So, after last month’s rather painful 3-3 draw against Paraguay in Kaiserslautern, it’s back to the serious stuff with the first match of the World Cup double header against Austria at Munich’s Allianz Arena. Nationaltrainer Joachim Löw will be looking to maintain his team’s excellent record against their southern neighbours, and secure the three points that will bring Brazil 2014 that little bit closer.
It is the Nationalmannschaft’s thirty-ninth match against the Ösis since 1908, with their record standing at twenty-four wins, six draws and eight defeats – the last of those reverses coming in a Vienna friendly in 1986. Competitively, you’d have to go back to the World Cup in 1978 to find Germany’s last defeat against Austria, and since that infamous 3-2 loss in Córdoba they have won eight of the last nine serious encounters, the sole blip being a goalless draw in Vienna in a European Championship qualifier in 1983.
The last meeting between the two sides in September 2012 would see a close 2-1 win for the Germans in the Austrian capital, while the last encounter on German soil in September 2011 would see the Jogi Löw’s side storm to a convincing 6-2 win.
For the Mannschaft, this is a match of personal milestones and team missions. Skipper Philipp Lahm is winning his hundredth international cap – the eighth man to do so in the Schwarz und Weiß – while the in-form Miroslav Klose has another chance to equal and perhaps break Gerd Müller’s thirty-nine year old goalscoring record, while the team are looking not only to secure the three points but also keep a clean sheet. Since the last shut-out in Kazakhstan in March, Germany have conceded a worrying nine goals in their last four games.
It’s a dry evening in the Bavarian capital, the stands are decked out in white and black, and the two teams make their way out on to the field. Former team captain Michael Ballack is also out on the pitch to join centurion Lahm for the pre-match presentation, and there is great respect shown by the home crowd for the Austrian national anthem. The atmosphere is electric, the crowd expectant.
Germany are at full strength apart from in the defensive midfield, where Toni Kroos joins Sami Khedira in the absence of the injured Bastian Schweinsteiger and İlkay Gündoğan, and in the middle of the defence the coach plumps for a pairing of Jérôme Boateng and Per Mertesacker, with Mats Hummels being left on the bench. Once again there’s the perfect television coverage, with the entertainment provided by the new BT Sport channel – with commentary being provided by Derek Rae and former FC Bayern München midfielder Owen Hargreaves.
1 min. Serbian referee Milorad Mažić gets things under way, and the home side kick off.
2 mins. Lahm is clipped in his own half and Germany win a free-kick.
3 mins. Austrian stiker Andreas Weimann is flagged for offside, as Manuel Neuer clears well with his head.
4 mins. Austria win a free-kick out on the left which is swung in by Christian Fuchs, and centre-back Emanuel Pogatetz sends his header over the crossbar.
5 mins. Germany get their first sight of the Austrian goal, and Kroos finds space to take a shot from outside the area that flies over the target.
6 mins. The Mannschaft are starting to build up a little pressure, and are keeping the ball nicely.
9 mins. Some nice passes from Jogi Löw’s side, but it’s a case of one pass too many and the ball ends up with Austrian ‘keeper Robert Almer.
10 mins. Another nice move from the home side, and Marco Reus plays the ball inside to Khedira who bends the ball from the edge of the box just past the far post. Just moments later Fuchs loses the ball and Klose is free down the right, but with no support takes a shot that hits the side netting.
13 mins. Khedira tries to lift the ball over the Austrian defence, and Thomas Müller is caught marginally offside. There are a few whistles from the crowd.
15 mins. The first quarter of an hour has passed without any real incident, with neither side showing any real penetration. Germany have looked the better side, but haven’t yet threatened Almer’s goal.
18 mins. Reus is brought down around thirty-five yards from the opposition goal, and his curling free-kick is on target but easily collected by Almer.
22 mins. There’s some minor panic at the back for Germany, as Boateng is unable to intercept a long Austrian ball into the penalty area and Marcel Schmelzer’s head is just about strong enough to reach Neuer. Austria are temporarily down to ten men as defensive midfielder Veli Kavlak is treated for a bloody nose on the touchline.
23 mins. Klose and Müller work well down the right, and Müller’s ball across the Austrian penalty area is collected by Mesut Özil who turns before shooting just wide of the left upright.
26 mins. Fuchs sends in a low cross in from the left which is collected by Neuer.
27 mins. Mertesacker is allover Andreas Ivanschitz, and is giving a ticking off by the Serbian referee.
28 mins. A great chance for Germany as Reus is put through by Özil, but is shot is blocked by Almer. The ball finds its way to Klose, who just can get enough power on his header. The ball loops towards the Austrian goal, but Almer recovers well to fist it off the line and back over the bar. So close to equalling the record. Özil’s corner is easily cleared by the red-shirted defence.
30 mins. There’s more nice play from the Germans now, but they really do need a goal to make all of the dominance count.
33 mins. Another fast German attack down the right flank initiated by Reus, and Müller sends in a low cross that skids across the penalty area. There to meet it at the near post is Klose, who slides in to beat defender Aleksandar Dragovic with Almer left helpless. The ball is in the back of the net, Germany have the lead, and Gerd Müller’s record has finally been equalled. 1-0.
35 mins. The Mannschaft are on a roll now, and sweep forward again. Klose’s cross cum shot is palmed away by Almer.
37 mins. Weimann is shown the yellow card for a clumsy challenge on Lahm and complaining too loudly.
38 mins. There’s panic in the Austrian box, and Almer desperately hacks the ball away for a corner. Reus swings it in, but it is too close to the Austrian ‘keeper who collects.
40 mins. Müller’s pass finds Reus at the edge of the box out on the left, but the usually sharp Dortmund winger’s poor first touch lets him down. Austria counter, and David Alaba has a speculative shot from distance that is easily collected by his FC Bayern München team mate Neuer.
43 mins. The ball skids across the Austrian box and Pogatetz sets himself to clear, but Reus’ late challenge results in a yellow card.
45 mins. Schmelzer gets an accidental elbow on the head from Martin Harnik, and after the German physio pulls up centurion Lahm shows just how versatile he is by carrying the medical kit to the far touchline. Schmelzer looks a little groggy.
45+1 mins. here’s a little Austrian pressure as the first half draws to a close. Dragovic has a decent hit from outside the German penalty area, but Neuer does well to collect.
45+2 mins. The whistle is blown for half time.
Overall, it has been a strong first half for Jogi Löw’s side and a deserved lead, though it could and have conceivably have been more. Austria have been completely dominated in midfield and have posed little threat, while Almer has had a busy forty-five minutes. The Mannschaft just need to polish things up a little to see this match through to a comfortable conclusion.
46 mins. Schmelzer is not fit to start the second half, and is replaced by Benedikt Höwedes who finds his place in the unfamiliar position of left-back. The visitors get things going. The classy Alaba quickly plays a neat ball to Weimann, who fires an angled shot high over the German crossbar.
48 mins. It’s a promising start from Marcel Koller’s side, as Harnik nutmegs Höwedes to set up Kavlak who shoots wide of the target.
50 mins. Germany are suddenly looking a little wobbly at the back, and the out of position Höwedes is looking distinctly incomfortable.
51 mins. Lahm’s ball into the Austrian box is only half-cleared, and Reus rolls in inside to Kroos, who has plenty of time and space to lash in a lovely right-footed shot that curls past Almer and into the right side of the Austrian net from twenty-five yards. 2-0.
53 mins. It’s almost three as Müller suddenly appears in the box to slide in an force Almer into another decent save after Reus plays a sublime backheel.
54 mins. Özil sends in a free-kick from the right that floats towards the far post, and Müller is in there again, almost pulling off a miracle finish with the outside of his right boot from the tightest of angles.
56 mins. It’s all Germany now. Almer is all at sea in keeping out another long-distance effort from Kroos, and from the resulting corner Klose heads over the bar.
57 mins. Höwedes is again out of position and Kavlak gets a shot in which goes well wide of the German goal.
59 mins. Kavlak and Khedira go up for the ball and the German’s arm brushes the Austrian, who once again has to run off the pitch with a bloody nose. It’s a really soft challenge, but Khedira is shown the yellow card by the fussy man in black.
61 mins. A promising Austrian move is well broken up by Mertesacker.
64 mins. Germany are keeping the ball well in midfield, and are looking to pass the Austrians to death at the moment. Klose tries to find Özil with a sharp pass through the middle and into the Austrian box, but its just a little too strong for the playmaker.
67 mins. Austria make two changes as Marcel Sabitzer and Guido Burgstaller come on for the disappointing Marko Arnautovic and Ivanschitz, and the patched up Kavlak comes back on to the pitch.
68 mins. Reus makes a fast break down the right, but his attempted cross is mishit and flies into the stands.
69 mins. Substitute Sabitzer collects a neat chip from Alaba and his shot is deflected for a corner. The ball is floated in dangerously, and Neuer is on hand to keep the scoreboard clear as he denies the dangerous Harnik.
72 mins. Özil finds Müller down the right, and the gangly winger’s drilled low shot is well parried by Almer.
75 mins. Harnik is caught well offside.
77 mins. What seems like a million passes accompanied by a few whistles from the home crowd is followed by Klose putting the ball into the back of the Austrian net, but he is flagged for offside. György Garics is replaced by Florian Klein as Austria make their final change.
80 mins. Kavlak is booked for a poor challenge on Kroos.
81 mins. It’s two booking in a two minutes for the visitors now, as Pogatetz is punished for bundling into Klose. The German striker also gets carded following a gentle verbal exchange with Kavlak.
82 mins. The record-breaking striker’s evening comes to an end, as he is replaced by Lars Bender.
83 mins. The referee is going card crazy now, with Klein getting his name into the notebook for a silly shove on Reus.
86 mins. Khedira makes a charging run into the Austrian half and is fouled by Fuchs. The free-kick leads to an elaborate buildup that goes nowhere.
89 mins. Kroos finds Höwedes down the left who send in a low cross into the danger zone, and there to meet it is der Raumdeuter Thomas Müller, who bundles the ball into the back of the net with his typically awkward sense of style. 3-0.
90+1 mins. Julian Draxler gets a couple of minutes of play as he comes on for Reus.
90+2 mins. Kroos gets in a final shot that skids just wide of the target. The whistle is blown for full time, and with a functionally straightforward yet pleasing victory the Nationalmannschaft have secured an easy three points to keep their qualifying campaign well on track.
So, this match has proved be a straightforward as many had predicted – perhaps too straightforward. While the overall performance might have been a little flat at times, all of the milestones and missions have been met: Lahm would have a successful 100th international appearance and Klose would finally score that record-equalling goal, while the team picks up the vital three points and manages to go through the ninety minutes without conceding a goal.
Brazil 2014 is now that little bit closer, and the team management will be looking to start making their hotel reservations after next week’s match in the Faroe Islands.
v Austria, Allianz Arena, München, 06.09.2013
Klose 33., Kroos 51., Müller 88. / –
Germany: Neuer – Lahm (c), Mertesacker, Boateng, Schmelzer (46. Höwedes) – Khedira, Kroos – T. Müller, Özil, Reus (90.+1. Draxler) – Klose (82 L. Bender)
Austria: Almer – Garics (78.Klein), Dragovic, Pogatetz, Fuchs (c) – Kavlak, Alaba – Harnik, Ivanschitz (67. Burgstaller), Arnautovic (67. Sabitzer) – Weimann
Referee: Milorad Mažić (Serbia)
Assistants: Milovan Ristić, Dalibor Đurđević (Serbia)
Fourth Official: Milenko Vukadinović (Serbia)
Yellow Cards: Reus 44., Khedira 59., Klose 81. / Weimann 37., Kavlak 80., Pogatetz 81., Klein 83.
Red Cards: – / –
Attempts on Target: 9 / 2
Attempts off Target: 5 / 6
Corners: 7 / 2
Fouls Committed: 7 / 18