presented by
International roundup

Goal for Götze, Rafinha’s dream lives on

There are 99 days to go until the World Cup in Brazil. The buildup began in earnest on Wednesday evening with a series of high-quality friendly internationals. Six FCB stars started for Germany, with Philipp Lahm, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Manuel Neuer, Jérôme Boateng, Mario Götze and Toni Kroos celebrating a tight 1–0 victory in Stuttgart against a strong and lively Chile, inspired by Arturo Vidal of Juventus and Alexis Sanchez of Barcelona.

The South Americans caused the home team a number of problems with their energetic pressing game, and Vidal spurned two good chances in the first 25 minutes. But Germany struck ruthlessly on the break, Götze driving home in the 16th minute after pacy approach play by Schweinsteiger and Mesut Özil. Joachim Löw’s team continued to struggle after the break and Chile looked dangerous, but Vargas hit the underside of the bar on the hour.

“It was a lucky win. We have a lot of work to do, and we know it,” commented captain Lahm. Schweinsteiger added: “Chile were very good. They’re not one of the top teams in South America for nothing. We have a few of areas for improvement. It was a good test.“

Elsewhere, a dream came true for Rafinha. Bayern’s right-back started and completed Brazil’s routine 5–0 victory over South Africa at Soccer City Stadium in Johannesburg, winning his second full international cap after a 71-month break. Dante came on as a second-half substitute in place of Chelsea star David Luiz. Oscar, hat-trick man Neymar and Fernandinho scored for the vastly superior Seleçao.

Comebacks for Rib and Shaq

The fixture schedule could have included two all-Bayern head-to-heads, but neither ultimately took place. France beat the Netherlands 2–0 In Paris, but although Franck Ribéry made a comeback from injury in the course of the second half, Arjen Robben was not even in the Dutch squad as he missed the match with bruising sustained in Munich’s meeting with Schalke. “It was better not to take the risk,” said Robben.

Nor did Xherdan Shaqiri and Mario Mandzukic actually cross paths on the field, as Shaq played the first half and Mandzu the second of Switzerland and Croatia’s 2-2 draw in St. Gallen. Like Ribéry, Shaqiri made a first appearance since an injury lay-off. Ex-FCB striker Ivica Olic scored the Croats’ goals, with Nürnberg’s Drmic firing a brace for the Swiss.

Austria and David Alaba hosted Uruguay, with the Bayern man playing in midfield for the full 90 minutes of the 1–1 draw. Marc Janko and Pereira traded goals. Daniel van Buyten also gained match practice with a half for Belgium in a 2–2 draw with Côte d’Ivoire. Fellaini and Nainggolan scored for the home team, Drogba and Gradel for the Africans.

Last but not least Javi Martínez and Thiago both played the whole of Spain’s prestige 1–0 victory over Italy in Madrid. Martínez played at centre-back with Thiago in midfield. The only goal of the evening came from Barcelona’s Pedro.