Germany shows its youth at Confederations Cup, beats Australia anyway

Captain Julian Draxler, just 23 years old, helped lead a young German side to a win over Australia. (Getty)

Germany brought an incredibly young group to Russia for the Confederations Cup.

It sure looked young in its opening match. It also looked as talented and ultimately victorious as you’d expect a German side to be.

The reigning World Cup champions scored quick goals in each half and turned back Australia 3-2 in Sochi to move into a tie atop Group B with Chile.

German manager Joachim Löw gave a lot of his top players the summer off in favor of developing prospects that could fill out next summer’s robust World Cup squad. The average age of Germany’s starting lineup on Monday was only 22 and a half years old, and the two oldest starters, Lars Stindl and Sandro Wagner, only had a couple caps to each of their names.

Stindl put Germany ahead inside of five minutes, striking a cut-back ball from Julian Brandt first time to beat Australian keeper Maty Ryan:


For as well as the Germans started, the inexperience reared its ugly head in the 41st minute, when the defense seemingly shut off and allowed Tomas Rogic two relatively uncontested shots from the top of the box:


The Australians’ enthusiasm was short-lived as Massimo Luongo brought down Germany’s Leon Goretzka in the box, and 23-year-old captain Julian Draxler calmly buried the penalty kick to re-establish the lead shortly before halftime.

Goretzka effectively put the game out of reach two minutes into the second half, tracking down a nice through-ball by Joshua Kimmich and punching it past Ryan:


Tomi Juric pulled one back in the 56th minute when German keeper Bernd Leno bumbled a deflected ball into Juric’s path, although replays raised questions of whether the ball deflected off the Australian striker’s arm before he scored.

Still, the Germans earned the three points they were expected to earn, and at times the brilliant runs from deep and expert passing resembled the rebooted program’s World Cup-winning side of three summers ago.

Australia isn’t exactly a slouch, having already advanced to the final round of Asian World Cup qualifying, but it’s also not a team a fully functioning Germany should have trouble dealing with.

And that’s OK, because this isn’t a fully functioning Germany. Manuel Neuer is the undisputed No. 1 goalkeeper, while Mats Hummels and Jerome Boateng will almost surely be the first-choice center back pairing in a year’s time. Toni Kroos and Sami Khedira will anchor the midfield engine, and the attack will likely run through the likes of Thomas Muller, Mesut Ozil and others.

Some of the names from Monday will be in the squad too, and may even play big roles. Germany is blessed with a ludicrously deep pool of players, and probably has enough talent to form at least two 23-man squads that could qualify for the World Cup out of Europe.

Whether or not it’s good enough to win the Confederations Cup, that will be revealed over the next two weeks.

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