An experimental Germany lineup took on Australia in their opening match of the Confederations Cup. The World Champions were without the likes of Manuel Neuer, Thomas Muller and Toni Kroos but still possessed an abundance of talent highlighted by PSG’s Julian Draxler. As for Australia, Ange Postecoglou opted to stick with the system which has drawn much criticism from some fans and the media in recent weeks.
Australia got off to the worst possible start when the conceded after just five minutes. Julian Brandt got in and behind Aziz Behich before cutting the ball back for Lars Stindl. The Borussia Monchengladbach forward, who was undermarked just inside the box fired his shot past the flailing Mat Ryan.
Australia was struggling to retain the ball, putting immense pressure on the defence. Brandt continued to find plenty of joy in the space in behind Behich and Bailey Wright. In the 21st minute, the Bayer Leverkusen winger nearly doubled the lead, with only a strong Ryan save at his near post keeping him out.
Two minutes later, Sandro Wagner was gifted an even bigger chance. Leon Goretzka lobbed the ball over the Australian backline for Wagner who was free in the box and with just Ryan to beat he pushed his shot wide of the right post.
Despite the barrage of German pressure, Australia should have pulled level in the 36th minute. Aaron Mooy swung in a trademark free kick from the left wing, it came to Trent Sainsbury who had beaten the offside trap but from 6 yards out he headed wide of the goal.
Sainsbury was spared his blushes when Tom Rogic dragged Australia back into the match in the 41st minute. The Celtic midfielder drove at the German backline before firing into Shkodran Mustafi, the ball came back to Rogic who lashed another shot that raced under Bernd Leno and into the net. Leno really should have done better, but nevertheless, Australia was level.
Parity was only restored for four minutes with Massimo Luongo making a daft challenge on Goretzka which saw Germany awarded a penalty. Draxler stepped up to the mark before coolly passing it into the right of the net, sending Ryan the wrong way.
Germany went into halftime with a 2-1 lead, perhaps not a fair reflection of their first half dominance.
It only took three second-half minutes for Germany to grab their third. Joshua Kimmich floated a ball into the box for Goretzka to run onto, the Schalke midfielder controlled the ball before blasting it past Ryan. A well-taken goal, but another poor piece of defending with neither Mooy or Milos Degenek picking up Goretzka’s run.
From two goals in arrears, Australia began to earn more time on the ball through harrying the opposition defenders. Rogic was fast becoming the main threat for Australia with his driving runs troubling the Germans, one such run won a foul on the edge of the box in the 58th minute. From the resulting free kick Mooy fired a shot into the wall which came back for Rogic who smacked a shot through the crowded box, the ball took two deflections before coming to Leno who failed to catch it cleanly with Tomi Juric on hand to tap into an empty net. Australia was back in the hunt with Leno a candidate for the worst player on the pitch.
Australia continued to press higher up the field but Germany nearly scored a fourth on the counter-attack in the 75th minute when substitute Timo Werner wiggled past a couple of defenders before striking the bottom of the left post. Three minutes later Australia came close to equalising when Juric held the ball up in the box before laying it off for Robbie Kruse who forced his ex-Bayer Leverkusen teammate Leno into a save low to his left.
Despite Australia continuing to push for the leveller, which included a five-minute cameo from Tim Cahill, the Germans held on to record a 3-2 win. After the match, Postecoglou in an interview with SBS reporter Lucy Zelic admitted Germany were “too good for Australia” in the first half but he was encouraged by the second, “The second half was better… we matched it with them for periods of the game.”
Next up for Australia is a crunch match with Cameroon, a defeat for either side will see them all but knocked out of the tournament. This match kicks off at 1 am on Friday.
Germany’s next match is against Group B leaders Chile, whoever wins this match will be through to the semi-final. This match kicks off at 4 am on Friday.
Australia – 2 (Rogic 41’, Juric 58’)
Germany – 3 (Stindl 5’, Draxler pen 45’, Goretzka 48’)
— SBS – The World Game (@TheWorldGame) June 19, 2017