Pre-World Cup friendlies season kicked off in inauspicious fashion on Tuesday evening, as an experimental Germany side drew 0-0 with Poland in a truly dire match in Hamburg.
Germany head coach Joachim Loew opted to give his fringe players a run-out, giving those in his provisional 30-man squad considered unlikely to make the final 23-man cut a late chance to impress him and change his thoughts.
Unfortunately, none of them really took that chance and made the most of it. The standard of play was only ever-fleetingly rising above mediocre as neither side created clear-cut chances of note.
Germany did come closest, twice being denied by goal-line clearances, but Poland also mustered the occasional opening—although their attacking intent seemed to fade the longer the match went on.
"I had fun today, because we had a number of new players," Loew told reporters afterwards. "Our young lads did a really good job today. They were well organised and tried to go forward. They were able to play the way we asked."
Says a lot when the most experienced player in Germany's XI is Draxler, at 20 years of age. And accordingly, he's captain— Clark Whitney (@Mr_Bundesliga) May 13, 2014
It remains to be seen what exactly Loew gained from this encounter. His team started reasonably brightly—especially when compared with the rest of the match—but were let down by the wasteful finishing of Julian Draxler and Kevin Volland, who might both be a bit more concerned about their final selection prospects after this.
Indeed, Germany's closest call came from a defender—debutant Antonio Rudiger—seeing his powerful header cleared off the line by Slawomir Peszko after he had gone up for a corner.
Poland, at this point, were enjoying just as much of the ball as their more vaunted opponents, although both Mateusz Klich and Thiago Cionek struggled when presented with reasonable sights of goal.
Ahead of the second half, both countries made changes, although with Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich players unavailable due to cup final commitments this weekend, there remained an understudy feel to the whole affair.
Augsburg midfielder Andre Hahn was one player to enter the fray and did his best to up the tempo, struggling with his footwork in the early moments of his debut but improving as the game went on. He eventually saw a late header that would have won the game agonisingly cleared off the line at the far post.
Poland had focused almost entirely on defence at this point, but nevertheless, it would have been difficult to argue they warranted defeat. Indeed, it would be much easier to suggest the fans who made it to the Imtech Arena deserved some sort of refund.
12 - 12 players made their debut in the German national team today. Jogi Löw allowed 0.82 debuts/match in his 102 games before. Experiment.— OptaFranz (@OptaFranz) May 13, 2014
Germany, on this evidence, will scare no one when they touch down in Brazil in a few weeks' time. Fortunately for them, however, they have a whole other array of more established players to call upon by the time that trip arrives.
The question, then, is how many of the players on show Tuesday night will also be on that plane. The suspicion is that this performance will not have improved any participant's chances.
|Marc-Andre ter Stegen||6|