There are no surprises from German Nationaltrainer Joachim Löw this time, as the team is pretty much as we all expected. The fit-again Marcel Schmelzer is in at left back with Holger Badstuber moving back inside and Per Mertesacker on the bench, while Friday’s other absentee Toni Kroos joins Sami Khedira in a two-man defensive midfield unit with Mario Götze missing out. Back to the tried and tested 4-2-3-1.
It is a pleasant evening in Vienna, and the teams enter the field in front of forty-seven thousand people in a noisy Ernst-Happel-Stadion. It is a sea of red and white, and the home crowd are clearly up for what promises to be a decent contest between these two neighbours and once-great football rivals. The Nationalmannschaft are in their traditional Schwarz und Weiß, with the Austrians – who once sported the same home colours as the Germans – are in their now familiar red/white/red.
Fact of the day: There are no home-based players in the Austrian starting eleven. Nine of them play in the German Bundesliga, as opposed to eight from the German team. I have managed to find a decent feed: Al Jazeera, with commentary in English. A bit scratchy with the occasional irritating popup advert, but it doesn’t go down. I have no idea why ESPN aren’t screening this one.
1 min. Dutch referee Björn Kuipers gets things underway. The stadium is a cauldron of noise, and the visitors get their own unique Austrian reception that doesn’t include Schnitzel or Sachertorte.
4 mins. Marcel Koller’s side start brightly, and VfB Stuttgart striker Martin Harnik is almost put through by Julian Baumgartlinger. Badstuber does enough to put him off and the ball is spooned over the bar.
5 mins. A nervous miskick from Austrian ‘keeper Robert Almer as he puts the ball behind, but the resulting German corner is woefully overhit.
7 mins. Werder Bremen’s Sebastian Prödl sends a pass back to Fortuna Düsseldorf’s Almer, who slides out to clear.
10 mins. From nowhere Germany has a chance. Thomas Müller is clear with only Almer to beat but strokes the ball straight at the Austrian ‘keeper.
12 mins. Mesut Özil is unable to collect a good through ball at one end, but the red-shirted Austrians break the other as a pass from FSV Mainz 05’s Andreas Ivanschitz beats the offside trap. Harnik shoots but the ball skids narrowly wide of Manuel Neuer’s right post.
14 mins. Austria are looking dangerous with the long ball over the top of the German defence, but at the moment the men in white are holding the line.
15 mins. Ivanschitz has a shot from distance. This is a more than decent start from the home side, and they are having a go at almost everything at the moment.
16 mins. Müller wins the ball well out on the right and send a pass inside to Kroos, whose low shot from outside the box is well wide of the target.
17 mins. Germany are being hassled in midfield and are being given no time on the ball, and Austria win possession again with yet another sharp challenge. Bremen’s Zlatko Junuzović has a sight of goal, but sends his shot wide.
18 mins. It’s one snappy tackle too far as Prödl is shown the yellow card for a challenge on Miroslav Klose, who is making his 124th international appearance this evening. The free-kick is curled in beautifully by Özil for Müller, whose header is on target and well saved by Almer who turns it ’round for a corner.
19 mins. Reus’ corner is well aimed into the Austrian box, but Almer confidently collects.
21 mins. Some good buildup play from the Germans, and Kroos has a shot from the edge of the box that is well gathered by Almer.
23 mins. The Mannschaft are now starting to get a foothold in the game, and are starting to string together some good passing moves.
24 mins. Austria venture forward again, but the watchful Neuer comes out to clear. Moments later there is a slight panic in the German box, but Mats Hummels hoofs the ball away.
25 mins. Marco Reus gives the ball away in his own half, and Neuer once again is called into action. After what was clearly a little breather, the Austrians are snapping at German heels again.
27 mins. Harnik stumbles over in the penalty area as Badstuber challenges, but the Dutch referee waves play on.
29 mins. Özil tries to send Klose through, but the striker is flagged offside.
30 mins. Kroos lines up a shot from distance that crashes against a defender, and the ball breaks for the fast-moving Harnik who outpaces Badstuber before sending a shot wide of the target.
31 mins. The play switches to the other end as Reus shows show great skill on the ball, but having beaten two men is unable to wriggle past the third.
32 mins. Reus is almost put through by Özil, but Almer is quick off his mark to sprint out and collect the ball safely.
34 mins. Ivanschitz plays a clever header into the German box towards Harnik, but Hummels is able to position himself nicely to clear. The Austrians continue to press and win a corner, and Baumgartlinger sends a shot wide of the target. There’s then a bizarre moment as a Neuer clearance bounces off Junuzović and off for a goal kick.
38 mins. The Austrians are chasing every ball and contesting every fifty-fifty chance, but the Germans are giving the ball away far too cheaply and way too often. First Badstuber and then skipper Philipp Lahm within the space of a minute.
41 mins. Now even Özil gives the ball away. The home side flood forward and Ivanschitz gets a look at the German goal, but sends his shot high and wide under pressure from Badstuber.
43 mins. It has been an excellent performance so far from Das Team. Fast breaks, committed challenges, and a tight and well organised defensive line.
44 mins. Out of nowhere, the Mannschaft have opened the scoring! Austria are caught flat-footed by a neat German move, as Reus is put through on the left by Özil. The young winger weaves inside, beats VfL Wolfburg defender Emanuel Pogatetz and unleashes a delicate shot with his right foot. The ‘keeper gets a hand on the ball but is unable to prevent it from skidding inside his right post. 1-0.
45 mins. The referee signals the end of what has been a hectic and exciting first half.
The Mannschaft are going into the break a goal up, but can consider themselves lucky following what has been a brave and committed performance from the home side. It is Marco Reus’ third goal in the Nationaltrikot, and having finally been given a decent run in the team he is starting to show how valauable an asset he is.
There’s a change for Joachim Löw’s side, as Mario Götze is on for goalscorer Reus. Unless Reus has taken a knock, this is a slightly strange tactical decision by the Nationaltrainer. It is later confirmed that Reus is indeed injured.
49 mins. Germany have made a decent start to the second half, nd the pace appears to be a little less frenetic. Just as I say that, the Austrians break down the left and Junuzović runs into Badstuber’s leg before taking a spectacularly awful dive.
50 mins. The play breaks to the other end of the pitch, and there are a number of white shirts buzzing around the Austrian box. Thomas Müller is then bundled over in the box by defensive midfielder Veli Kavlak, and the referee points to the penalty spot. Müller wasn’t even on the ball, and it’s a good spot by the Dutch official.
52 mins. Özil steps up to take the Elfmeter, and sends it low to the right. Almer does well to dive the right way, but the kick is too good and the Mannschaft have doubled their lead. 2-0.
55 mins. Götze has the ball in the back of the Austrian net but his correctly flagged for offside. Austria make a change as Guido Burgstaller is on for Harnik. The Rapid Wien man is the first home-based Austrian player to step onto the pitch.
56 mins. Left-back Marcel Schmelzer allows himself to be bullied into giving the ball away in a dangerous position, but the Austrians are unable to profit from the error.
57 mins. They had looked out for the count, but suddenly the Austrians are back in it. The third of Austria’s Werder Bremen contingent, Marko Arnautović, bustles past Götze and the static Schmelzer and makes his way to the byline before expertly cutting the ball back for the sliding Junuzović who bundles it in past Neuer. 2-1.
59 mins. Germany are on the attack again, and Almer keeps the ball out before Müller sends a shot high over the bar.
60 mins. Austria receive their second yellow card as skipper Christian Fuchs is penalised for a foul on Müller. The Schalke 04 defender is leading by example, and the reenergised home side are snapping at German heels again.
61 mins. Müller wins a corner on the right, but Özil’s delivery is woefully short.
66 mins. Galvanised by their goal and the passionate home crowd, the Austrians have gained a second wind. Arnautović is causing havoc down the German left flank and exploiting the defensive weakness that is Marcel Schmelzer, but is unable to find a teammate in the German box.
69 mins. Germany are now playing with fire at the edge of their own penalty area, but are saved by the referee who blows for a foul.
71 mins. Lahm is booked for taking the ball from Junuzović, who flings himself to the floor with a flourish. The referee is successfully hoodwinked, and German skipper is booked. It’s two bookings now for Lahm, and he is out of next month’s match in Dublin.
72 mins. A dreadful backpass from Lahm almost puts Bergstoller through, but the ball has just enough strength on it to get reach Neuer. It has been a bad couple of minutes for the German captain.
75 mins. Lukas Podolski is on for the disappointing Klose, who has not had a decent sniff of goal. Austria have also made a change, as Jakob Jantscher is on for Ivanschitz. That takes the number of Austrian Bundesliga players to two.
78 mins. Jogi Löw is bellowing like a madman on the touchline. I don’t blame him, as his team have looked pretty dire since the Austrian goal.
79 mins. Austria win a free-kick out on the right as Junuzović takes another tumble. This guy is good.
80 mins. Germany attempt to move forward as an Austrian move breaks down, and Götze is taken out slightly late by Baumgartlinger who recieves a yellow card.
84 mins. It’s maximum pressure now from the Ösis. The Germans are being pressured into giving the ball away and are finding it difficult to get out of their own half.
85 mins. Arnautović once again breaks down the right and gets behind the defensive line, but as before can only find a white shirt. The ball is being sent into the German box with regularity now, but while things are looking shaky all around him the titan that is Manuel Neuer is a beacon of solidity and calm. Koller makes his third and final substitution as Baumgartlinger makes way for Trabzonspor striker Marc Janko. It’s a bold move by the Austrian coach as he seeks the equalising goal.
87 mins. And they almost get it. A swift break down the left this time by the home side, and Janko sends a deliciously perfect low ball into the German box and in front of Neuer. The German ‘keeper is helpless as Arnautović charges in looks all set to place the ball into the net, but is relieved the see it fly wide of the target. That should have been 2-2, and the ball seemed to take a slight bobble just as the Austrian number seven was about to pull the trigger.
90 mins. Özil finds some space on the left but his attempt to dance his way towards goal is foiled by one of those ubiquitous red shirts.
90+2 mins. Badstuber is penalised for a clumsy challenge. Fuchs’ free-kick is floated into the German box but Pogatetz is unable to get on the end of it.
90+3 mins. Germany are trying to play keep ball, but even then are succeeding in giving tit away. The Austrians break again, and Burgstaller is narrowly offside.
90+4 mins. The final whistle is blown. Austria can consider themselves mightily unlucky not to have taken anything out of this game, and Jogi Löw’s side have once again done enough to take all three points. Some might call this a Dusel-Sieg. Another closely-fought 2-1 victory that very easily have ended in a draw or worse, and it’s just like 2011 all over again. Déja-vu. A footballing version of the film Groundhog Day.
The home side were busy, brave, and went after every fifty-fifty challenge. The Germans just allowed this to get to them, and were in the end giving away the ball for fun and hanging on for their dear lives. They will almost certainly need to step up a couple of gears for the next matches against the Republic of Ireland and Sweden.
Further match report and player ratings tomorrow… As for now, it’s goodnight Vienna.
v Austria, Ernst-Happel-Stadion, Wien, 11.09.2012
Reus 44., Özil pen 52. / Januzović 57.
Germany: Neuer – Lahm (c), Hummels, Badstuber, Schmelzer – Khedira, Kroos – Müller, Özil, Reus (46. Götze) – Klose (75. Podolski)
Austria: Almer – Garics, Prödl, Pogatetz, Fuchs (c) – Baumgartlinger (85. Janko), Kavlak – Arnautović, Januzović, Ivanschitz (75. Jantscher) – Harnik (55. Burgstaller)
Referee: Björn Kuipers (Netherlands)
Assistants: Sander van Roekel, Erwin Zeinstra (Netherlands)
Fourth Official: Richard Liesveld (Netherlands)
Yellow Cards: Lahm 71. / Prödl 18., Fuchs 60., Baumgartlinger 81.
Red Cards: – / –
Attempts on Target: 5 / 4
Attempts off Target: 4 / 11
Corners: 3 / 3
Fouls Committed: 11 / 14