Germany turn on the style to win back the fans | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 30.03.2016
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Germany turn on the style to win back the fans

Under fire for the way they threw away a two-goal lead against England, Germany promised more when they took on Italy. But few fans would have expected the display of attacking verve they were treated to in Munich.

It seems fair to suggest that as German fans made their way to the Allianz Arena on Tuesday evening, almost none could or would have predicted what they were about to see. Sure, Joachim Löw's men had pledged to make amends for Saturday's lackluster performance in Berlin but did anyone really expect such a comprehensive and positive display?

There was a noticeable contrast in the moods of the two sets of fans as they made their way from the Fröttmaning underground station up to the Allianz Arena on Tuesday. The Italians, many of whom spoke fluent German indicating that they live and perhaps were even born in Germany, seemed confident. And why not? Their team hadn't lost to the Germans in almost 21 years.

The German fans, while also generally upbeat, clearly didn't like their chances of getting a result. "The Germans won't win, but (we'll) have a nice night anyway," said one German fan in remarkably good English as he and his buddy walked towards the entrance gates.

Later a German television journalist speaking in a two-way chat with the studio back in Berlin, was asked to give his pre-game prediction. "1-1," he said without giving it a second's thought.

Italian confidence short lived

After the athems were played, fans from both sides settled in for what most must have thought would be a close contest.

The Azzurri's fans started the match in a positive mood and the first chants of "Italia, Italia" were heard after their side won a corner in the 7th minute. But it wouldn't last, the away fans quickly becoming as subdued as their team.

Fußball Länderspiel Deutschland - Italien

It was a frustrating night for Italian coach Antonio Conte

In contrast, Germany looked excellent, like a different team to the one that took to the pitch at the Olympic Stadium on the weekend - and that wasn't just because Löw had made a number of changes to the lineup. In turn, the home fans responded to their side's increased levels of committment and urgency, they could see that Germany really wanted this one.

Something to prove

After the match, Thomas Müller, named captain for the night, admitted that the team knew they needed a better performance than they gave on Saturday.

"Of course we never like it either, when we don't win. So for this reason, we wanted to show something today," he told reporters afterwards.

Germany were always the better team and the crowd responded accordingly. When Mario Götze struck just before the halftime whistle, the roar of the crowd was so loud, you almost feared it would remove the roof that covered part of the Allianz Arena.

As Müller admitted afterwards though, the players couldn't help but think back to the 2-0 lead they had blown in Berlin.

"Of course when we went up 2-0, last Saturday's game entered our thoughts - and you want to win whenever you get a 2-0 lead."

After a beautiful passing move allowed Jonas Hector to extend the lead to three with his first international goal at around the hour mark, one journalist in the press seats turned to his neighbor and shook his head in disbelief at the team's improvement since Saturday. He wasn't alone.

Fußball Länderspiel Deutschland - Italien

Mesut Özil struck from the penalty spot to put the outcome out of doubt

The impression that the crowd were happy with the home side's display was confirmed when Mesut Özil stepped up to convert a penalty drawn by Sebastian Rudy with 15 minutes to go. As the Arsenal man stroked home, it seemed like half of the crowd were stood up, smartphones in hand, to snap a photo of the fourth goal.

'Oh ist das schön!'

10 minutes from time, large sections of the home supporters joined in song, belting out "Oh ist das schön!" a ditty reserved for a big victory that you are sure is really in the bag.

Stephan El Shaarawy's goal for the Italians a few minutes from time did nothing to dampen the German fans spirits.

And while throwing away that two-goal lead in Berlin won't be soon forgotten, neither will this solid victory. That's how it is when you comprehensively beat an opponent you hadn't got the better of in more than two decades.

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