Shell-shocked Germany host bogey side Italy
Shell-shocked Germany hunt a rare win over bogey side Italy in a friendly international in Munich on Tuesday as the world champions seek to bounce back from their defeat to England.
Joachim Loew’s Germany threw away a two-goal lead in Berlin on Saturday to slump to a 3-2 loss against Roy Hodgson’s England.
“That was a wake-up call,” fumed Germany’s captain Sami Khedira, a stand-in with Bastian Schweinsteiger ruled out of the Italy friendly with a knee injury.
Less than three months before the start of the European championships in France, the England defeat exposed sloppy defending and lack of composure in the world champions’ ranks.
On the back of an unconvincing qualifying campaign for Euro 2016, the defeat to England has further rattled the Germans.
“We have to be clear that a game like that in a tournament means you’re going home,” said Germany striker Mario Gomez, who netted against England and had a goal disallowed.
Most worrying for Loew was the way his defence buckled without his World Cup-winning centre-backs Mats Hummels, who went off injured, and Jerome Boateng, who is nursing a groin problem.
Loew will demand an improved performance against Italy at Munich’s Allianz Arena in his final international before naming his squad in May for Euro 2016, which runs from June 10-July 10.
“At least we have the chance now to correct a few things against another strong opponent, you have to live with results like that, but they are annoying,” said Loew.
Germany are still waiting for a first win over Italy at a major tournament — they have won none of their three meetings at European championships or five at the World Cup.
In the 32 meetings between the two European powerhouses, Germany have won just seven games, all friendlies and qualifiers, with Italy winning 15 and the other ten games drawn.
Germany left Warsaw empty handed when the sides last met nearly four years ago at Euro 2012 as two Mario Balotelli first-half goals sealed their 2-1 semi-final win.
Previous to that, the Azzurri also ended the hosts’ dreams of reaching the 2006 World Cup final as Fabio Grosso and Alessandro Del Piero scored in a 2-0 extra-time win in the semi-final.
Antonio Conte’s Italy warmed up for the Munich match with a 1-1 draw against defending European champions Spain in Udine on Thursday.
The draw ended Spain’s six-match winning run as Lorenzo Insigne gave Italy a second-half lead before veteran Spanish striker Aritz Aduriz equalised just three minutes later.
Gomez’s place in Germany’s starting line-up is set to go to Mario Goetze, who needs a convincing display after a frustrating three years at Bayern Munich.
The 23-year-old, whose goal won the 2014 World Cup, has found himself mainly on the Munich bench during an injury-hit season since his high-profile switch from Borussia Dortmund in 2013.
The Germany-Italy friendly is a chance for Goetze to prove he deserves more than a place on the bench after missing five months of the season with a groin injury.