Norway snatched a rare 1-0 win over Germany in a friendly international in Dusseldorf on Wednesday. It's Germany's second loss at home in a row and bodes ill for upcoming World Cup qualifiers.
Ballack said Germany lacked the creativity to break the Norwegian defense
The game was not expected to be overly exciting with Germany, runners up in the 2008 European Championships and rated second best in the world by FIFA, hosted Norway, ranked 56, but the score of the dull match was exactly the opposite of what experts expected.
The loss marks the second successive home defeat by Germany who had been beaten 2-1 by England in Berlin in November. Norway, who were without a win in 2008, were full value for their second win against Germany since the 1936 Olympics.
Christian Grindheim's goal from close range in the 63rd minute of the match Wednesday, Feb. 11, inflicted the second straight defeats on a German side for the first time under coach Joachim Loew.
Lessons to learn
Germany will hope for better performances in World Cup qualifiers
Loew has selected Norway for Germany's first friendly of the year because the Norwegian style mirrors that of Liechtenstein and Wales, who Germany face in World Cup 2010 qualifiers. But there was little positive for Loew to take from his team's performance.
"We can't complain that we lost," Loew said, adding that Germany would learn from the match. "Norway were well organized and we couldn't switch from defence to attack quickly. There was a lot missing from our game. We lacked pace and created too few goal chances. Norway had all the time in the world to get 10 men behind the ball."
Germany are ranked second in the world, under FIFA's listings, with Norway 54 places below in 56th and while Germany are top of their World Cup qualifying group, Norway are bottom, but none of those facts was obvious on the field.
The German side enjoyed plenty of possession but lacked inspiration. Norway were content to sit back and defend in numbers, but when they did break they were more the effective.
"We have to play at a higher tempo against an opponent like Norway and create more chances," said Germany captain Michael Ballack. "We were just too sedate in our playing structure, the ball wasn't moved forward fast enough. This is a warning for our next few games, we could not crack the Norwegian defence."
Good chances on goal were few for Germany
German goalkeeper Rene Adler had to tip a Thorstein Helstad header over the bar in the 22nd minute in Norway's best chance. The visitors were also unfortunate not to get a penalty, but Austrian referee Stefan Messner waved play on after Daniel Braaten was upended in the area by Heiko Westermann.
The Germans had to wait for nearly an hour for their best chance when keeper Rune Almenning Jarstein dived low to tip a Mario Gomez driver round the post.
But it was Norway who took the lead in a goal which summed up Germany's lackluster display.
A long throw on the left after Germany lost possession was headed back to Morten Gamst Pedersen who had time to cross for Grindheim to force the ball over the line from close range for his first goal for Norway.
Full-strength Germany disappoint
Half-time changes seemed to upset Germany confidence
Germany were virtually at full strength with captain Michael Ballack and Torsten Frings back in the side in central midfield.
But Loew rung the changes at half-time rang the changes at half-time, bringing on Hoffenheim defender Andreas Beck for his first cap.
Serdar Tasci, Patrick Helmes, Stefan Kiessling, Marko Marin and Mesut Ozil for his first cap also saw action, without effect.
Although the Norwegian season does not resume until March, the visitors looked sharper, and a good move saw Per Skjelbred flash a shot over the bar.
Olsen, 66, who led Norway to the 1994 and 1998 World Cups, is initially in charge of the team for three matches, but the victory may help him stay on longer.