp scored the opening goal in the seventh minute after keeper Kevin Mier failed to make a routine stop. Arp would add another in the 65th minute after coming in the way of a Colombia pass inside their half. Yann Biseck would be unmarked when he headed in Germany's second goal in the 39th minute. It was a very nervy performance from Colombia who were making their first World Cup appearance in eight years.
Yet, it would unfair to deny Germany's superiority on the day. They had started the tournament slowly with a hard fought win against Costa Rica, followed by the shock loss against Iran. For a team considered one of the pre-tournament favourites, it was a defeat that had helped the side refocus. "After the Iran game, the coach and us sat together for an hour-and-a-half and we discussed what we had done. We knew we couldn't have another game like that," says Yann Biseck.
Germany had done their homework for the clash against Colombia, who must themselves have been full of confidence as they came off an upset 3-1 win over the USA.
"They are a side of big physical players. We know Colombia is a physical team. The game of Colombia is long, high balls. We know we will get chances if we are very fast and win tackles. And that's what we did," Wueck said.
Despite the flattering scoreline, Wueck knows his side's task isn't yet done. While the defense did its job competently, the finishing was still short of perfect. "We had many chances to score and in our quarterfinal we have to score more goals. Against Colombia, we could have scored six or seven times. We need more quality in offence."
Wueck, though, admits his side is shaping up well and that they might have turned the corner after the wake-up call against Iran. "We had a bad Monday against Iran. Now I think we are at the level we want to be at."