Germany have beaten Chile 1-0 in Stuttgart, in a game that the home side can count themselves fortunate to win. The South Americans, who might have easily had a draw, or more, just couldn't put the ball away.
Germany met Chile in their last friendly before coach Joachim Löw nominates a 28-player provisional World Cup squad, for what was very much touted in advance as a Bayern Munich show.
Even without the injured Thomas Müller, coach Joachim Löw was able to call on the skills of six Bayern players for the game, just under 100 days ahead of the opening of this year’s World Cup in Brazil.
An overall lackluster Germany were caught by surprise from the very beginning, left blinking as Chile stole possession with alarming regularity to test the home side’s last lines of defense.
Manuel Neuer found himself with no shortage of work to do, but it was Philipp Lahm, on the line, who saved Germany’s blushes in the ninth minute - stopping an on-target header from Arturo Vidal.
Germany found it hard to halt the Chilean advance, with Löw bemoaning his side's frequent loss of possession
So, there was a collective sigh of relief for the home fans at Stuttgart’s Mercedes Benz Arena when Bayern Munich’s Mario Götze stroked home the ball high on 16 minutes, thanks to an assist from Mesut Özil. Chilean stand-in keeper Johnny Herrera was well beaten.
Jansen bows out early
Having been handed a surprise start, there was disappointment for Hamburg’s Marcell Jansen, who had to come off after 24 minutes with an ankle injury, to be replaced by Borussia Dortmund’s Marcel Schmelzer. Similarly, Hamburg forward Pierre-Michel Lasogga was injured in training before the game - meaning the relegation candidates may have to tackle Frankfurt on Saturday without both key players.
Despite the lead, Germany struggled to really settle down, with Chile appearing to have the better and more frequent chances. The best of those was a decidedly fluffed effort - former Leverkusen star Vidal found himself free in space before Neuer on 26 minutes, but his labored shot was simply not hard enough.
Germany could have gone two up on 34 minutes as Özil pushed the ball into the danger area for his Arsenal colleague Per Mertesacker to set up Götze, whose effort sailed by.
Just ahead of the break Charles Aranguiz missed the mark for Chile, under pressure from Kevin Grosskreutz. While Chile might have been happy with the performance, they would have found the scoreline unflattering.
Exposed on the wings
As the second half went on, Chile kept up the threat - with a gesticulating Löw increasingly unable to hide his frustration.
Germany enjoyed one of their luckiest escapes on 60 minutes as Barcelona’s Alexis Sanchez cut back to Vargas - who hit the crossbar with Neuer helpless.
Chile exploited the wings mercilessly, Sanchez in particular finding enough gaps to force a succession of desperate clearances - but no goals.
While Germany emerged winners, it was a different story statistically. Chile had 17 shots on goal compared with Germany’s seven and 14 corners compared to Germany’s four.
"We have seen how well Chile can play," said Löw, for whom the game was a final chance to experiment before naming his provisional World Cup squad on May 8. "We had to put in a crazy amount of effort to get into the game," he said. "It was incredibly difficult."
Of the four players Löw nominated for the very first time, only Freiburg's 20-year-old Matthias Ginter took to the pitch as a late substitute for Özil. Germany's next game, against Poland, comes on May 13 in Hamburg.