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Serge Gnabry celebrates his opener against Romania
Serge Gnabry celebrates his opener Image: Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images

Germany continue human rights support before Romania win

March 28, 2021

Joachim Löw's side looked less ruthless than against Iceland but still got the job done against their supposed toughest group opponents. In Bucharest, Germany's players also continued their support for human rights.


Romania 0 - 1 Germany
(Gnabry 16')

Another Germany qualifier, another show of support for human rights. Joachim Löw's side appear to have not only discovered their playing mojo but also activated their activism.

Against Iceland, Leon Goretzka and co. spelled out letters on their T-shirts. Against Romania, they and staff members (30 in total) turned their shirts around to reveal their names, seemingly to show support for the 30 basic human rights.

"The idea came from the team," said captain Manuel Neuer after the match. "We want fair play on and off the field. We stand for those 30 basic human rights and diversity."

Failure to finish

The move initially  left onlookers as confused as Germany's attack looked for much of the game. Serge Gnaby scored in the first half to continue his fine form, but he, Kai Havertz, Leroy Sané and substitute Timo Werner were all guilty of not finishing the game off.

To suggest this was just a night of poor German composure though would be a disservice to Romanian goalkeeper Florin Nita. The Sparta Prague keeper was in excellent form and probably man-of-the-match.

"Compliments to my fellow keeper tonight, he made some top saves," added Neuer.

After two wins in two and a clear overall improvement, Germany might not be looking excellent but they are looking better than a year ago. A hard-fought win, even one made unnecessarily difficult, is important for a team that spent much of the back end of last year conceding, and late in games. 

The bigger issue than the lack of attacking inspiration from their wingbacks, Löw's hesitancy to make more substitutes or too many midfield options is the image of this team.

More and more athletes are becoming activists for causes they care about and Goretzka has certainly made no secret of what he cares about throughout his career. But with Germany, the waters are muddied by their football association (DFB) and the domestic game's connections to countries where human rights abuses are taking place.

Kimmich the conductor

Joshua Kimmich, quickly emerging as the man whose form dictates Germany's performance, said before the game it was 10 years too late to boycott the World Cup. An odd thing to say, albeit well intentioned. Following the same logic, it might be argued the team's current show of support for human rights is also 10 years too late.

Germany have made a start though, both on and off the field. If messages of support become tangible change, it could define this team and its association in a broader sense than winning any tournament.

Fußball | WM Qualifikation | Deutschland - Rumänien
Image: Daniel Mihailescu/AFP/Getty Images

+++ As it happened +++

FULL TIME: That's it. Germany bring Younes on for Sané and the whistle is blown seconds after.  It's six points from six in so far, and they've now won their last 18 World Cup qualifiers.

90+3 - Kimmich booked for taking too much time on a freekick as Germany run out the clock.

90+2 - Substitution

Germany make their second sub. Neuhaus on to waste time, Gnabry replaced.

90+1 - There will be three minutes of injury time.

90' - Oh, Leroy Sané, you've got away with one there. The winger plays a loose pass which plays Stanciu in against Neuer. The German keeper does well to narrow the angle and Stanciu slaps it in to the side netting. Got to hit the target.

88' - Sané gets in another promising position and once again chops back and forth to little effect. It's not happened for the Bayern man tonight.

87' - Chance!

They do make that chance. A slip from Ginter allows Puscas to go one-on-one with Rüdiger. The Romanian does enough to get a shot away, it's well struck but straight at Neuer, who beats it clear. 

84' - Gnabry thinks he's in but is flagged offside. He looked on from the replays there. Can Romania find one chance before the whistle?

82' - The hosts win a corner but waste it, not for the first time.

80' - Chance!

Gündogan picks out a lovely little reverse ball to play Werner in to his favorite channel on the inside left. The first touch is good, but the shot is too close to the keeper. 

77' - Werner on!

Havertz, who has faded after a strong first half, is replaced by his Chelsea teammate Werner. That's Germany's first change.

76' - After plenty of faffing, the man who won the freekick drives it in to the wall, catching a Romanian player flush in the face.

74' - Sané dances his way to a freekick, central, 25 yards out or so. 

72' - Neuer comes out of goal and tries to chest one down to Rüdiger but leaves it short. Puscas nips in but is forced wide. Eventually he wins a corner which is swung straight in the the keeper's arms. Got away with that one.

68' - Germany are able to get in and around the Romania box almost at will, but they still can't find that second. They've been worryingly profligate this evening.

65' Double substituation

The home side make the first move. Keserü and Mihaila replaced by Man and Puscas.

63 - Miss!

Gnabry and Sané again. This time the former is wide on the left and fizzes one across to the latter. He's four yards out but doesn't get enough contact on it and stabs it wide. Great chance, that. It probably goes in if the roles are reversed.

61' - Chance!

Another good break from Germany, who have been stung in to action. Gnabry feeds Sané on the left and he cuts back to his former Manchester City teammate Gündogan. His shot is well struck, but straight at the keeper, who punches striaght up in the air and clears at the second attempt. Moments later, Can's low cross is scrambled away. Germany turning up the heat.

58' - Chance!

Better from the visitors as Gnabry wriggles in to space on the edge of the box. He ignores Havertz on the outside and goes from goal but his low, slightly scuffed, shot is turned round the post. The corner comes to nothing.

55' - Germany have been far from ruthless, perhaps because they lack a real striker and could still pay the price. Tanase has a couple of pot shots in the box to remind Löw's team that one may not be enough.

54' - A bit of light comedy there to liven things up. Romania give it away cheaply and Gnabry plays in Sané. He rounds the keeper but can't find the final touch. The ball rebounds harmlessly to Nita, who somehow thinks it's a backpass, panics and punts it out of play.

52' - Goretzka drives clear down the right and stands up a cross to Gnabry. But he nudges his man and it's a freekick to Romania.

50' - Ginter and Neuer combine to snuff out a Romanian attack and Germany spring clear through Sané. The ball eventually comes to Goretzka who hammers one goalward from right to left. It's a bit too central but still a tidy stop from Nita in the home side's goal.

48' - Sané is interested in running on to a long through ball but the Romanian keeper has been watching Neuer and charges out to clear with a diving header.

46' - We're off again. Can Germany get that all-important second goal?

HALF TIME: A straightforward half for Joachim Löw's men ends with them ahead, but perhaps not by as many as they could be. They've had nearly three-quarters of the possession but the closest they've come to a second was when Kimmich rattled the bar with a deflected effort. A gulf in class but not, yet, in scoreline.

45' - Germany are camped in the opposition half as the break approaches before Can finally has a pop. It's straight at the keeper.

43' - Kimmich lifts a freekick in to the box and Gnabry is there. But he's beyond the front post and can't keep his header down.

40' - The pace has dropped a fair bit here but Germany are still looking comfortable enough in second gear.

37' - Romania have a freekick out wide on the left deep in the German half. But it's scuffed and Klostermann clears. Waste of a decent position, that.

34' - Havertz wins a corner, he's getting plenty of joy out on the right. But the ball in is easily cleared.

32' - Chance!

Klostermann does well to reach a ball that looks to be running out for a goal kick and manages to squeeze a low cross to Gnabry. It's a difficult one to take for the winger and he takes an air shot at it.

28' - Flicks and tricks from Sane and Gündogan present Kimmich with a chance to shoot from just inside the box. But his low effort is blocked. The second goal is in the post though.

26' - Back to the game and Germany are looking pretty comfortable, though Neuer has just had to make a save. Havertz and Gnabry both look particularly threatening.

24' - Another T-shirt stand?

Germany's players turned their T-shirts round for the pre-match team photo and it was unclear why. A subsequent tweet from the team account suggests it is again related to human rights (the 30 basic human rights). Some are suggesting 30 people (players and staff) took part.

20' - Romania want a freekick just outside the box by Germany's left byline as Rüdiger sends Hagi tumbling. Nothing given but it did look like a little nudge.

19' - Woodwork!

The Romanian crossbar is still vibrating after a Kimmich strike takes a slight deflection. Germany stepping on the accelerator.

16' Goal! Romania 0 - 1 Germany (Gnabry)

Rüdiger spots Havertz' run just in time and floats a long ball to his Chelsea teammate on the right. Havertz takes a couple of touches, looks up and rolls across for Gnabry, flying in from the opposite wing, to tuck home from close range. Nicely worked, but the home side offered little resistance.

12' - Chance!

They've barely had a kick but suddenly Romania have the best chance of the game. Chiriches launches a fairly straight ball from the back that totally turns the Germany defense. Mihaila is on to it ahead of Ginter but his first touch is a little heavy and his shot skews high and wide. Best chance of the match so far though.

9' - Germany again work some space on the right, but the keeper deals with Gnabry's effort easily enough.

8' - A wild hoof from Can almost has Germany in trouble, but they clear and break quickly, finding Sane after another strong run from Havertz. But the Bayern winger can't find space to get a shot off. At the other end, Romania have a glimmer as Keserü swings a left leg at one from outside the box on the counce. But it flies over.

5' - A loose ball breaks to Can on the edge of the box. It's set nicely for the makeshift leftback on his favored right foot and he tries to curl it towards the top corner, but it's a little too high. 

2' - Havertz drives unchallenged through midfield and shifts the ball to the right. But Klostermann's cross is blocked. Germany dominating possession early on.

1' - Kick off

And we're off, Gnabry gets us underway.

-- Stand or stunt?

Our man for all things German national team, Jonathan Harding, was unimpressed by how the German football association (DFB) tried to market their players' actions after the Iceland game. Are you with him on this?

-- Unchanged side for Germany

Joachim Löw sticks with the same side that brushed off Iceland last week. Understandably so to some degree, though with the games coming thick and fast some rotation may have been expected. Danger man Ianis Hagi starts for Romania, who are captained by former Spurs and Napoli defender Vlad Chiriches.

-- Löw on opponents

Germany coach Joachim Löw won't be around for the Qatar World Cup but he did say in his press conference that a boycott would be misguided. He also spoke about Sunday's opponents, who he believes will ask questions of Germany's shaky defense.

"The Romanians are a different team than Iceland," he said. "They are much more offensive than the Icelanders. We will be presented with many challenges. "

-- Gündogan in the goals

Ilkay Gündogan managed 16 goals in seven seasons in the Bundesliga but has already managed more than that in the current campaign. He carried his goalscoring form from Manchester Cityin to the national team last week, can he repeat the dose tonight?

-- Kimmich on Qatar

Germany's decision to follow Norway's lead in wearing T-shirts highlighting their desire for greater scrutiny of the human rights situation in Qatar has captured headlines worldwide, with the Netherlands following suit on Saturday.

But, speaking in a pre-match press conference, Joshua Kimmich said he felt the discussion should have been had much earlier. 

"I think we're 10 years too late to boycott the World Cup," the Bayern Munich midfielder said. "It wasn't allocated this year, but a couple of years ago. One should have thought about boycotting back then.

"Now we need to take the opportunity and use our publicity to raise awareness about things. But it's not just down to us footballers ... we should work together."

-- Germany look for 18 in a row

Hello and welcome to DW's live coverage of Germany's second qualifier for World Cup 2022. Germany impressed against Iceland on Thursday and are expected to record an 18th consecutive World Cup qualifying win against a side ranked 37th in the world.

Romania let a two goal lead slip against North Macedonia in their Group J opener before an 85th-minute strike from Ianis Hagi, son of Romanian icon Gheorghe Hagi, secured all three points.