Leroy Sane, Serge Gnabry Fire Germany to Comfortable Friendly Win over Russia

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistNovember 15, 2018

Germany's midfielder Serge Gnabry (2nd from L) celebrates scoring the third goal with his teammate (from L) defender Jonas Hector, midfielder Kai Havertz, forward Leroy Sane and forward Timo Werner during during the international friendly football match Germany v Russia in Leipzig, eastern Germany on November 15, 2018. (Photo by ROBERT MICHAEL / AFP)        (Photo credit should read ROBERT MICHAEL/AFP/Getty Images)

Leroy Sane and Niklas Sule both scored their first international goals on Thursday, as Germany coasted to a 3-0 friendly win over Russia at the Red Bull Arena in Leipzig.  

Sane got the home side off to an excellent start when he converted from Serge Gnabry's pass after eight minutes. After 25 minutes, Sule was alive in the penalty area after coming forward for a corner and then four minutes before the break Gnabry gave Germany a three-goal advantage.

After the interval, the tempo of the game slowed significantly, as both managers made a flurry of changes; Aleksey Ionov squandered Russia's best chance, missing the target from close range. 


Sane, Gnabry Will Ignite Germany Attack After World Cup Failure

LEIPZIG, GERMANY - NOVEMBER 15: Leroy Sane of Germany looks on during the International Friendly match between Germany and Russia at Red Bull Arena on November 15, 2018 in Leipzig, Germany. (Photo by Simon Hofmann/Getty Images)
Simon Hofmann/Getty Images

Germany boss Joachim Low left both Sane and Gnabry out of his squad for the World Cup in the summer, and the team was lifeless in attack as they suffered an embarrassing group stage exit.

On this evidence, the two wingers would've offered something different, as they tore into Russia time after time with their movement, intelligence on the ball and productivity in front of goal.

Gnabry, who set up the first goal and finished the second one, has shown tremendous composure at international level when chances come his way:

OptaFranz @OptaFranz

4 - @SergeGnabry has now scored 4 goals in his first 4 games for the @DFB_Team_EN - twice as many as German record goal scorer Miroslav #Klose in his first 4 games. Heir. #GERRUS https://t.co/PlI0tDzznY

The shock omission in the summer was Sane though, and despite winning the PFA Young Player of the Year award last term he's not been an automatic starter for the national side. Toni Kroos was critical of his attitude earlier this season too, per Nick Ames of the Guardian.

Based on the performance in Leipzig the Manchester City man has taken some of that advice on board, as in this form he was too hot for the Russia defence to handle. He will now surely be a lot more significant part in Low's future plans.


Sule the Natural Successor to Hummels, Boateng in Defence

LEIPZIG, GERMANY - NOVEMBER 15: Niklas Sule of Germany takes a shot on goal during International Friendly match between Germany and Russia at Red Bull Arena on November 15, 2018 in Leipzig, Germany. (Photo by Lukasz Laskowski/PressFocus/MB Media/Getty Ima
PressFocus/MB Media/Getty Images

After tough spells for both Germany and Bayern Munich lately, there has been talk about a possible changing of the guard in defence, with Jerome Boateng and Mats Hummels looking a little past their peak. Sule seems ready to step in for both club and country.

The centre-back not only scored the second goal, but he also appeared at ease in a fluid 3-4-3 system that Germany lined up in.

Per FCB Media's Cristian Nyari, the three-man defence utilised by Low, which had Sule at its heart, was working brilliantly:

Cristian Nyari @Cnyari

Germany are absolutely killing it. This system is really working well for them.

His club were pleased to see him get on the scoresheet also:

FC Bayern English @FCBayernEN

🇩🇪 A first international goal for Niklas Süle 🍻 #GERRUS #FCBayern https://t.co/GfFmGz58vt

Now 23 years old, Sule has matured in his leadership on the field and in his overall defending. While not the most naturally mobile, he's also better suited to a fast-moving system than his older Bayern team-mates.

With Boateng left out of this squad because Low thought he needed a break from international football, Sule should get another chance to show what he can do in the upcoming match with the Netherlands.


What's next?

Germany are in competitive action on Monday, as they host the Netherlands in the UEFA Nations League Group 1 contest. Russia play in the same competition, traveling to Sweden on Tuesday.


This article will be updated to provide more information soon.

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