World champions Germany started their Confederations Cup campaign in Group B action against Australia on Monday.
The Socceroos qualified for the tournament paradoxically as champions of Asia. They hosted and won the last Asian Cup, after having played on the continent to the north of them since after the 2006 World Cup.
The Germans are resting their stars during this tournament and averaging the competitions’ youngest squad. The roster is not even completely filled, given Leroy Sané’s declining to join the team, Diego Demme’s injury and coach Joachim Löw’s refusal to call up replacements for those players.
Yet, the internationally relatively inexperienced team was able to put its undeniable talent on display, especially offensively and in the first half more so than in the second.
Lars Stindl gave the World Cup winners the early lead and Germany controlled the game for much of the first 45 minutes. They had far more possession and chances.
Meanwhile, Australia had two opportunities on goal during that time. One of them came to be as a result of a harmless Thomas Rogic shot being blocked by Shkodran Mustafi. The former put in the rebound for Australia’s equalizer shortly before halftime, 1-1!
But the teams did not go into the locker room on level terms. Leon Goretzka was fouled in the penalty area and captain Julian Draxler coolly made it 2-1 from the spot.
The Germans started the second half as strongly as they had finished the first. This time it was Goretzka himself who scored to give his team the 3-1 lead.
But Australia would not go away. Tomi Juric scored their second, soon after Germany’s third. The Video Assistant Referees determined controversially that the assist was not a handball.
As much as I welcome the VAR system, the handball rule today has to be changed, as it has become a subjective decision of what constitutes a punishable handball.
In any case, the Socceroos dominated the game from that point on, without pressuring the German defense too much.
The game therefore ended 3-2 to Germany.