Germany showcased the wondrous reservoir of talent at their disposal at the 2017 Confederations Cup in their Group B game against Australia at the Fisht Olympic Stadium, as they beat the Socceroos 3-2 in an enthralling tie on Monday.
With virtually a second-string squad at his disposal, the fact that Germany manager Joachim Low still had a few selection dilemmas spoke volumes of the strength at the disposal of Die Mannschaft. Low surprisingly chose Bernd Leno over the likes of Kevin Trapp and Marc-Andre ter Stegen and that bold decision backfired spectacularly as the Bayer Leverkusen keeper made two howlers which made the match seem much closer than it really was.
Germany, led by Julian Draxler, were utterly dominant from kick-off and once they took the lead as early as the fifth minute via Lars Stindl. The Borussia Moenchengladbach midfielder got his first-ever goal for Germany after Julian Brandt had set him up nicely and with a brilliant start, the stage was set for the World Cup champions to go on a blitz.
It never came, for Sandro Wagner, chosen in the starting XI ahead of Timo Werner, was wasteful when presented with two gilt-edge chances.
Dominant in possession, Germany were rampant in attack as they carved through Australia’s three-man defence at will but with thanks to some profligacy, were unable to make their domination count.
And Australia, ever persistent, made them pay with a goal out of nowhere. Tom Rogic got lucky after his initial shot rebounded off Shkodran Mustafi into his path and on the second time he made no mistake as his shot went through Leno’s hands in the 41st minute.
Germany were given a chance to restore their lead when Australia panicked and conceded a careless penalty, with captain Draxler stepping up to send Matthew Ryan the wrong way.
With the stage set for German dominance in the second-half, the Australians surprised many with a determined display and despite Die Mannschaft winger Leon Goretzka getting his first-ever goal for the national side in the 48th minute to extend the lead, the Socceroos didn't give up.
Despite the odds firmly in the Germans' favour, Australia got a goal back and once again, had Leno to thank for. Tomi Juric was at hand to tap-in after Leno made a mess of a Rogic shot from outside the box in the 56th minute.
Chances continued to flow for both sides after that, with substitute James Troisi going close to getting an equaliser with a curling effort but Leno was equal to the task, for a change.
Germany sent on Timo Werner for the ineffectual Wagner, and the young RB Leipzig striker was causing Australia all sorts of problems with his pace, almost scoring a fourth goal after a twisting and weaving run but could only manage to hit the post in the 75th minute.
Robbie Kruse, at half-time, had a golden chance to find a dramatic equaliser after a quick breakaway but Leno redeemed himself for his earlier blunders with a smart stop to preserve Germany’s lead.
In the end, Germany held on for a vital three points and they are now second in the group, behind Chile, who beat Cameroon 2-0 on Sunday. Australia are third, ahead of Cameroon by virtue of their superior goal difference.
Australia play Cameroon next in a must-win game for both sides on Thursday, while Chile take on Germany in a clash that will decide the winner of the group later in the day.