SOCHI, Russia (Reuters) - Fresh-faced Germany were made to work harder than expected in their 3-2 victory over Australia in their Confederations Cup Group B debut on Monday with the world champions’ young squad still adjusting to tournament life.
With half a dozen key players rested this summer ahead of next year’s World Cup title defence in Russia, Germany coach Joachim Loew brought a young team to Russia. The players who made the journey are eager to prove themselves ahead of next year’s World Cup.
Loew’s men would have had a far easier afternoon on the Black Sea were it not for their wasted scoring chances.
“We played a really good first half but after an hour we lost the plot a bit,” Loew told reporters. “But you can still feel the commitment of this young team. They are hungry, they want to win matches, have the courage to play attacking football.”
“For many it was the first game in such a tournament so I am satisfied,” he added.
The Germans were in control from the start and outsprinted their opponents, with Lars Stindl converting a perfectly timed cutback from Julian Brandt to put them ahead in the fifth minute.
They squandered a bagful of chances in a one-sided first half with Leon Goretzka, Sandro Wagner and Julian Brandt all coming close.
They were punished when Tommy Rogic scored out of nowhere, his first off-target shot bouncing off a defender’s back and his rebound slipping in under keeper Bernd Leno.
Their joy lasted only three minutes with the Germans earning a penalty in the 44th and Draxler putting them back in the driving seat.
Goretzka grabbed another in the 48th but the Germans dropped the ball with Leno letting a shot slip out of his hands and Tomi Juric tapping in. Germany were left to rue their poor conversion rate as they also hit the post late in the game.
”First half they were too good for us, and we struggled to get control of the game,“ said Australia coach Ange Postecoglou. ”We made it too easy for them.
“Second half was better. Absolutely I thought we matched it with them for periods of the game and the character and resilience they showed is unquestionable.”
The Germans next play Chile on Thursday while Australia face Cameroon.
Reporting by Karolos Grohmann, editing by Pritha Sarkar