DFB players at the wheel: Wiese proves best driver

Sven Bender (front) and Marcel Schmelzer formed a driving team during the German national team’s safety training at Grevenbroich. (Photo: GES/Augenklick)

The bus drove the 25 kilometres from the chic Hyatt Hotel in the Dusseldorf Media Harbour to Grevenbroich, and a motor racing course. The German internationals then sped round the course in brand new Mercedes SLK 350 Roadsters. This training day at the ADAC safe driving centre, before the friendly against Australia, was called a “driving experience”. The cars encountered a wet course, then drifted and skidded through corners until some had had enough. “Sven Bender was at the wheel. I was shaken all over the place”, said Marcel Schmelzer after the wild rally with his Dortmund team-mate. But of course on the whole everything went smoothly. Tim Wiese proved the best driver. The following day the Bremen goalkeeper was between the posts for the national team and was less successful. After the friendly against Australia just one German was happy at Borussia Park Stadium, Moenchengladbach.

Mats Hummels (right) and Andre Schuerrle battle through a water obstacle during the German national team’s safety training at Grevenbroich. (Photo: GES/Augenklick)

“I still haven’t got a beer”, complained Holger Osieck. Shortly afterwards he got what he wanted. The 62-year-old had achieved a very special personal triumph, just 40 kilometres from his birthplace at Duisburg. To have led Australia to a 2-1 (0-1) win over the German national team made Osieck proud. “Questions of whether the victory was deserved? I’m fed up with hearing such old chestnuts”, said Osieck. He wasn’t in the mood for an argument about whether the winning goal had been scored from an unjustified penalty. The former assistant to then DFB team manager Franz Beckenbauer, who was part of the staff when Germany won the 1990 World Cup, didn’t want to have the great success talked down. “I am highly pleased that I could contribute a bit to this great day for Australian football. My personal score against Germany is now 1-1”, Osieck disclosed. In 2003 he had lost 4-1 to the DFB selection with Canada in Wolfsburg.

Coach Holger Osieck, who won the World Cup with Germany as Beckenbauer’s assistant, celebrated an Australian victory over Germany. (Photo: Firo/Augenklick)

Germans fail with friendlies, but superior in the EURO qualifying race

The Australians, with a few hundred supporters and two dozen media representatives, rejoiced at the 2-1win as if it was a once-in-a-hundred-years event. It didn’t matter to them that their opponents had sent on a B team; they considered the victory a fantastic revenge for the 4-0 defeat at the start of the 2010 World Cup in Durban. National coach Joachim Loew was faced with the sobering thought, after the first defeat in the 10th match since the World Cup semi-final, that his team suffered from “Friendly Failure”, as the German tabloid Bild-Zeitung wrote. For not one of the friendly matches since South Africa was won: 2-2 against Denmark, 0-0 against Sweden, 1-1 against Italy and now the 2-1 loss to Australia – and each time the European runners-up fulfilled criticised obligations, although Loew had contrary views before each encounter.

The qualification for the 2012 European Championship is running much better. The German Football Association, DFB, team achieved their fifth win in the fifth EURO qualifier with a 4-0 (3-0) over Kazakhstan in Kaiserslautern on March 26. With 15 points, and an advantage of five and more points over their pursuers Belgium, Turkey and Austria they have the opportunity to ensure participation in the finals early in June when they meet Austria in Vienna (June 3) and Azerbaijan in Baku (June 7). A crowd of 47,984 at the sold-out Fritz Walter Stadium saw two goals from Miroslav Klose, who returned to his home territory for this match.

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Prior to his 33rd birthday in June Klose now has 61 goals and 108 caps to his international record. The striker, who rarely plays in the FC Bayern Munich team nowadays, has already scored eight goals in the current European Championship qualification. Another eight goals and he will have surpassed Gerd Mueller (68 goals, 64 caps) as the best scorer for the national team. “My aim now is to achieve this top position”, said Klose, “but Gerd, the bomber, will always remain unique with his contribution”. Klose and Mueller sometimes meet in Munich at FC Bayern and chat.  Mueller and the national team remain a perennial topic. Thomas Mueller scored the other two against Kazakhstan (135th in the World Ranking), with both laid on by the top form Mesut Oezil of Real Madrid.

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Miroslav Klose enjoyed being cheered after scoring during the 4-0 win over Kazakhstan. His aim is to gain top position in the national team’s all-time scorer’s list. (Photo: GES/Augenklick)

At some stages during the game, however, there was an unexpected frosty atmosphere in Kaiserslautern. Some spectators blamed Bastian Schweinsteiger for the loss of quality in the German performance in the second half. Loud catcalls and jeers were heard around the 75th minute when the Munich player made several bad passes. “I don’t fully understand the spectators. It was a curious atmosphere”, said Schweinsteiger. “We won 4-0. What do people expect? That we win 10-0? They should not get carried away”. Loew reprimanded the crowds: “I think that’s very negative. Bastian Schweinsteiger certainly has the right to perform below par at least once. He is an irreplaceable player in German football”.

Prior to the friendly in Moenchengladbach there was considerable discussion as to whether this match was necessary. In front of 30,150 spectators the home team lost with just three players -- Schweinsteiger, Lukas Podolski and Mueller -- who had been in the starting line-up three days earlier in Kaiserslautern. This B team was duly beaten for the first time since the World Cup because they lost concentration after one hour. Dortmund’s Sven Bender made his debut, and Mainz’s Andre Schuerrle was in the starting eleven for the first time. Loew stated that such test friendlies were essential for the development of his team and the young players.