Germany’s preparations for the 2018 FIFA World Cup took a blow as they were beaten by neighbours Austria in the first of two warm-up matches.
Meust Özil’s well taken strike gave them the lead early on, with play getting underway nearly two hours late due to heavy rain dealying kick-off.
Austria took the game to them in the second half though, with Martin Hinteregger’s volley levelling things up before Alessandro Schöpf scored the winner to secure their first victory over Austria since 1986.
Özil gives Germany good start after Siebenhandl mistake
A torrential downpour in Klagenfurt had put the game into considerable doubt, however once the rain stopped it didn’t take long to drain and they were eventually able to kick-off an hour and 45 minutes after the original kick-off time. The big news for Germany was Manuel Neuer starting his first game since September, whilst Nils Petersen made an ultimately ineffectual debut up front. There were five German-based players in the Austria side, including Bayern Munich’s David Alaba.
Austria started brightly but quickly faded, with Ilkay Gündogan starting to pull the strings before Özil put them ahead after ten minutes. The hosts’ attempted at playing out from the back were failing miserable, with goalkeeper Jörg Siebenhandl in the end giving the ball straight to Özil. The Arsenal man delightfully placed it over him in response – Siebenhandl got a touch, but it wasn’t enough, and the world champions led.
The hosts recovered to test Neuer. A rusty-looking clearance from him fell straight to Schöpf, however he did well to take the shot from the Schalke 04 winger. Schöpf had another shot soon after, which took a deflection, and again Neuer could claim. In between, a weak shot from Özil caused little concern for Siebenhandl, whilst Julian Brandt had a good opportunity but the keeper got a touch to send it wide.
Otherwise Germany went about their play without urgency, whilst their neighbours waited patiently for the chances to put pressure on them. A spell-binding run from Leroy Sané resulted in nothing, whilst he also put a free-kick over the bar. Florian Grillitsch then brought Neuer back into play as he turned his shot wide, before sparing the blushes of Kimmich, who unwisely passed to Schöpf, with Neuer beating Marco Arnautovic to the cross.
Austria overrun lazy Germany to claim significant win
One good Germany move aside, the Austrians started the second half a lot quicker. After substitute Sebastian Rudy was caught in possession, his Bayern colleague Alaba charged forward but struck over. Another dodgy pass from Kimmich then ultimately led to a corner. Alaba found a completely unmarked Hinteregger on the far side of the post, and the defender hit the goal of his life, volleying in and leaving Neuer with no chance.
Die Mannschaft were completely off their game. They could have gone ahead shortly after that goal, as Alaba did well to hold up Kimmich after getting on the end of a long ball. He then managed to find Arnautovic, with his shot coming off Neuer’s arm. Peter Zulj also had a shot go wide, with Germany creating little.
Joachim Löw responded by bringing on Timo Werner and Marco Reus, yet before they could have an impact Germany went behind. Julian Baumgartlinger’s ball into the box was cut back by Stefan Lainer to Schöpf, who capped a strong showing with an excellent strike into the back of the net.
They hadn’t beaten Germany in the previous ten meetings, and Germany did little after going behind to prevent them from ending that run. Werner perhaps came the closest when his header on Reus’s free-kick was saved by Siebenhandl, whilst Mario Gómez had a shot deflected wide. A good interception from Rudy prevented a Zulj cross from finding Austrian substitute Guido Burgstaller, a goal that would have given the home crowd further joy.
They were soon celebrating a first win over the Germans in 32 years though. As for Germany, who were guilty of coasting through the second half, they will need to move up the gears better once the real stuff begins. That is what they tend to do though.