Switzerland have beaten Germany in a free-scoring international friendly in Basel. Swiss Bundesliga stars did the damage as Joachim Löw conceded five goals for the first time in his Germany coaching career.
An experimental starting eleven with no Bayern Munich players whatsoever took to the pitch in Basel for a Euro 2012 warm-up against Switzerland. Fans of the beautiful game might have licked their lips as Löw sent out four attacking midfielders and played Mesut Özil and Mario Götze side by side in the middle of the park.
In the end, though, it was the Swiss hosts who blasted five goals past the Germans to win the friendly 5-3. Unfortunate Marc-Andre ter Stegen, making an ill-fated debut in the German goal at the tender age of 20, picked the ball out of his own net six times in total - though the last Swiss strike was disallowed.
Swiss coach and German legend Ottmar Hitzfeld sought to be gracious in defeat, pointing out that Germany had beaten Spain shortly before the 2010 World Cup – when the Spaniards went on to win the tournament. He optimistically called the result "a good omen."
The first quarter of an hour was a rather sterile affair, Sami Khedira might have had a half-chance from a corner, but his control let him down and he never got a shot away. The other incidents of note also hailed from set pieces, most of which were ably dealt with by the German and Swiss defenders.
Switzerland were largely on the back foot in the early going but struck in style on the counter attack mid-way through the first half.
Left winger Tranquilo Barnetta broke away and first fed Eren Derdiyok with an inviting low pass across the face of goal. The front-man finished first-time with his right foot, leaving debutante ter Stegen no chance.
Two minutes after this opening goal, Barnetta lofted in a swirling early cross in another move down the left. This time, an unmarked Derdiyok rose to head the ball into the top corner. Marc-Andre ter Stegen was helpless in the German goal. Derdiyok is leaving Leverkusen to play at Hoffenheim next season, while Barnetta is also thought to be seeking a new home.
The German stars were not really spurred into action by this sudden deficit but did manage to close the gap moments before half time. Dortmund defender Mats Hummels jumped to head home a Mesut Özil free-kick seconds before the break. The ball bounced in off the underside of the crossbar and despite some initial confusion as to whether it had crossed the line, the goal was ultimately awarded. Hummels had never scored for Germany before.
Attacking subs, another conceded
An uncharacteristically anonymous Özil was replaced by Marco Reus at the break, while Dortmund's Ilkay Gündogan took to the field in Khedira's stead. Already trailing, Löw sought to push forward with greater zeal.
The tactic backfired with another goal from a set piece, in a game where neither side looked comfortable dealing with crosses.
Once again Barnetta swung the ball in for Derdiyok to head home on 50 minutes, making it a hat trick of goals and assists for the Leverkusen tag team.
Germany attacked with far greater purpose in the second period, and perhaps their strongest spell in the game was capped by a long-range blast from another Leverkusen lad, Andre Schürrle. The pacy attacker blasted the ball from distance, and it nestled in the center of the goal - Diego Benaglio in the Swiss net appeared to have misjudged the flight of the ball, the Wolfsburg keeper might normally have been expected to deal with the shot.
Difficult debuts, Reus opens his account
But within three minutes Germany conceded a fourth. Gökhan Inler's long ball looked innocuous enough, but ter Stegen's decision to charge after it coupled with the defense's abject failure to pick up Swiss runner Stephan Lichtsteiner led to an easy headed goal for the adventurous defender. The cameras immediately cut to a furious Joachim Löw gesticulating and shouting orders from the touchline.
Teenager Julian Draxler replaced Lukas Podolski to make his German debut in the second half. His 72nd-minute run and right-footed shot, which was only parried by Benaglio, enabled fellow substitute Marco Reus to follow up and score his first ever goal for Germany - making the score 4-3 Switzerland.
Shortly after this strike the Swiss scored again from a short free-kick routine. Left-back Reto Ziegler hit the post and Admir Mehmedi was all alone around the penalty spot to pick up the rebound and slot it home. Philippe Senderos scored a sixth late in the game but was deemed to have fouled ter Stegen in the process. The Gladbach goalie, voted the best in Germany by his playing peers recently, had a torrid time in his national debut.
As for the experimental back line, missing captain Phillip Lahm and other Bayern Munich links in the chain, conceding four goals from crosses and another from a short free-kick is liable to raise serious questions about positioning and communication.
Germany plays one final Euro 2012 warm-up match on May 31 against Israel. Before that game, however, Löw must trim his current provisional squad down to 23 players, meaning at least four players will face the chop.
Author: Mark Hallam
Editor: Jane McIntosh