Opinion: Leroy Sané helps Germany rediscover the fun factor in football | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 20.03.2019
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Opinion: Leroy Sané helps Germany rediscover the fun factor in football

Joachim Löw's big re-start looked like another a false start until Leroy Sané inspired a much-improved second half. The winner may not have come but at least Germany were fun to watch again, says DW's Matt Ford.

After a first half in which Germany suffered an early setback, survived some defensive let-offs and failed to produce much in the way of attacking intent, it looked as if Joachim Löw's big re-start was destined to be a false start.

At the back, Niklas Süle looked lost without the experience of Mats Hummels or Jerome Boateng next to him while, in midfield, Ilkay Gündogan was too deep to influence proceedings. Up front, Julian Brandt was busy but ineffective, Kai Havertz was anonymous, Timo Werner looked nervous and Leroy Sané grew increasingly frustrated.

Boos and whistles were audible at half-time in Wolfsburg and one could understand why – this did not look like progress. But progress takes time - 45 minutes, to be precise.

With Marco Reus and Leon Goretzka on in place of Havertz and Brandt, and Gündogan pushed further up, Germany began to click. Where there had been hesitation, inertia and nerves, the white shirts began to exude decisiveness, pace and confidence. It was no surprise that it was the two substitutes who combined to draw Germany level.

Matt Ford Kommentarbild

DW's Matt Ford

But no-one embodied the change more than Sané, who visibly thrived on the increased tempo and drove his teammates on through the gears. His exquisite flick to find Gündogan just after the hour mark looked like it had ushered in the equalizer but his Manchester City teammate's shot was heroically cleared off the line.

It took further heroics to keep Sané at bay as the game progressed. The 23-year-old left two defenders sprawling in his wake with a lightning-quick turn inside the box but was denied by goalkeeper Dmitrovic. And Serbia had their goalkeeper to thank again after Sané had driven a wedge through the visitors' defense with a surging run.

Germany and Sané were enjoying themselves again, and Serbia were forced to resort to more cynical tactics to avoid conceding a winner. Milan Pavkov's injury-time challenge on Sané was late, reckless, dangerous and born of frustration – that's what the former Schalke youngster had done to them. Sensibly, the referee called time on the friendly. 

Fortunately for Germany – and Manchester City – Sané was ok. He was up and smiling again and, after inspiring his team's second-half performance, so were Germany.