Germany can go up another gear: low

Rodrigo Moreno scoring Spain's sixth-minute opener past Germany goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen in a 1-1 friendly draw on Friday. The Germans will face another tough test on Tuesday against Brazil, whose coach Tite has said that his team will play "
Rodrigo Moreno scoring Spain's sixth-minute opener past Germany goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen in a 1-1 friendly draw on Friday. The Germans will face another tough test on Tuesday against Brazil, whose coach Tite has said that his team will play "competitive and mentally strong" football.PHOTO: REUTERS

Coach says Spain also as cagey about strategy but high-quality draw gives glimpse of talent

DUSSELDORF (Germany) • Germany head coach Joachim Low revealed that his side have yet to peak ahead of their World Cup title defence as they prepare to face Brazil on Tuesday.

The friendly in Berlin presents Die Mannschaft with an opportunity to strike another psychological blow against their key rivals in Russia, after holding Spain to a 1-1 draw on Friday.

Germany routed the Selecao in their backyard in the 2014 World Cup semi-finals, and Brazil coach Tite, who was not in charge during that clash, knows the significance of their next meeting.

"Now we need to forget the 7-1 defeat at the previous World Cup and to perform with dignity in Berlin," he said following Brazil's 3-0 victory over Russia on Friday.

"We are in a building period and, emotionally, it will be important.

"Against Germany, we will want to play football, to be competitive, mentally strong, and put an idea in play. We are looking to impose our way of playing."

The five-time world champions showed no signs of missing the injured Neymar at Moscow's Luzhniki stadium, where the July 15 World Cup final will be played. Juventus forward Douglas Costa filled in on the left wing where the talisman typically operates.

But it was Inter Milan fullback Miranda who scored the opener. Barcelona midfielders Philippe Coutinho and Paulinho added a goal apiece.

"I believe my team is almost ready for the World Cup," added Tite.

Low knows his men will improve by June 14, when the football bonanza begins. He watched his team stretch their unbeaten run to 22 games on Friday, when Thomas Muller's long-range strike in the 35th minute cancelled out Rodrigo Moreno's opener.

"I thought it was a great test for both teams," he said.

"We can learn a lot from tonight, that's why we wanted to play against teams like Spain and Brazil. You can only truly gauge yourself as a team when you face the best.

"However, we still want to push on and improve. We can go up another gear and I think both teams haven't shown their full hand yet.

"It was a very high-quality game and the fans can be happy with what they've seen tonight.''

Barcelona midfielder Andres Iniesta gave the German midfield a masterclass during the first half.

The 33-year-old outplayed Sami Khedira and Toni Kroos by producing countless silky passes at the heart of Spain's attack.

La Roja coach Julen Lopetegui took the positives from having frustrated the hosts in Dusseldorf, where they enjoyed 55 per cent of the ball.

"I see this match very positively," said the Spaniard, who praised midfielders Thiago Alcantara and Isco for the problems they caused.

"We played with personality, ambition, rigour and confidence."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on March 25, 2018, with the headline 'Germany can go up another gear: low'. Print Edition | Subscribe