As France rolled into the Westfalenstadion, it prepared to play a friendly against a Germany side in flux. Fresh off a 4-1 thrashing at the hands of Japan, Germany sacked Hansi Flick. A familiar face in Rudi Voller stepped in. The manager last sat atop German soccer from 2000 to 2004. He led Germany to the World Cup Final in 2002. However, Voller departed after Germany suffered a group-stage exit at Euro 2004.

Germany has already qualified for Euro 2024 as hosts. Yet, these games against strong opposition are crucial for a side devoid of success. Germany last won on March 25 against Peru. Since then, it has played five games. It drew against Ukraine but lost to Japan, Colombia, Belgium and Poland. The hosts had their fair share of critics entering this friendly against France.

Germany gets back on track in friendly against France

Germany answered those critics early on against France. A surging attack down the left side led to a cross that fell to Thomas Muller. Muller, the elder statesman among Die Mannschaft, cannoned the ball into the back of Mike Maignan’s net. For the next few minutes, Germany had the majority of the chances. Serge Gnabry blazed a shot just wide of Maignan’s net. Muller also had another attempt, but the advantage remained just one.

In the 25th minute, Barcelona midfielder Ilkay Gundogan exited the game with an injury. This left a hole in the German defense, and the game quickly pivoted. France dominated the second portion of the first 45. Aurlien Tchouameni and Randal Kolo Muani mustered several chances. German goalkeeper Marc Andre ter Stegen was never tested to his best ability. However, the pitch certainly leaned toward the German netminder.

Second half

France carried that momentum into the early portion of the second half. Tchouameni again fired a shot toward ter Stegen in goal. The Barcelona goalkeeper reacted well to guide the ball wide of the net. Kolo Muani was the first to the rebound. However, the PSG forward slipped on the wet field, and the chance went away.

Ter Stegen again answered the bell in the 84th minute. Antoine Griezmann lashed a left-footed shot toward the German net. The goalkeeper launched in the air to parry it over the crossbar and preserve his clean sheet. The 10 players in front of him rewarded the goalkeeper with an insurance goal not long after.

In the 87th minute, Jean-Clair Todibo sloppily gave the ball away in the middle of the park. Kai Havertz pounced on the loose ball and carried it forward. He slotted the ball through to Leroy Sané, and he guided the ball beyond Maignan.

Sané went from hero to villain in just two minutes, as the Bayern Munich winger gave away a penalty. He clumsily tripped Eduardo Camavinga in the penalty box. Griezmann broke ter Stegen’s shutout with a well-placed penalty to ter Stegen’s left-hand side. However, Sané’s late goal was enough to get Germany over the line.

PHOTO: IMAGO / Uwe Kraft