Germany began their UEFA Nations League adventure with a goalless draw against world champions France in Munich’s Allianz Arena. Joachim Löw’s men put in a promising performance in front of the 67,485 spectators who had turned out to see the DFB Team’s first game since the disappointing World Cup in Russia.
Captain Manuel Neuer started between the sticks for Germany, behind a back four of Matthias Ginter, Jerome Boateng, Mats Hummels and Antonio Rüdiger. Joshua Kimmich started at defensive midfield with Leon Goretzka and Toni Kroos in front of him. Thomas Müller, Timo Werner and Marco Reus completed the starting XI as a front three. The DFB Team started with purpose and soon got on the front foot, albeit without creating a clear-cut chance. For the majority of the half, the teams were in deadlock and headed into the changing rooms for half time with no more than a couple of shots on target to reflect on.
Germany continued to try to carve out opportunities in the wider areas but they couldn’t open up the French defence with the crucial final pass. In the 34th minute, for example, Rüdiger nearly got on the end of a dangerous cross from Kroos before Olivier Giroud tested Manuel Neuer with a header at the other end. The captain then parried a Kylian Mbappé free-kick from 20 metres out in the 43rd minute. The last chance of the first half fell to the world champions as a heel flick from Giroud went wide of the goal.
France started the second half as the better side as an Antoine Griezmann shot was saved by Neuer (48’). Timo Werner then tested Areola’s reflexes in the French goal from an acute angle (57’). Neither team could create many clear opportunities in front of goal with much of the game being contested in midfield. The next chance also fell to Griezmann, who attempted a shot from long distance (64’). At the other end, Areola spectacularly denied Reus with a fingertip save around the post (65’).
Both teams started to rely on counter attacks in the closing stages of the match. Germany created a chance on the counter in the 72nd minute but Hummels was denied by Areola. Ilkay Gündogan, who came off the bench to replace Goretzka, then took aim from 16 metres out but his shot was too high (74’).
Die Mannschaft continued to put the French under pressure with a curling shot from Müller and Ginter’s header scraping the edge of Areola’s post (75’). Gündogan also had a shot blocked after an attack down the left from Werner and Reus. Neither team could create any clear cut chances in the final phase of the match.