Germany wrapped up their summer of friendlies with a 3-3 draw against Paraguay in Kaiserslautern. Poor defending put them behind early, but Lars Bender capped a deserved comeback.
Germany's friendly match at the Fritz Walter Stadium on Wednesday was seen as the warm up to their final round of World Cup qualification, which begins in September.
A big question surrounding the match was "would he break the record?" Striker Miroslav Klose was given the start by head coach Joachim Löw, with his 67 national team goals just one behind Gerd Müller's all-time record.
A number of Germany mainstays like Bastian Schweinsteiger, Toni Kroos and Mario Götze were missing from the squad, but the attacking trio of Marco Reus, Mesut Özil and Thomas Müller supporting Klose looked more than talented enough to handle the Paraguayan defense. Unfortunately for the Germans, it was their South American opponents who started strong.
Paraguay jump in front
Just under ten minutes in, Jose Ariel Nunez put the visitors up after a long ball from the halfway line beat Germany's high defense line. Nunez let the ball take a bounce in the box before firing a shot on the half-volley past Manuel Neuer.
Three minutes later, a failed clearance from Sami Khedira left the ball at the feet of Wilson Omar Pittoni. The midfielder's volley easily beat an out-of-position Neuer, and suddenly Germany were down two goals.
Ilkay Gündogan pulled one back in the 18th minute after keeper Justo Villar failed to deflect his low shot beyond goal. Unfortunately for the hosts, their goal scorer was forced to leave the match nine minutes later with what looked like a back injury, and Lars Bender took his place.
At the half hour mark, Thomas Müller beat Paraguay's offside trap to meet a long ball from Mats Hummels in the box to score the equalizer.
Things were finally starting to go right for Germany until Paraguay punished them for yet another defensive error moments before the break. With the ball on the edge of the box, ex-Bayern Munich striker Roque Santa Cruz sent a low ball across goal that found a completely unmarked Miguel Angel Samudio in front of the net. It was a simple finish, and Germany went into halftime trailing.
Improvement in the second half
In the second half, Germany came out a different team. The hosts controlled the match for the entire second period of play, but Bender was the only player who managed to score, finding the back of the net with a 75th minute effort.
The match finished 3-3, and although Germany had bright spots late on, poor defending was the story of the evening. Wednesday was Germany's final friendly of the summer after a win over Ecuador in May and a loss to the United States in June.
Germany's World Cup qualification campaign resumes September 6 at home to Austria in Munich, followed by a trip to the Faroe Islands four days later. Although they may have been in pre-season form against Paraguay, there can be no excuse for such a performance in their upcoming fixtures.
"We can't play that way against Austria" Neuer told broadcaster ZDF after the match. "It's important to analyze this [match] before the two qualifiers and learn something from it."
Klose, who looked hungry all night, exited the match in the 54th minute without a goal. He will have to wait until next month to break Müller's record.
The day featured a number of friendly matches around the world. Here are some of the results:
Japan 2-4 Uruguay
South Korea 0-0 Peru
South Africa 0-2 Nigeria
Belarus 1-1 Montenegro
Finland 2-0 Slovenia
Estonia 1-1 Latvia
Sweden 4-2 Norway
Colombia 1-0 Serbia
Turkey 2-2 Ghana
Ukraine 2-0 Israel
Romania 1-1 Slovakia
Hungary 1-1 Czech Republic
Austria 0-2 Greece
Italy 1-2 Argentina
Switzerland 1-0 Brazil
Bosnia & Herzegovina 3-4 United States
England 3-2 Scotland
Belgium 0-0 France
Wales 0-0 Republic of Ireland
Poland 3-2 Denmark