There’s an interesting look to the German starting eleven for the team’s first fixture of 2015, with both skipper Bastian Schweinsteiger and ‘keeper Manuel Neuer rested with Real Madrid’s Sami Khedira taking the captain’s armband and Hanover 96’s Ron-Robert Zieler between the sticks. Ahead of the Euro 2016 qualifier against Georgia in Tbilisi at the weekend, there is plenty of scope for Nationaltrainer Joachim Löw to experiment.
Borussia Dortmund’s İlkay Gündoğan takes to the field in the Nationaltrikot for the first time in more than two years, and his club team mate Marco Reus also returns to the starting lineup. Another player returning from long-term injury is FC Bayern München defender Holger Badstuber, whose last international outing was in October 2012 in the 4-4 draw against Sweden in Berlin.
It’s a crisp and dry evening in Kaiserslautern, and after a minute of silence for former player Wolfram Wuttke and the national anthems there’s another minute’s silence for the 150 victims of Germanwings flight 4U 9225 which observed perfectly by the capacity crowd of just over 47,000. During the national anthems, Schalke 04 defender Benedikt Höwedes has his own personal message for his home town of Haltern am See, which lost sixteen schoolchildren and two teachers in the tragedy.
1 min. Australia get the match underway, and the visitors almost create a chance in the opening seconds as the German defence are caught a little cold. Australia win the game’s first corner, but it comes to nothing.
3 mins. Khedira gives the ball away and Australia look to counterattack, but the men in all white quell the threat. It has been an enthusiastic start by the visitors.
5 mins. Germany win their first corner, and get three shots on goal in the space of a couple of seconds. First Reus tests ‘keeper Mathew Ryan at the near post, Badstuber gets in a shot what smacks against a defender, and Gündoğan’s shot from just outside the penalty area goes narrowly wide of the target.
9 mins. The Socceroos break the offside trap and FC Ingolstadt 04’s Matthew Leckie shows some good skill before flashing the balll across the face of the German goal.
10 mins. Gündoğan looks for 1. FC Köln’s Jonas Hector with a neat ball through the centre, but it is cleared behind for a corner which is safely cleared.
14 mins. Matthew McKay gets an excellent cross in to the German box and Nathan Burns gets in front of his marker, but his header fizzes wide. That was an excellent chance for Ange Postecoglou’s side. The action quickly switches to the other end as Reus shows some good close control but cannot work the ball past Ryan.
15 mins. Mario Götze picks out Hector in space just outside the opposition penalty area with a lovely pass, but the full-back’s shot is blazed wide.
16 mins. Luke DeVere’s error is seized upon by Mesut Özil and Reus has the ball in the back of the net as he flicks in Gündoğan’s shot that was just floating wide, but is flagged for offside.
17 mins. This time there’s no mistake. Khedira makes a bustling charge through the middle before advancing the the left of the penalty area, and his sideways pass is perfectly timed for Reus to provide the perfect finish with an outstretched right leg. 1-0.
Marco Reus pounces on Sami Khedira’s well placed cross to give Germany the lead after seventeen minutes
20 mins. Götze beats the offside trap and is free inside the Australian box, but dallies on the ball just a little too long before trying to find Özil.
23 mins. Aussie skipper Mile Jedinak gives the ball away to Reus, and the Dortmund man arguably has way too much time to beat Ryan. It’s a very promising opening, but he hits his shot wide of both the ‘keeper and the target.
27 mins. Germany win the ball in midfield after another Australian error, and Özil finds Hector to his left. On his wrong foot, the Köln blazes his shot high over the goal.
28 mins. Jedinak fires in a well-struck shot from around twenty-five yards that looks to be creeping into the goal, and Zieler dives well to his left and turns it behind. The corner comes to nothing, and the Nationalmannschaft clear their lines safely.
33 mins. A good couple of minutes for the visitors, who are keeping the ball nicely as they look for an equaliser.
37 mins. Hector sends in a teasing left-wing cross which is turned behind by Jason Davidson at the far post. Once again though, Germany can’t make anything out of the corner.
40 mins. Out of nowhere the Aussies are back in the game. A throw-in by the byline, a nicely-timed cross from Burns, and a firm header by James Troisi who gets in front of Badstuber to leave Zieler no chance. There are still plenty of defensive issues for the Nationaltrainer to iron out, and this is just another example of it. 1-1.
44 mins. Germany are foiled by the offside flag again as Khedira strays in front of the yellow and green back line.
45 mins. The referee blows for half time.
A pleasant and very watchable match, but there are still a number of questions for the German coach to answer. There has been the occasional spark, but the team are looking anything like world champions as the malaise of late 2014 appears to be have been carried over past the winter break.
There’s one change for Germany, as TSG 1899 Hoffenheim’s Sebastian Rudy comes on for Badstuber.
47 mins. Karim Bellarabi has his run blocked at the edge of the penalty area, and Reus’s free-kick is brilliantly tipped over by Ryan. The corner is floated in, but Shkodran Mustafi‘s header is well wide of the target.
49 mins. It’s Australia’s turn to win a free-kick just outside the box, and Jedinak bends it over the over top of the wall with his right foot. Zieler is way too late, and despite getting a hand to the ball can do nothing as it crashes into the back of the net to give the visitors the lead. There’s a curious stillness in Kaiserslautern. 1-2.
53 mins. Troisi leaves Rudy for dead and creates space for himself, and his shot from some twenty yards out curls just wide of Zieler’s left post. At the other end Götze’s shot from distance is sent high over the crossbar.
57 mins. Götze finds the fast-advancing Bellarabi down the right, and rather than putting his head down and going for goal the Bayer 04 Leverkusen winger looks up and loses control control of the ball.
61 mins. Mustafi wins the ball in midfield and finds Bellarabi out on the right, whose cross-cum-shot skids harmlessly across the face of the Australian goal.
62 mins. Mesut Özil has had a quiet start to the second half, but here he finds Bellarabi whose crisp shot is on target but well parried by Ryan.
63 mins. Two changes for the Mannschaft. Just as he has started to come into the game Bellarabi is replaced by VfL Wolfsburg’s André Schürrle, while Khedira makes way for Borussia Mönchengladbach’s Christoph Kramer with Özil taking the captain’s armband.
64 mins. Zieler has an uncomfortable moment as he is is almost caught on the ball outside his area by Aussie substitute Tommy Oar but Hector quickly comes to his aid.
67 mins. The crowd are not liking this at all, and the World Champions are being shown up by a team that both in theory and on paper they should be beating with one hand tied behind their backs.
70 mins. Schürrle breaks down the left and gets behind the Australian defence, but his cross is cut back a little too far. As play shifts to the other end of the pitch, Oar’s ball towards the far post is met by Leckie who puts it wide. That should have been 3-1.
73 mins. There’s another double change for the home side, with Lukas Podolski and Max Kruse coming on for Reus and Götze.
75 mins. Hector wins a free kick just outside the Australian penalty area on the left, and Höwedes is unable to get a head on Özil’s well-delivered ball into the box.
76 mins. Australia have also made a number of changes, the latest of which is Oliver Bozinac who comes in for McKay.
81 mins. Endlich! Schürrle plays a lovely one-two with the impressive Hector, and the Wolfsburg man’s cutback across the six-yard box finds Podolski, who sweeps the ball into the net to level up the scores. It is Podolski’s 48th international goal, which takes him clear into third place on the all-time German goalscorers list ahead of Jürgen Klinsmann and Rudi Völler. 2-2.
Lukas Podolski celebrates Germany’s equaliser, his 48th goal in his 122nd appearance for the Nationalmannschaft
85 mins. A lovely cross-field ball finds Özil free inside the box on the left, and the Arsenal man finds Kruse with a nicely dinked pass. Kruse has enough time to take a touch before looking for the target, but his shot is woefully high.
90 mins. Rudy flats down the left and finds Podolski, who cuts inside to fashion a shooting chance. He’s not quite Arjen Robben though, and his shot from the edge of the box flies both high and wide and into the crowd.
90+2 mins. With what is probably the last chance of the match, Podolski tries to muscle past DeVere and send his shot across the opposition goal. It has been a very nice little cameo by the oldest man in the German team, one of the few positives in what has by and large been a disappointing evening.
90+3 mins. The whistle is blown for full-time.
Yet another disappointing show from Joachim Löw’s men, and although some will argue that it was essentially an experimental B-Team on show they should really be beating opponents largely made up of second and third division players. Overall however it was a decent game to watch, played in a good spirit by both sides. Australia played well and took the game to the Germans, and one cannot argue that the result was the right one, and one that the visitors deserved for an energetic performance.
The argument will continue to linger that Jogi Löw has to keep tweaking things to find the right formula as he looks to take the German team forward, and that friendlies are not a massive issue anyway. For years this argument has been accepted on account of the team upping their level in “proper” matches, but if the tail end of 2014 is anything to go by – pockmarked by the defeat in Poland and the dismal 1-1 draw in Gelsenkirchen against the Republic of Ireland – Georgia will be fancying their chances of causing an upset in Tbilisi in four days’ time.
The honest truth is that since that famous victory in Rio last July, the Nationalmannschaft have failed to meet expectations – even in games they should be caring about. If we choose to forget the meaningless friendlies, w are left with the scratchy 2-1 win over Scotland, that defeat in Poland and draw against Ireland, and then the insipid 4-0 win over minnows Gibraltar. As supporters we shouldn’t even be entertaining the thought of Georgia springing some sort of surprise, but it is hard not to.
v Australia, Fritz-Walter-Stadion, Kaiserslautern (Friendly International) 25.03.2015
Reus 17., Podolski 81. / Troisi 40., Jedinak 49.
Germany: Zieler – Mustafi, Höwedes, Badstuber (46. Rudy) – Khedira (c) (63. Kramer), Gündoğan – Bellarabi (63. Schürrle), Özil, Hector – Reus (73. Podolski), Götze (73. Kruse)
Australia: Ryan – Franjic, Wilkinson (77. Wright), DeVere, Davidson – Milligan (69. Mooy), Jedinak, McKay (77. Bozanic) – Burns (61. Oar), Leckie, Troisi (87. Juric)
Referee: Michael Oliver (England)
Assistants: Stuart Burt, Peter Kirkup (England)
Fourth Official: Christian Dingert (Germany)
Yellow Cards: – / –
Red Cards: – / –
Attempts on Target: 10 / 5
Attempts off Target: 5 / 3
Corners: 10 / 3
Fouls Committed: 10 / 11