France bring Germany back to Earth with 2-1 win | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 02.03.2012
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France bring Germany back to Earth with 2-1 win

Germany went down to France 2-1 in their last football run-out ahead of the 2012 European Championships. Germany's new-look green jerseys were probably the freshest aspect of their display in Bremen.

The old adage that there's no such thing as a "friendly" international football match didn't quite apply to this encounter. The game lacked intensity, particularly in the Germany camp, as Joachim Löw's men struggled to display their characteristically intelligent and technical style of football.

The game began as many do, a cautious arm wrestle back and forward as both teams tried to settle. Just as both France and Germany were finding their rhythm, Laurent Blanc's men found the net in the 21st minute.

Lille midfielder Mathieu Debuchy set off down the right, steamed into the box and put a ball in the middle for Montpellier striker Olivier Giroud to knock in. 1-0.

The Germans could justifiably feel disappointed to be trailing, but hadn't really done enough to deserve an outright lead either. They had begun to play the more enterprising soccer of the two teams, with the most promising plays coming down the right flank through the Real Madrid duo of Sami Khedira and Mesut Özil.

The first half finished with France one goal up and the Germans looking tired after last weekend's Bundesliga round.

French energy

Miroslav Klose

Miroslav Klose was given the captain's armband

As the teams ran out for the second half, one might have thought Germany could pull themselves together, but it was the French who came out firing. Les Bleus played attacking football with Manchester City wiz Sami Nasri proving too crafty at times for the German defense.

In the 69th minute, Germany struggled to deal with a swift movement down the right after Mathieu Debuchy liked up with a Nasri pass from the midfield. Debuchy swung in a cross which the German defense over-ran. After a small scramble, substitute Florent Malouda poked the ball home. 2-0.

The Germans went into their shell after falling that second goal behind, with the French stepping up to the plate, ready to claim a much-needed confidence booster ahead of Euro 2012.

As the game drew to a close, Germany grabbed a surprise consolation goal in the first minute of injury time. Substitute Cacau had a simple tap-in after Thomas Müller whipped a low cross across goal to the back post, leaving little for his teammate to do but get a foot to it to pull the score back to 2-1.

It could be argued that the Germans were under-strength, with captain Philipp Lahm, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Mario Götze and Sven Bender all sidelined through injury. Regular keeper Manuel Neuer was also left out of the starting team, with Werder Bremen goalie Tim Wiese given a chance to impress in front of his home crowd. But this excuse will hardly fly given the depth of talent the team has displayed in recent years and the knowledge that in tournament football, quite often it is the country with the strongest squad, and not strongest starting XI, that comes away victorious.

Plenty to ponder

Joachim Löw

The game gave Löw plenty to ponder

In post-match comments, Löw mused on his team's inability to stick to their game plan.

"I am a bit annoyed about how we lost this game," he said. "France played better than we did and we had difficulty getting into our game. The gap between midfield and defense was too big. I think we have some work to do defensively ahead of the European Championship."

Müller, who came on at half-time for the injured Andre Schürrle, said: "We shouldn't read too much into the game but we have to ask ourselves why we played so carelessly. We did too little tracking back. It was a bit undisciplined."

With Euro 2012 kicking off in June, Löw will undoubtedly spend the coming three months ensuring his men regain their discipline and pay as little attention as possible to their tag as one of the tournament's favorites.

With the Netherlands, Denmark and Portugal in their group, they'll need all the focus they can get.

Author: Darren Mara
Editor: Mark Hallam