Germany’s planning for this summer’s World Cup finals in Russia began with a tough but entertaining home draw with European rivals Spain, a game that extended their unbeaten record to 22 matches going back to the summer of 2016. It was a result that suited both teams, and after a sluggish first half the Mannschaft picked up the pace in the second.
Spain were quick off the mark and set a good tempo in Düsseldorf, and it was no great surprise when they took an early lead. The visitors could have gone into the half-time break with an even bigger advantage as the German defence looked a little shaky under pressure, but spurned Spanish opportunities and a fine long-distance finish from Thomas Müller levelled things up.
The second half saw no further goals, but there were decent opportunties for both teams and good saves from both goalkeepers. After that came the inevitable raft of personnel changes, as the match started to wind down. Overall, there was plenty for Nationaltrainer Jogi Löw to take into the next prestige friendly against Brazil.
Facts and Stats
Germany came into the match on the back of a 21-match unbeaten run, while Julen Lopategui’s Spanish side had gone 15 matches without defeat. The last match between the two countries had seen the Mannschaft snatch a 1-0 win in Vigo in 2014, with Toni Kroos scoring an 89th minute winner. This had ended a run of three straight defeats at the hands of the Iberians, which included 1-0 reverses in the final at Euro 2008 and the semi-final of the 2010 World Cup.
In spite of their better more recent head to head record, Spain were up against the record books. La Furia Roja had not won on German soil for over eighty years, with their first and last victory coming in Köln in May 1935. On that day, the Spaniards had overcome an 11th minute goal from Edmund Conen to register a 2-1 win.
The last meeting in Germany was in August 2000, when the Mannschaft stormed to a thumping 4-1 win in what was Rudi Völler’s first match as Nationaltrainer. Mehmet Scholl and Alexander Zickler netted braces to take the Germans into a four goal lead, before Raúl netted a consolation goal for Spain.
With his 35th minute equaliser, Thomas Müller finally moved above Oliver Bierhoff in the all-time German goalscorers list. It had been three days short of a year since his last international goal, against Azerbaijan in the World Cup quaifier in Baku.
In winning his 90th international cap, Müller moved level with Rudi Völler on the all-time appearances list, while Mesut Özil also moved closer to the century mark with his 89th appearance in the Nationaltrikot. Not far behind is Toni Kroos, who drew level with Bernd Schneider, Wolfgang Overath and Karl-Heinz Förster on 81 caps.
Germany started the match brightly, but it was Spain that were far more dangerous early on. The visitors only needed six minutes to get on the scoreboard, when midfield magician Andrés Iniesta pierced the German defensive line with a sublime ball that was matched by Rodrigo Moreno’s emphatic finish. It was a great goal, but a dawdling Mats Hummels made things far too easy for the Spanish striker.
Spain quickly found their rhythm in the middle of the pitch, frustrating the Germans with their quick passing and threatening movement. There were some good moments for the home side, but their finishing was found wanting. Skipper Sami Khedira was struggling to keep up with the pace of the opposition, Özil found it hard to make an impression, and Julian Draxler struggled to get into the game. Up front, striker Timo Werner showed plenty of pace and energy but was far from his usual lethal self in front of goal.
When the equaliser came, it was out of the blue in more ways than one. When one move did come together, Müller found the space and time to execute a finish that was far from his usual style. Der Raumdeuter’s sublime right-footed effort gave Spanish ‘keeper David de Gea no chance, and was the highlight of the evening.
The second half saw the coach make a number of changes, and there was a lot more spark. Draxler improved markedly, and could have given the home side the lead were it not for an excellent save from de Gea. The Spanish ‘keeper also did well to keep out İlkay Gündoğan, who added something to the mix after replacing the tired Khedira.
There were opportunities. Werner was unable to find his scoring boots before being replaced by Mario Gómez, and Hummels could also have done better as he saw a looping header ping off the top of the crossbar. Spain also had their chances, but the German defence was able to do enough to stave off the danger. When they were caught out, ‘keeper Marc-André ter Stegen did all he needed to do.
The move to Barcelona has done ter Stegen a world of good, and he looks a completely different proposition from his early days as a butter-fingered fumbler in the German goal. With Manuel Neuer still to come back after a long injury layoff, ter Stegen looks to have nailed down his position ahead of rivals Bernd Leno and Kevin Trapp.
Conclusions and Ratings
In all, this was an exciting match to watch. Both coaches brought their biggest stars, and despite it being a friendly both teams showed plenty of commitment. The game was played in a good spirit, but with plenty of competitive bite and real purpose – as opposed to playing some cannon fodder and not actually learning anything.
While there will be a lot more pressure in June, a good workout against a quality top tier opponent is as good as friendly preparation can get.
Marc-André ter Stegen
A confident and assured show from the German ‘keeper. Did what he had to do well, and bailed the team out in the second half with an excellent block to deny Isco from point blank range.
Not the best evening for the FC Bayern youngster, who was occasionally caught out of position. Was not massively effective going forward, with his distribution less efficent than usual.
On what was not great evening for the back four, Boateng was the standout. Solid and controlled, he was able to impose himself when needed against more nimble opponents. Did well to execute a good block late on to deny Spanish substitute Diego Costa. Ended the evening with the captain’s armband.
Not the best display from Hummels, who appeared to have left his brain in the dressing room. Was caught completely flat footed for Spain’s goal, and was off the pace for most of the evening. Was slightly better going forward, but missed a headed chance that he really should have buried.
Returning to the international fold after a long injury layoff, the 1. FC Köln left-back struggled to get to his usual level. Was dutiful enough at the back, but lacked sharpness going forward.
The German skipper was disappointing, and always seemed to be a yard behind his opponents. Was replaced early in the second half by İlkay Gündoğan after taking a knock.
A pedestrian performance by his usual standards, Kroos was unable to exercise the control that he likes in midfield engine room. Was still able to show off his subtle skills, and almost created a winner for Mats Hummels with a delightfully dinked free-kick move.
Müller was quieter than usual and struggled to impose himself, but provided the highlight of the match with a sublime shot from 25 yards. Der Raumdeuter remains one of Germany’s most dangerous players, and his goal showed why he will be one to watch during this summer’s World Cup. Made way for Leon Goretzka with nine minutes left.
Quiet and subdued, and at times anonymous. Found it hard to really get involved, and his game was summed up by a weak shot straight at Spanish ‘keeper David de Gea.
Was guilty of trying too hard in the first half, where nothing seemed to come off. Stepped up his game after the break however, and could very easily have given his team the lead with a lovely shot that was turned behind by de Gea. Was replaced by Leroy Sané after 68 minutes.
Speedy and energetic, Werner certainly gave the Spanish defenders a decent workout. Sadly, he was not up to his usual standard in front of goal where he was guilty of fluffing at least a couple of decent opportunities. This was clearly just a one-off though, and most German fans will swap an off day against Spain in a friendly for a sharp hat-trick in a World Cup semi-final. Was replaced by Mario Gómez with six minutes remaining.
Replaced Khedira eight minutes into the second half, and certainly added a certain something in the the middle of the park. Played his part going forward, and had one good shot on target that was turned behind by de Gea.
The former Schalke 04 winger has been in a great form for Manchester City season, but once again it was a case of smoke and mirrors in the Nationaltrikot. Sané was willing to take on opponents, but unable to make any real impression or create any decent opportunities.
Replaced Müller, and was unable to get into the game as it wound down to its quiet conclusion.
Came on for Werner for the last six minutes, and was able to get one small sniff at goal.
ter Stegen (3), Kimmich (4), Boateng (3), Hummels (3), Hector (3), Khedira (4), Kroos (3), Müller (2), Özil (2), Draxler (2), Werner (3). Subs (Until 60 minutes): Gündoğan (3).
ter Stegen (2), Kimmich (4), Boateng (3), Hummels (4), Hector (4), Khedira (5), Kroos (3), Müller (2.5), Özil (4), Draxler (3), Werner (2.5). Subs (Until 60 minutes): Gündoğan (3).
ter Stegen (2.5), Kimmich (3), Boateng (3), Hummels (3.5), Hector (4), Khedira (4), Kroos (3.5), Müller (2), Özil (3), Draxler (3), Werner (2). Subs (Until 60 minutes): Gündoğan (3).
Bild player ratings remain behind a paywall, and Sport-Bild did not appear to have any number. Fourth choice TZ was used for the third ratings overview, but they are more than a little generous given the average overall performance.