Germans back on track, Goetze shines

Mario Goetze getting the better of Italy's Matteo Darmian (left) and Alessandro Florenzi to head Germany 2-0 up in Munich. It was the World Cup holders' first win over the Azzurri in 21 years.
Mario Goetze getting the better of Italy's Matteo Darmian (left) and Alessandro Florenzi to head Germany 2-0 up in Munich. It was the World Cup holders' first win over the Azzurri in 21 years. PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

MUNICH • Mario Goetze brushed off a frustrating season on Bayern Munich's bench to score his 17th international goal in Germany's 4-1 thumping of Italy on Tuesday, as the world champions redeemed themselves after their defeat by England.

Goetze, who scored the winner in the 2014 World Cup final, netted Germany's second goal against Italy at Bayern's Allianz Arena in Munich, after Toni Kroos had put the hosts ahead.

Defender Jonas Hector and Arsenal midfielder Mesut Oezil netted in the second half, before replacement Stephan El Shaarawy scored Italy's late consolation goal.

"All in all, we put in a smart performance, defended well and did well in attack," said visibly relieved Germany coach Joachim Loew.

The win, Germany's first over Italy in 21 years, boosts confidence four days after losing 2-3 to England in Berlin.

"Today we saw what happens when when we go out on the pitch with the right mentality," pointed out defender Mats Hummels.

Goetze put himself in the shop window with a goal-scoring performance in his 50th international.

With a year left on his Bayern contract, he is weighing up his options after just four starts this season under Pep Guardiola.

For next season, he has been linked to Liverpool, to work again with Juergen Klopp, or a return to Borussia Dortmund, who Bayern paid €37 million (S$56.6 million) for him in 2013.

Asked about his plans, Goetze, whose contract with Bayern runs out in 2017, remained coy.

"For me it is important to play because that is when I am happy," he said. "Everything else will come by itself and there's no need to talk about that."

Loew was also full of praise for the 23-year-old, saying: "Mario earned this (outstanding performance) himself.

"I can understand why he may be playing less at Bayern because they have a great squad and he was injured for a long time.

"But Mario has worked hard in the past weeks, he did individual training sessions to get back to his best and I hope the game today gave him the self-confidence he needs for the coming weeks."

Germany have pre-Euro 2016 warm-up games against Slovakia and Hungary in the fortnight before their opening Group C game against Ukraine on June 12.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 31, 2016, with the headline 'Germans back on track, Goetze shines'. Print Edition | Subscribe