Joachim Löw’s German national team has beaten Israel 2-0 in a one-sided friendly encounter. Löw said that a starting eleven can never be set in stone for a tournament, but he fielded a strong side ahead of Euro 2012.
Germany kept a clean sheet and put two goals past Israel in Thursday's friendly - at least partially laying the demons of Saturday's 5-3 defeat to Switzerland to rest. Mario Gomez and substitute Andre Schürrle did the damage in Leipzig at the Red Bull Arena.
Coach Joachim Löw described the game as a final test ahead of Euro 2012 that was passed in reasonable style, saying “it will surely put a little wind in our sails.” He also acknowledged that the team was not yet firing on all cylinders, not least after the late arrivals of busy key players at clubs like Bayern Munich and Real Madrid.
Thursday's lineup was markedly different to the Bayern-devoid squad that faced Switzerland, with Holger Badstuber, Jerome Boateng and captain Philipp Lahm all returning to the back four. Asked if Badstuber would partner Per Mertesacker in central defense against Portugal on June 9, Germany's diplomatic coach warned that “there is never a first XI at a major tournament.”
That might be music to the ears of German hopefuls including Mats Hummels, Andre Schürrle, Marco Reus and Mario Götze, all of whom started the game in the dugout.
Dominance, but little bite
Miroslav Klose was another who was left to ride the pine, where he watched his main rival up front Mario Gomez - another Bayern lad - open the scoring on 40 minutes. If anything, the strike was overdue against an outgunned Israeli side content to defend deep and hope for counter-attacking chances.
Germany was just as dominant in the second period, perhaps more so as their opponents began to tire. Lukas Podolski had a powerful shot parried on 63 minutes, the culmination of easily Germany’s best move of the match down the left flank.
Mesut Özil, Thomas Müller, and Miroslav Klose had all enjoyed at least some sniffs at goal - usually from within the Israeli area. Löw dipped deep into his bench during the course of the second period, bringing on four replacement midfielders and Klose up front - but he didn’t touch the back line.
The first double-switch yielded results. Andre Schürrle replaced Podolski, ultimately finding a way past Ariel Harosh between the Israeli sticks after 82 minutes of play.
Smashing a second home
Schürrle cut in from the left wing, was afforded too much space, and loosened off a fierce right-footed strike that nestled in the top-left corner. The 22-year-old Bayer Leverkusen winger has scored in half of his games for Germany and was asked if he had eyes on usurping Arsenal-bound Lukas Podolski on the left at Euro 2012.
“Yes of course I'm optimistic. Personally, I want to play as much as possible, but that's not what really matters, what matters is what we all can do for Germany,” Schürrle told ARD television after the game.
Israeli coach Eli Gutman said after the game that it was only natural that his side would seek to stem the tide against far superior opposition, positing that Germany was the second best side in the world - without saying who stood above them.
As to whether Germany could theoretically win the July 1 final, Gutman said “yes of course. When you have players like Götze and Klose on the bench and then such players on the field.”
No more rehearsals
Versatile captain Philipp Lahm played well at left back on Thursday, with Jerome Boateng marshalling the opposite side of the defense. Lahm concurred with Gutman that the quality of Löw's squad is sensational but also cautioned “we have to be awake from day one, we have to beat Portugal.”
Germany's next game against Portugal in Lviv on June 9 will be the fourth of the Euro 2012 competition as a whole. Following the Portugal encounter, Germany will face arch-rivals the Netherlands and then Denmark in what most would consider to be the tournament's “Group of Death.”
Author: Mark Hallam
Editor: Spencer Kimball