Germany Unimpressive in Pre-World Cup Friendly Loss vs. Austria

Gill Clark@@gillclarkyFeatured Columnist IJune 2, 2018

Austria's midfielder Alessandro Schoepf (L) celebrates scoring with his team-mate defender Stefan Lainer during the international friendly footbal match Austria v Germany in Klagenfurt, Austria, on June 2, 2018. (Photo by Johann GRODER / APA / AFP) / Austria OUT        (Photo credit should read JOHANN GRODER/AFP/Getty Images)

Germany's FIFA World Cup 2018 preparations suffered a blow as they slipped to a surprise 2-1 defeat to Austria on Saturday.

The match was delayed due to torrential rain in Klagenfurt, Austria, but it did not seem to affect Germany, who took the lead through a Mesut Ozil goal after just 11 minutes.

Germany looked comfortable throughout the first half, but Austria hit back after the break, and goals from Martin Hinteregger and Alessandro Schopf handed them a deserved victory.


Neuer Shines On Return To Action

Manuel Neuer made his first start since he fractured a metatarsal in September, and he played like he'd never been away.

Bayern Munich showed exactly how long he had been out of action for:

FC Bayern English @FCBayernEN

Great to see @Manuel_Neuer make his comeback after 2️⃣5️⃣9️⃣ days! ☺️👍 #NeuerTheWall #AUTGER https://t.co/jZSgJYhn7r

The 32-year-old looked sharp and confident, while his distribution from the back was excellent.

The German captain also had absolutely no chance with either goal. Hinteregger's equaliser was a sweetly struck strike, and Schopf's fine finish that was sent low into the far corner.

Neuer's return is well-timed with the World Cup just weeks away and will give Joachim Low's side a big boost ahead of the tournament in Russia.


Germany Must Guard Against Complacency

Germany will be out to defend their title in Russia and will be one of the favourites to lift the trophy, yet they must guard against complacency.

Low's men seemed to fall asleep in the second half following Ozil's opener, and Austria were the far hungrier and determined team after the break.

Mark Lovell of ESPN FC said Germany made Austria look like world champions:

Mark Lovell @LovellLowdown

Always going to be tough game without first choices @esmuellert_ @matshummels @JB17Official but Germany making Austria look like world champions

Die Mannschaft have a star-studded squad and plenty of experience but were deservedly beaten by Austria, who did not even qualify for the World Cup.


Ozil Fit and Firing Ahead of World Cup

Ozil missed the end of Arsenal's season due to a back injury, which led Arsene Wenger to defend his star against accusations he picks which games he plays in, per Jake Polden of the Mirror.

The midfielder started the game and put Germany ahead with a neat finish, as shown by Football on BT Sport:

Football on BT Sport @btsportfootball

11 minutes was all it took for Germany to grab the lead! Mesut Ozil gets the 23rd senior international goal of his career with a tidy finish 👌 Austria 0-1 Germany ️⚽️ BT Sport 2 HD 📺 https://t.co/WZEIg4bQjD

Indy Football highlighted his international record:

Indy Football @IndyFootball

Mesut Ozil has now scored 23 goals in 90 international appearances for Germany 🇩🇪 https://t.co/7O1HI84rbe

Ozil's languid nature and laid-back body language make him an easy target for criticism. However, he can be a key player for Germany and the signs are he will be fit and ready for the tournament. 


Sane, Brandt and Petersen Miss Chance To Impress

Freiburg striker Nils Petersen was handed his Germany debut on Saturday, but he had a quiet game and failed to impress.

Leroy Sane and Julian Brandt suffered similar struggles, offering little to trouble the Austria defence.

Once Germany fell behind they had few chances to equalise, and Austria looked the more dangerous side on the break.

Germany's lack of attacking power and inspiration will be of concern to Low, who has just one more friendly before the World Cup, against Saudi Arabia on Friday.