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Rusty Germany manages 1:0 against Belgium

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Rusty Germany manages 1:0 against Belgium
Photo: DPA
09:54 CEST+02:00
The German football team managed to squeeze a 1:0 victory over Belgium on Friday night with a goal in the 51st minute, after a performance which seemed creaky when compared with the stellar performance in the World Cup.

Opening the campaign for European Championship qualification, trainer Joachim Löw sent in the same team that came third in South Africa, but even he admitted it showed that they had had a break since then.

“The victory was important, the team showed good spirit. But one did at times feel that the players were only back in training four weeks ago. We needed some time before we got into the swing of things,” said Löw afterwards.

Miroslav Klose saved the Germans from embarrassing themselves with a solid goal set up by Thomas Müller, but only after a first half which had no rhythm or particular pace.

“The beginning is always difficult. That is why it is important that we got three points today. One has to work out such opponents then you can open up possibilities. That is what we did today,” said Philipp Lahm, who was acting captain in the continued absences of Michael Ballack.

“We are happy that we did it here. That was a difficult one. But in any case we managed something good with this start,” said Bastian Schweinsteiger.

Apart from the defenders Marcell Jansen and Holger Badstuber, Löw sent the same team onto the pitch in Brussels as had performed so well in South Africa. But they only really got going in the second half, which resulted in the Klose goal – and a near miss by Müller nine minutes later.

Goalkeeper Manuel Neuer performed well, particularly in the first half against a Belgian team which started the match in aggressive form, with a shot on goal in the sixth minute, and a second in the ninth minute.

But Sami Khedira and Schweinsteiger were rarely in a state to fire up the game from centre field, as they had during the World Cup, while Khedira, playing in Ballack's position clearly demonstrated a lack of practice. Mesut Özil and Lukas Podolski, stars in South Africa, were both generally disappointing.

Ahead of the match, German police stopped dozens of violent fans from travelling to Brussels in a crackdown on hooliganism.

A police spokesman in Aachen, 42 violent fans had been prevented from travelling by Friday evening with police confiscating numerous weapons, including baseball bats, during checks on the Belgium-Germany border.

Around 1,500 fans were stopped in total and two arrests were made for

inciting violence and a breach of the Explosives Act.

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