Following a disappointing 3-2 loss to England, a German National Team increasingly pressed for results hosted a strong Italian side at the Allianz Arena in Munich. Brilliant offensive work by the team's Bayern Munich contingent, Thomas Müller and Mario Götze, and by ex-Bayern man Toni Kroos gave Germany a 2-0 lead that the team expanded to a 4-1 rout.
The teams seemed evenly matched at the outset, with Germany playing possession and Italy searching for opportunities to counter, but as Italy struggled to find an opening, Germany surged forward and overwhelmed the visitors. The first goal of the game caught everyone by surprise: as Germany moved up the field to attack, the ball was played high up the pitch to Thomas Müller lurking in the top right corner. Müller's cross was intercepted by Italy's Bonucci, but his weak clearance rolled right to the feet of Toni Kroos. Kroos wasted no time in shooting the ball into the net from the top of the arc. Germany now dominated possession in Italy's half and ultimately extended its lead to two goals just before halftime, as a beautiful pass from Mesut Özil found Thomas Müller again lurking deep in Italy's territory. Müller fired a perfect cross into the penalty area that was headed in perfectly by none other than 5'9" Mario Götze.
Italy emerged from the locker room in the second half somewhat more aggressive, but Germany continued to control the pitch. Although Italy occasionally harried ter Stegen, Germany soon found yet another opening, as Julian Draxler charged forward. Draxler combined magnificently with Mario Götze to keep the attack alive and win the space to provide an assist for Jonas Hector, who scored his first goal for the German National Team. Germany put the final nail in the coffin on a penalty drawn by Buffon, who snagged Rudy's foot while attempting to clear the ball. Özil coolly shot the ensuing penalty kick into the top left corner. Italy won a consolation goal late in the game off an improbable shot from outside the arc by El Shaarawy that flew right over Marc André ter Stegen's head. By then, though, the match belonged to Germany.
1. While Pep Guardiola has not played Mario Götze since his appearance in Bayern's overwhelming victory over Bremen, despite his return from injury, Jogi Löw has sent a clear signal. Löw, who has spoken out publicly in support of his protegé, gave Götze his first playing time late in Germany's loss to England and then started him for the match today against Italy. Götze did not disappoint: he played an aggressive game today and showed outstanding chemistry with his teammates. He managed to head in a beautiful cross from Thomas Müller to secure Germany's second goal and was instrumental in the build-up to Germany's third goal, delivering a crucial back-heel pass in a one-two play with Julian Draxler. The goal in particular clearly meant the world to Götze. All will be watching how Guardiola reacts after his performance today, particularly amid growing speculation that Götze may leave Bayern Munich.
2. Germany's post-Lahm defensive line remains a work in progress, but the defensive configuration fielded today was sufficient to stave off the attacks of an Italian side that soon slipped behind an insurmountable German lead. Löw appeared to field a back three, with Mats Hummels drifting somewhat awkwardly back and forth between the midfield and the defense, while Rudy drifted consistently up the right to contribute to Germany's offense. The gambit worked - Rudy even drew a penalty - although it must be said that Italy's finishing and offense overall was surprisingly poor. Hummels managed to be on the defensive side of the ball when it counted, and his fellow defenders made few mistakes. Marc-André ter Stegen, however, who stood between the posts in place of the ailing Manuel Neuer, gave supporters fits with his bumbling footwork and poor decision-making.
3. With Bastian Schweinsteiger injured and Manuel Neuer out sick, Thomas Müller celebrated his fiftieth cap for the German National Team as captain and showed that he has what it takes to lead this team. Müller delivered an outstanding game, winning maximum efficiency with minimum effort. By finding space and providing crosses at the right moment, he created the chance for Toni Kroos to score the opening goal and provided the assist for Götze's goal, giving Germany a comfortable 2-0 lead, celebrating humorously with his Bayern teammate afterwards in what must have been an incredible confidence-building moment for Götze. Müller yielded the captain's armband fifteen minutes later to Mats Hummels, but by then his work was done.
Germany (4-1) Italy
Germany: Kroos (24'), Götze (45'), Hector (59'), Özil (75')
Italy: El Shaarawy (83')
Germany: Hummels (57'), Mustafi (77')
Italy: Giaccherini (15')
Germany XI: ter Stegen - Hummels, Mustafi, Rüdiger - Hector (Ginter, 85'), Kroos (Kramer, 90'), Özil, Rudy - Draxler (Volland, 85'), Götze (Marco Reus, 61'), Müller © (Can, 69')
Italy XI: Buffon © - Acerbi, Bonucci (Ranocchia, 61'), Darmian - Giaccherini (El Shaarawy, 69'), Montolivo, Thiago Motta (Parolo, 68'), Florenzi (de Silvestri, 61') - Insigne (Okaka, 68'), Zaza (Antonelli, 78'), Bernardeschi