The defending world champions will head to the World Cup in Russia off the back of a win. Joachim Löw’s side beat Saudi Arabia 2-1 in Leverkusen on Friday night, bouncing back from a 2-1 defeat to Austria last Saturday. Timo Werner’s strike and an Omar Hawsawi own goal had Die Mannschaft two goals ahead at the break, when Manuel Neuer was replaced in goal by Marc-André ter Stegen. The Barcelona keeper was able to save a second-half penalty from Mohammad Al-Sahlawi, but Taisir Al-Jassim followed up the rebound to halve the deficit and ultimately round off the scoring.
Germany poured forward in the early stages and almost went ahead inside five minutes through Mats Hummels, but the flag went up against the Bayern München defender. The fans inside Leverkusen’s BayArena didn’t have to wait long for the opener though. Joshua Kimmich’s long ball was perfect for Marco Reus to lay-off first time to Timo Werner, who volleyed home in the eighth minute for his eighth international goal. Germany continued to dominate after taking the lead, and Reus almost scored himself, only to be denied by the post.
Saudi Arabia, who will play hosts Russia in the opening World Cup game on Thursday, soon began to adjust to Germany’s play, catching Julian Draxler & Co. offside on a number of occasions. The underdogs also began to carry more of a threat on the counter as the game went on and it required a superb last-ditch tackle from Mats Hummels to deny Fahad Al-Muwallad an equaliser around the half-hour mark.
The game was becoming more open now, albeit with Germany having the better chances. Werner came close and Sami Khedira also struck the woodwork, before Löw’s men were given a helping hand by Omar Hawsawi, who turned Werner’s cross into his own net with Thomas Müller also attacking the ball.
After the half-time break, Germany once again dominated proceedings. After nice work from Jonas Hector, Draxler failed to beat Saudi Arabia goalkeeper Abdullah Al-Mayouf from close range. Minutes later, Werner couldn't connect from a dangerous Kimmich cross. Al-Mayouf was called into action again to prevent Müller and the newly-introduced Ilkay Gündogan from extending Die Mannschaft’s lead.
However, after that period of goalkeeping heroics, Saudi Arabia went on the attack themselves, although Salem Al-Dawsari failed to convert past ter Stegen on the hour mark. Germany’s chances became fewer and further apart, with only Müller testing Al-Mayouf in the 73rd minute.
The closing stages saw the game regain some long lost tension. After Khedira brought down Al-Jassim in his own penalty area, referee Slavko Vincic pointed to the spot and awarded the visitors a penalty kick. Mohammad Al-Sahlawi stepped up and saw his effort saved by ter Stegen who parried the effort but was powerless to stop Al-Jassim’s rebounded strike. In added time, Al-Jassim and Al-Sahlawi had a golden chance to equalise but failed to capitalise.
Löw chose a far from experimental starting XI against Saudi Arabia. Neuer was in goal behind a back four of Kimmich, Hummels, Boateng and Hector. In midfield, Khedira, Kroos, Müller, Reus and Draxler lined up with Timo Werner in attack. At half-time, Neuer and Boateng were replaced by Süle and ter Stegen. Later on, Gündogan, Mario Gomez, Julian Brandt and Matthias Ginter all came onto the pitch.