The German national side bounced back to form with a 3-0 friendly win over Russia ahead of the forthcoming Nations League match against the Netherlands on Monday (20:45 CET). It was the highest win since the 5-1 triumph over Azerbaijan in October 2017. Joachim Löw’s team impressed in the first half with some attacking football and good passing.
Leroy Sané (8’) and Niklas Süle (25’) got their first international goals and Serge Gnabry (40’) added a third before the break. Germany played with less intensity in the second half, with a number of substitutions somewhat slowing the game down.
It was the youngest German side since the Confederations Cup semi-final against Mexico in 2017, with an average age of just 23.9, mainly helped by 19-year-old Kai Havertz making his first start for his country. Joachim Löw also included Thilo Kehrer, Gnabry and Sané who all weren’t part of the World Cup squad. Timo Werner, playing in his home stadium, completed the offensive trio.
Joshua Kimmich, the only Germany player to feature in all twelve games in 2018, started in midfield, as Matthias Ginter, Antonio Rüdiger and Niklas Süle played in a back three, with Thilo Kehrer and Jonas Hector playing as wing-backs. Manuel Neuer captained the side in his 83rd international match.
In front of 35,288 fans in the Red Bull Arena, Germany took their first chance in the game. Kehrer played a fine ball from the middle of the park to Gnabry, who put it on a plate for Sané to make it 1-0 after eight minutes. Gnabry and Werner also had good chances in the next few minutes, with former Schalke defender Roman Neustädter clearing well in the 15th minute.
Russia failed to create much in the first half, as Germany took advantage of the space that the guests allowed them in the first half. Gnabry and Havertz combined in midfield well, but Leroy Sané couldn’t direct his header away from keeper Andrey Lunev.
Two minutes later the Russian was helpless though. Antonio Rüdiger flicked on a corner to Niklas Süle, who was free in the six-yard area and took his chance well to notch up his first ever Germany goal. Hector had a volley narrowly miss the target after 30 minutes, but Germany were back celebrating again ten minutes later.
Havertz played a perfect through ball to Gnabry and the Bayern player immediately took the shot to make it 3-0 after 40 minutes.
At the start of the second half, Germany went through a difficult period as Kimmich gave the ball away just 20 metres away from goal and Rüdiger allowed Aleksey Ionov too much space for a shot. Luckily for the defender, the Russian could only fire his shot wide of Neuer’s goal (49’). Kimmich gave the ball away just six minutes later as Jonas Hector had to clear the ball off his own goal line to prevent a Russian goal.
Löw brought some new faces into the match including Jonathan Tah, who replaced Rüdiger in the 61st minute. Julian Brandt and Sebastian Rudy came on for Werner and Havertz respectively in the 65th minute before Hector had to be withdrawn as he sustained an injury. Nico Schulz came on to replace him (70’).
Gnabry (73’) and Sané (77’) were also applauded off after their strong performances to be replaced by Thomas Müller, who won his 99th Germany cap, and Bayern teammate Leon Goretzka. Müller very nearly scored in the 78th minute as Schulz was able to cross into the box following good work from Brandt and Goretzka. However, Müller was unable to find the target. Brandt created one last chance to make it 4-0 as his shot from the edge of the box was nearly deflected into the back of the net by the Russian defence (88’).###more###