Hansi Flick was supposed to make Germany a force at the international level once again. But the results since his hiring were poor, so his sacking earlier this week felt inevitable. And with no time to appoint a replacement, Germany turned to Rudi Voller to lead the side against France in a high-profile international friendly. The result was impressive, with Germany looking a side renewed as they beat the World Cup finalists, 2-1.
Expectations were admittedly low as they hosted an in-form France side. But they opened the contest brimming with confidence and it translated to the scoreboard, with Thomas Muller lashing home from close range after just four minutes. They almost added a second shortly after, as Muller's Bayern Munich teammate Serge Gnabry curled an effort narrowly outside the post.
France had some solid moments in the first half, but were unconvincing in the absence of Kylian Mbappe. Manager Didier Deschamps fielded a far less attacking side than the one that has rolled through France's Euro 2024 qualifying group, and it showed. Randal Kolo Muani, charged with leading the line, was energetic without being effective, and Germany looked good value for their 1-0 lead at the half.
The second period bubbled without exploding. Then, with five minutes remaining, the game came back alive. Leroy Sane started it, running onto Kai Havertz's pass to give Germany a 2-0 lead. Antoine Griezmann, after turning in a poor showing, buried a penalty conceded by a rash challenge from the German goalscorer.
After that, the home side dug in effectively. Antonio Rudiger and Jonathan Tah both made important clearances, and the German midfield suffocated France, who could never really muster a clear chance to equalise as time expired.
There's a long way to go for Die Mannschaft, and they certainly won't be counted among the favourites when they host next year's European championships. But for one promising night, with a familiar face overseeing it all, the good vibes were back.
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