Germany have broken their jinx against France, winning a friendly match in Paris 2-1 on a historic night. The French have long been a tough nut to crack for the German national side.
There was history in the air in the pre-match build-up as both the French and German football associations acknowledged 50 years of post-war reconciliation through the Elysee Treaty. For Germany, it was also a chance to beat France for the first time in 26 years.
Although France were easily enjoying their fair share of the possession in the first half, Germany looked better for chances.
There was an early opportunity on just three minutes as Thomas Müller stopped a through-ball from Sami Khedira, to roll it wide of the post. Just a few minutes later, Mesut Özil somehow latched onto a ball from Müller only for it to escape him, bouncing off keeper Hugo Lloris.
Per Mertesacker was also among the contenders when, up for a corner on 21 minutes, he headed the ball on target for Lloris to push onto and over the crossbar.
With most of Germany's attacking coming down the right, the creativity started to fade from their game ahead of the break. Then, France began to put Germany under pressure.
It paid off for the hosts when a Karim Benzema free kick rattled the crossbar and bounced out, only to be headed back into the mix by Moussa Sissoko. Mathieu Valbuena was there to nod it in - and put France ahead - just before the half-time whistle. Rene Adler, returning to the German net after two years away, could only watch and meekly appeal for offside.
The second half saw France begin forgetting the adage that attack is often the best form of defense. Standing off the ball a little, making the odd foray forward only when the ball somehow found its way to them, was possibly not the correct strategy.
Germany strike back
The mistake became apparent when, on the break, Ilkay Gündogan won possession and then slipped the ball across for Müller to control and lift over Lloris. France, at first seemingly dazed, gradually regained their composure. Both Benzema and Ribery threatened to unlock the German defense and almost succeeded.
Soon though, it was "Les Bleus" who were found wanting as Germany countered, an ice-cool pass into the box from Mesut Özil finding Real Madrid teammate Khedira to finish with aplomb. Suddenly the hosts found themselves behind.
France continued to threaten, with Benzema, the impressive Ribery and Olivier Giroud all trying their luck in some particularly fraught seconds towards the end of the game. In the end though, Germany held on to make it a historic win - their first on French soil since 1935.
Germany coach Joachim Löw drew comparison with Germany’s last international game, a goalless draw against the Netherlands in November.
"It was our first big test of 2013, we played with a lot of rhythm," said Löw. "It was fast-paced game with a lot of good action up front. There were a lot of things that we did very well which last time, against the Netherlands, we couldn’t manage to do."
Among the roughly 75,000 spectators at Paris's Stade de France were Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande.
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