Primed Podolski has Germany firing in time for Brazil | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 06.06.2014
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Primed Podolski has Germany firing in time for Brazil

After an encouraging but goalless first half, Germany were stirred into action by Lukas Podolski, who assisted three and scored one in a 6-1 victory against Armenia that was marred only by an injury to Marco Reus.

In need of a good performance after a disappointing 2-2 draw with Cameroon on Sunday night, Germany got into their groove in their final game before heading to Brazil for the 2014 World Cup.

After a pacey start, Andre Schürrle and Marco Reus both missed chances to give Germany an early lead. Toni Kroos fired a shot over the bar as Germany pressed and pushed for the lead, but Armenia stubbornly kept them at bay.

Germany better but slowly

"I thought it was obvious that we looked a little fresher after a few days off," said coach Joachim Löw after the game. There was no doubt that Germany were indeed more lively than Sunday night. The early interplay between Reus, Schürrle and Müller was very encouraging, even if the end product failed to come to anything.

And more unconverted chances followed for the front three, as well as Jerome Boateng, who regularly roamed forward. The front three - Schürrle, Reus and Thomas Müller - were working well and their positional variation led to more attacking opportunities. The first half ended on a muted note though, as Marco Reus' thigh was clipped mid stride, twisting his ankle. The in-form winger hobbled off to be replaced by Lukas Podolski.

Fußball Länderspiel Deutschland Armenien

The injury to Marco Reus was a real shock for the Germany squad, and there is real concern his World Cup might be over before it started

With captain Philipp Lahm brought off at the break, for Mesut Özil, Germany looked to overcome the shock at the end of the first half and win the game. When Toni Kroos released the lively Lukas Podolski on the left wing, the deadlock was finally broken. Andre Schürrle timed his run perfectly and arriving at the near post, the winger flicked Podolski's low cross into the back of the net to give Germany the lead.

Podolski makes the difference

As expected, Löw made changes but after only 60 seconds of coming on, Kevin Grosskreutz gave away a needless penalty which Borussia Dortmund start Henrikh Mkhitaryan converted to draw Armenia level.

The equalizer, as it so often does, stirred Germany into action. The superb Lukas Podolski found space in the box after a neat ball by substitute Mesut Özil and the Arsenal striker made no mistake. Germany were suddenly in the mood and a minute later, Benedikt Höwedes put in a rebound after his initial leaping header had been saved.

Four minutes later and Germany had four goals. Substitute Miroslav Klose sent a thumping diving header home after more good work from Podolski. The goal sent Klose to 69 for his country, making him the outright leading goal scorer in Germany's football history.

Real concern over Reus

Podolski, hailed by Löw after the game as having "made a really good impression during World Cup preparation", made it a hat-trick of assists slipping through fellow substitute Mario Götze, who poked home a fifth. There was time for Götze to add a second in his 15-minute cameo, smashing home after a goalmouth scramble.

The 6-1 win was a perfect way for Germany to finish their World Cup preparations, with only Marco Reus' injury spoiling the party. "I've got my fingers crossed for Marco. I hope it's not anything serious, but fearing for the worst means we could be pleasantly surprised," said club teammate Mats Hummels after the final whistle. Germany will be holding it's breath in anticipation of news about the extent of Reus' injury.

Although Germany can take encouragement from a performance that has been a long time coming, the real work starts now. "We showed what we had in the second half, but we will have to be even better at the World Cup," said top performer Lukas Podolski after the game.

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