presented by
Six FCB starters for Löw

Germans hold Italy to draw in Milan

In a prestige friendly international meeting on Friday, Germany battled to a 1-1 draw away to perennially tough opponents Italy. Former FCB youth Mats Hummels converted a Toni Kroos assist to hand Joachim Löw’s team an early lead, but Ignazio Abate equalised after half an hour. Benedikt Höwedes struck the post in stoppage time, one of three German efforts to come back off the goal frame.

At the legendary Giuseppe Meazza stadium in the San Siro district of Milan, Löw started with all six of the Bayern stars in his squad. Manuel Neuer kept goal, with Jérôme Boateng at centre back. Philipp Lahm played alongside Real Madrid’s Sami Khedira in the holding positions, with Thomas Müller and Kroos in attacking midfield. Mario Götze began as a false nine.

The Italians opened briskly with early chances for Mario Balotelli and veteran playmaker Andrea Pirlo. But the team supervised by Löw, celebrating his 100th match as national coach, soon settled to the task and took the lead when Hummels headed an eighth-minute Kroos corner onto the inside of the post and over the line.

Three shots off the woodwork

"You could see both teams wanted to win the match. We dictated the pace of the game in the first half,” said the influential Kroos, reflecting on the 17th-minute shot by Khedira which rebounded to safety off the goal frame. The Italians fought back and struck a not undeserved 28th-minute equaliser through Abate. Germany were again unlucky three minutes later when Chelsea wide man André Schürrle cracked a drive off the crossbar.

The high-profile friendly remained a tight and hard-fought affair in the second half, although chances were now few and far between. Höwedes almost nicked it for the visitors right at the end, but he became the third of Löw’s players denied by the woodwork when his shot rebounded from a post in the second minute of stoppage time. The result means Germany have still not beaten the Squadra Azzurra in the last 18 years.

“We could easily have won it tonight. After all, we hit the post and bar three times,” reflected national captain Lahm, although overall he felt it was a positive evening: “It was a decent performance.”