Low savours 'good signal'

Serbia striker Milan Pavkov was sent off in stoppage time for this tackle on Germany's Leroy Sane during Wednesday's international friendly at the Volkswagen Arena which ended 1-1. Germany coach Joachim Low said the Manchester City winger's injury wa
Serbia striker Milan Pavkov was sent off in stoppage time for this tackle on Germany's Leroy Sane during Wednesday's international friendly at the Volkswagen Arena which ended 1-1. Germany coach Joachim Low said the Manchester City winger's injury was not too serious and he would be fit for their opening Euro 2020 Group C qualifier against the Netherlands on Sunday.PHOTO: DPA

New-look side faster and more aggressive as Germans warm up for qualifier against Dutch

WOLFSBURG • Germany coach Joachim Low was pleased with the "learning experience" his new-look, young team have gained after making a promising return to the international stage with a 1-1 friendly draw with Serbia on Wednesday.

The Germans, knocked out of last year's World Cup in the group stage and relegated in the Nations League, had only one player (goalkeeper Manuel Neuer) from their 2014 World Cup win in their starting line-up as they look to rebuild and improve after a disastrous 2018.

Substitute Leon Goretzka scored the equaliser in the 69th minute at the Volkswagen Arena in Wolfsburg after in-form youngster Luka Jovic had headed the Serbs ahead in the 12th.

"In the first half, the automation in this new team, playing together for the first time, did not function that well," said Low.

"But, in the second half, the team sent a very good signal that we can increase pressure and we can increase the tempo.

"We had a lot of chances and we missed the final touch a bit. That is also part of the learning experience. Overall, I am very satisfied with the mentality, the pressure we created."

It was a totally new side as Low sent world champions Mats Hummels, Jerome Boateng and Thomas Muller into international retirement in a surprise decision last week as his team prepare to launch their Euro 2020 qualification campaign against the Netherlands in Group C on Sunday.

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    Germany's draw with Serbia means that they have clinched just two wins in seven matches since the 2018 World Cup.

With Kai Havertz, Julian Brandt and Leroy Sane playing behind forward Timo Werner, the hosts were more aggressive and quicker than in recent games and needed only three minutes to get a shot on target.

Serbia went ahead after 12 minutes as their first corner bounced off the back of two players to land perfectly for Jovic to head in his first international goal.

Germany were vulnerable in the first half but raised their game after the break, although they wasted several chances and were frustrated by goalkeeper Marko Dmitrovic.

But they kept their foot firmly on the gas and were rewarded when Goretzka clinched the vital goal with a shot at the edge of the box.

Serbia were left with 10 players in stoppage time when Milan Pavkov was sent off for a reckless challenge on Sane.

The Manchester City winger was taken off, but Low said his injury was not too serious and he would be fit for Sunday.

"It was a vicious foul. Sane was lucky and got away with not getting hurt, but such fouls can break bones," he said.

Sane also confirmed that he was not badly injured and that the tackle "looked worse than it was".

Germany will need an even bigger effort on Sunday with a tricky match at big rivals Netherlands. Serbia also play their first qualifier that day, at title holders Portugal.

"The Netherlands have had a good development and will be a different kind of test for us," Low added.

REUTERS, DPA

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 22, 2019, with the headline 'Low savours 'good signal''. Print Edition | Subscribe