Austria pulled off an unexpected 2-1 win over World Champions Germany in a pre-World Cup friendly international on Saturday.
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Arsenal midfielder Mesut Özil put the Germans ahead early in the game, upon returning from a layoff due to a back injury, before second-half strikes from Martin Hinteregger and Alessandro Schöpf erased the deficit and extended the winless run of the Joachim Löw-managed outfit.
“We played decent football at times in the first half but then we just stopped clicking. We allowed Austria to put in crosses and get shots away. There’s a lot to digest,” Löw said.
Austria goalkeeper Jörg Siebenhandl made a blunder by kicking the ball straight to Özil, who beat the far post in the 11th minute. But the Austrians, who began to show promise after 30 minutes into the first half, managed to draw level after 53 minutes, before sealing the victory with a 69th-minute strike.
The match is Germany’s first defeat against Austria – that did not qualify for the World Cup – in 32 years. However, the result came in the absence of veterans Toni Kroos, Mats Hummels, Jerome Boateng and Thomas Mueller, who were all rested.
”This defeat annoys me. We didn’t execute many things we had planned,” Loew said. ”We lost the ball too many times where we could have created a scoring opportunity. Today many things were bad. We won’t fool ourselves. We have a lot to work on over the next two weeks.”
The German manager was starting Bayern Munich's Manuel Neuer for the first time, since last September when the goalkeeper was sidelined with a broken foot.
”It was a good comeback after such a long time. He had two, three excellent saves,” Loew said about Neuer, who played his 75th international. ”I will talk to Manuel tomorrow. He hasn’t had problems in the match or in training this week.”
The defending champions are favorites to retain the global title, though having not won a match since October. The Germans were 0-3-1, after draws with England, France and Spain and defeat to Brazil, going into the fixture with Austria.
”It’s always great to win, especially against Germany. In the first half we were too passive but in the second half we did much better,” Schoepf said.
Germany will face Mexico in their first game in World Cup Group F – which also includes Sweden and People's Republic of Korea – on June 17, in Moscow, to begin their title defence.
Prior to that engagement, the Europeans will face Saudi Arabia in a second pre-tournament friendly.