National coach Joachim Löw made wholesale changes from the team that drew 2-2 with the Netherlands back in November of last year. RB Leipzig full-back pair Marcel Halstenberg and Lukas Klostermann started at the back, with the latter making his debut for the senior side. Jonathan Tah was the other change in a new-look back four formation, with Niklas Süle the only player to retain his place. Joshua Kimmich and İlkay Gündoğan played in the holding midfield spots, freeing up Kai Havertz, Julian Brandt, Leroy Sané and Timo Werner to push forward as an attacking front four.
Germany started on the front foot, looking to get an early goal. Lukas Klostermann had a good chance to score just a minute into his senior international debut, but his shot from outside the box went wide of the target. Despite Germany having more of the ball, it was Serbia who took an early lead. Adem Ljajic’s shot in the box was blocked for a corner, and from the resulting set-piece, it was striker Luka Jovic who headed in unmarked in front of goal.
After taking the lead, the visitors sat deep and looked to break on the counter. This nearly paid off in the 25th minute when Serbia drove up the field, finding themselves in a 2v2 situation, but Luka Jovic’s shot was well-blocked by Lukas Klostermann in defence. Klostermann then found himself in action at the opposite end of the pitch 10 minutes later, whipping in a dangerous cross that deflected into the path of club teammate Werner, but the Germany frontman’s shot was brilliantly saved by Serbia’s custodian Marko Dmitrović. The hosts found themselves a goal down at the half-time whistle.
Coach Löw made two substitutions at half-time, with Marc-André ter Stegen replacing Manuel Neuer in net, and Marco Reus coming on for Kai Havertz. Reus nearly made an instant impact, whipping in an enticing ball from the left flank into the box, but no-one in a Germany shirt was able to get on the end of his delivery. Serbia’s front three, meanwhile, continued to offer a constant attacking threat, as Lazovic again found himself free to shoot in front of goal, but his shot looped over the bar.
Reus had Germany’s first clear chance of the half in the 58th minute. Controlling the ball from a header, the Dortmund winger shimmied past his marker and rifled a shot at Dmitrovic, but Serbia’s keeper parried the ball away with a strong hand. A few minutes later, Reus turned creator, playing a defensive-splitting ball to Marcel Halstenberg on the left flank. The full-back’s cross reached Leroy Sané in the middle, but his shot was again smothered by a vigilant Dmitrovic. Ilkay Gündoğan also had a great chance to put Germany ahead, rounding the keeper and shooting at goal, but his shot was somehow cleared off the line.
Germany continued to up the ante as the second half went on, and were finally rewarded for their efforts in the 69th minute. Substitute Leon Goretzka picked up the ball outside the middle of the eighteen yard box, and struck a delightful shot that flew into the back of the net, finally breaking down a resilient Serbian backline. Germany pressed on and looked for a winner, with Leroy Sané twice cutting inside and shooting from the right flank, but both of his efforts were well-saved. The match increased in intensity as both sides searched for a winner, but ended on a sour note with Milan Pavkov receiving a straight red card after a late tackle on Sané.