Germany 1-1 Serbia: Report, Ratings & Reaction as Die Mannschaft Labour to Home Draw in Friendly

A new look Germany side could only manage a 1-1 friendly draw with an equally changed Serbia side on Wednesday in their last match before the start of their Euro 2020 qualifying campaign.

After a tepid opening 12 minutes it was the visitors who struck first through in form striker Luka Jovic. Adem Ljajic’s corner was deflected through to the unmarked Eintracht Frankfurt striker who nodded past Manuel Neuer to hand Serbia a surprise lead.

​​Jovic and Timo Werner were both denied before a superb save by Marko Dmitrovic stopped the RB Leipzig forward’s goal-bound shot. However, just as Dmitrovic’s save was excellent, Ljajic’s miss shortly after was awful, the Serbian winger firing high above the goal after some fine build up play from the visitors.

An improved Germany emerged after the break with the introduction of ​Marco Reus, with chances falling to ​Manchester City duo ​Leroy Sane and Ilkay Gundogan – the latter having an effort cleared off the line. The equaliser Germany’s dominance deserved came with 21 minutes remaining when Leroy Goretzka skipped a challenge and fired empathically past Dmitrovic.

​​It was pure German dominance from thereon in, as a vastly improved second half showing from Joachim Low’s men materialised, yet they were unable to find a late winner against a stubborn Serbia, who saw Milan Pavkov sent off in added time for a horrific late challenge on Sane.


GERMANY

Key Talking Point

Low made it clear, after the dust had settled on Germany’s disastrous World Cup campaign, that going forward it would be a transformed national side going forward. The likes of Jerome Boateng, Mats Hummels and Thomas Muller would no longer feature in the international fold and thus the plethora of German youth talent would get their chance – only three of the World Cup squad retaining their place for Wednesday night’s team.

Joachim Loew

The friendly provided Low with the best opportunity to test his experimental team before Euro 2020 qualification began, yet what he saw in the first half will have worried both him and German supporters. They were cut apart by a slick Serbia side and looked more than suspect at the back. Werner was brilliantly denied an equaliser but Die Mannschaft were fortunate to be behind by just one goal at half time.

There was an improvement after the break as Reus was brought on for the hosts but it is clear to see that Germany are most definitely in the teething stages of their rebuilding. They deservedly drew level and on numerous occasions came close to finding a winner, as Low watched on at a classic ‘game of two halves’.

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Player Ratings

Starting XI: Neuer (6); Klostermann (7), Sah (5), Sule (6), Halstenburg (6); Kimmich (6), Gundogan (6), Brandt (5), Havertz (6), Sane (6); Werner (6).

Substitutes: Ter Stegen (6), Reus (7), Goretzka (7), Kehrer (N/A).


STAR MAN – Lukas Klostermann was the only debutant in the German side on Wednesday night but was the shining light in a below par performance from Low’s men. 

He was involved in everything good his side did on the night and showed endless energy bombing up and down from his right back position.

Lukas Klostermann

The experimental side put out at the Volkswagen Arena is unquestionably a work in progress, but the RB Leipzig player will have offered his manager a good insight into where he wants to take this team moving forward.


SERBIA

Key Talking Point

Mladen Krstajic’s side underperformed last year after they were eliminated from the 2018 World Cup in the group stages in another disappointing international tournament.

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They had their chance to show improvement against a much changed German side and could consider themselves unlucky to head into half time just one goal in front. The Eagles spurned some excellent opportunities to extend their lead and ultimately paid the price as a resurgent Mannschaft side emerged after the break.

A run out against top opposition should prepare Serbia for a daunting trip to Portugal to face ​Cristiano Ronaldo and co in their opening Euro 2020 qualifier – as there were certainly positives to take from Wednesday’s clash.


Player Ratings

Starting XI: Dmitrovic (8); Bogosavac (7), Milenkovic (7), Spajic (7), Rukavina (8); Maksimovic (8), Ljajic (8), Gacinovic (6), Milinkovic-Savic (7), Lazovic (7); Jovic (7)

Substitutes: Radonjic (6), Lukic (5), Mitrovic (6), Zivkovic (N/A), Jovicic (N/A), Pavkov (-5).


STAR MAN – Particularly in the first half, Ljajic showed more than a glimpse of his talent with a collection of tricks and skills, as the winger oozed confidence on the left wing.

Serbia v Montenegro - UEFA Nations League C

His link up play with his fellow midfielders was excellent in the first half, yet he should have put his side two goals to the good only to sky an effort over the bar when played through one on one. As Germany dominated the second half, the on-loan Besiktas forward struggled to make an impact as his side’s goalkeeper played the starring role, however his contribution was solid.


Looking Ahead

​Germany kick off their Euro 2020 qualifying campaign with a tough trip away to a resurgent Netherlands side on Sunday.

Meanwhile Serbia have an equally daunting task facing them as they travel to Portugal in their first match of the Euro 2020 qualifying

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Matt Doherty Confident Wolves Can Win FA Cup Despite Manchester City Threat

Wolves wing back Matt Doherty says he has his eyes set on going all the way in the FA Cup this year following his side’s impressive 2-1 victory over Manchester United in the quarter final.

Although fancied by many coming into this season, newly-promoted Wolves have still surprised fans with how well they have adapted to life in the Premier League. 

They find themselves sat in seventh place and have booked their spot at Wembley for a cup semi-final in what is as good a season as any team outside the ‘big six’ can reasonably expect.

Victor Lindelof,Matt Doherty

Despite the threat that Manchester City pose, Doherty remained positive about ​Wolves’ chances of cup glory this season. 

Asked by the ​Daily Mail if his side can win the competition, the defender said: “Yes, of course. I know ​Manchester City are still in there, but we have managed to avoid them. I know they’ll be favourites, but we have drawn with them this season.

“I know they beat us at the Etihad, but in the semi-final, it’s a 50-50, one-off, anything is possible and we have got a good team, so yes, we’re capable of doing it.”

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In order to reach the final, Wolves will first have to overcome the challenge of ​Watford, whom they have lost to once already this season. 

Nevertheless, the Irishman was confident of the club’s chances of making it through, adding: “Our record against the top six teams is pretty good and we were at home at Molineux, so we actually expected to win the game and fortunately we did win the game.

“Now we have got a big semi-final to look forward to and we’ll expect to win that too.”

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Man Utd ‘Confident’ of Signing Borussia Dortmund’s Jadon Sancho This Summer in £80m Raid

​Manchester United are thought to be increasingly confident about their chances of landing Borussia Dortmund starlet Jadon Sancho this summer, with an £80m bid likely to secure his services.

The England international has rapidly become one of the most exciting young talents in European football, and has exploded onto the Bundesliga scene with BVB this season, providing 13 goals and nine assists in all competitions. Sancho joined the club from Manchester City in 2017, arriving for a bargain £8m.


According to the Evening Standard, ​United are eager to land the prodigious talent when the summer transfer window opens, and have been buoyed by the knowledge that ​City failed to insert a ‘No United’ clause in his contract – a feature they insisted be in Brahim Díaz’s contract when he joined ​Real Madrid last month.

The report notes that ​Dortmund have been bullish in their refusal to entertain offers for Sancho, but claims an offer in excess of £80m should be enough to see them weaken their resolve. City are thought to have a buy-back option, but are said to be unlikely to use it, given Pep Guardiola’s opinion that the player shirked the challenge of earning his place at the club.

Jado Sancho

After falling behind City and ​Liverpool in the title race this season, United will be desperate to re-assert themselves as one of the ​Premier League‘s most feared sides. Signing Sancho would be an impressive statement of intent, and the player looks capable of thriving in the English top tier for years to come.

Meanwhile, United midfielder ​Paul Pogba has revealed he’s hoping current caretaker boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is given the manager’s job on a permanent basis in the summer. He has also claimed the side struggled under former boss José Mourinho due to a lack of confidence and morale among the squad towards the end of his tenure.

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Why Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s Start at Manchester United Isn’t as Impressive as it Seems

​Manchester United have been transformed since Ole Gunnar Solskjær was drafted in to replace the tetchy Jose Mourinho in December, rediscovering their identity and looking full of confidence under the Norwegian.

However, United’s excellent run of results under his tutelage has masked some sub-par performances from both individual players and the team as a whole. Such inadequacies have been exposed in their last two fixtures, a 2-0 defeat by Arsenal and a shock FA Cup exit at the hands of Wolves. 

Juan Mata,Andreas Pereira

To understand why Solskjær’s time at the helm is not quite what it seems, one must first look at the club’s situation when he arrived. ​The Red Devils were in turmoil, languishing 11 points off of the ​Premier League top four having endured a number of humbling defeats. They had also been unceremoniously dumped out of the League Cup in September by ​Championship outfit ​Derby County.

Compared to events preceding his interim appointment, almost anything that Solskjær achieved would have appeared impressive. It is difficult to overstate quite how dire United’s season had been, with the atmosphere at Old Trafford distinctly sour under Mourinho.

In that darkness, the ​Champions League winner offered something wholly different. He offered positivity, he offered kindness and he offered a chance for players to play without fear. These are arguably his finest qualities, characteristics that endeared him to the Old Trafford faithful. They were what United desperately needed, but they are not enough to cover the cracks in the walls and they are not a long-term fix.

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For all of these wonderful traits, Solskjær has demonstrated a tactical naivety at times. One of the foremost examples of this came, somewhat perplexingly, during his finest hour in charge thus far. 

The stunning victory at the Parc des Princes – where United turned around a two-goal first leg deficit to beat Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League last-16 – will live long in the memory of supporters, yet the display that night was average. In fact, it was poor.

The visitors were outclassed by their French opponents in almost every aspect of the game, except, of course, when it came to scoring. United were afforded just 28% of possession that night, had no corner kicks and conceded three times as many shots as their hosts. The hype around the club would have you believe that they are, once again, one of Europe’s best, but that display contradicted any such suggestions. 

Those damning statistics are compounded by the manner of the side’s triumph. Their first two scores were hugely fortuitous, coming directly from awful mistakes by their opponents. Moreover, Marcus Rashford’s stoppage-time winner from the spot was highly contentious, referee Daniele Orsato’s harsh decision being met with both a chorus of boos and a sea of confusion from fans and pundits, alike.

For many, including some players, that famous evening in Paris cemented the Norwegian’s position as the best possible candidate for the permanent job. However, since securing their place in the Champions League quarter finals United have fallen to damaging losses at the Emirates and Molineux.

Though they remain in Europe’s elite competition, their best chance of qualifying for next season’s edition is undeniably the Premier League top four. They occupied fourth position going in to the clash with the Gunners, yet looked lethargic and lacked accuracy as their opponents leapfrogged them; Emery had worked his counterpart out at a crucial time.

During last weekend’s FA Cup defeat against ​Wolves the team looked equally toothless, relying on moments of individual brilliance rather than team cohesion. These consecutive failures may be an indication that the honeymoon period is over.

It is certainly not outlandish to say that the 46-year-old is less adept when with tactics than he is with team morale. His time at ​Cardiff City stands testament to this; 4-0 thrashings against ​Hull City and Sunderland, plus a 6-3 drubbing at home to ​Liverpool, are just some of the results that characterised his woeful tenure in south Wales. 

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Solskjær voiced his concerns following the 2-1 loss last Saturday, admitting that his players had been been misfiring in recent weeks. 

This was a big step backwards, mainly because of the quality of the possession and the passing,” he told ​BBC Sport. “We’ve had a great run and now we’ve had two defeats. Against Arsenal we just couldn’t score, and this was poor.”

It may be the case that the Red Devils are simply losing momentum. After Mourinho’s authoritarian, demoralising approach to management, the players would have been spurred into action by the freedom of expression and optimism Solskjær provides.

However, that kind of impetus will only go so far. It is beneficial to have a smiling coach who exhibits pride in and care for his recruits. But, organisational skills and tactical insight are also required. Solskjær doesn’t seem to possess the requisite levels of either, instead riding a wave of confidence and positivity.

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Paul Pogba & Antoine Griezmann Gift World Cup Winning Teammates NBA-Style Championship Rings

​Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba and Atletico Madrid striker Antoine Griezmann have bought each of their teammates an NBA-style Championship ring to commemorate France’s success at the 2018 World Cup in Russia. 

The duo, who are big NBA fans and have been regularly pictured alongside the great and the good from the basketball world over the years, are thought to have come up with the idea last summer. 

And, after the French federation were reticent to contribute to the expense, decided to fork out the unknown sum by themselves. 


Reports of the idea emerged last year, but according to ​Get French Football News, the gifts have now arrived as the France squad prepare to take on Moldova and Iceland in their opening two UEFA Euro 2020 qualifiers. 

Griezmann is understood to have contacted Jason of Beverly Hills, the California-based jewellers that designed commemorative rings for the Golden State Warriors after their 2017 NBA title win and the Los Angeles Dodgers following the 2017 NLCS victory, back in July. 

And, as revealed by Les Bleus representative Blaise Matuidi on his official Twitter account, the gifts have gone done well within the French camp.

Alongside a picture of himself and the ​Manchester United man holding the illuminated boxes containing their rings, the Juventus midfielder wrote: “Unforgettable gift for an unforgettable memory. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for the jewellery ​Paul Pogba.”

Pogba himself also unveiled the rings in a group photo of all the ring-wearers on his official Instagram, where he gave out a special shoutout to Chelsea midfielder ​N’Golo Kante, who was apparently especially touched by the present. 


Pogba wrote: “World champion ring and [thumbs up] celebration like N’Golo Kante.”

France will be aiming to qualify top of Group H in their Euro 2020 qualifying campaign, where they will also play Andorra and Albania.

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