Germany rediscover 'winning mentality' after France grind
Germany hailed the 2-1 friendly victory over France in Paris on Wednesday as a welcome return of a winning mentality for Joachim Loew's side, who ended a 26-year barren run against their neighbours.
The Germans may claim to have little interest in statistics, having beaten France in World Cup semi-finals in 1982 and again four years later, but a first win on French soil since 1935 did not go unnoticed.
With the 2014 World Cup in Brazil looming large on the horizon, the visitors were well aware of the importance that a victory would bring as they look to build momentum towards ending a trophy drought stretching back to 1996
"We played really well, we won and we now seem to have our winning mentality back," said winger Thomas Mueller, who cancelled out France's first half lead with a fine finish in the 51st minute.
Real Madrid midfielder Sami Khedira then snatched a 73rd-minute winner to secure Germany's first success over France in any match since 1987.The Germans were unaffected by a string of late withdrawals due to injury, including the absence of midfielders Bastian Schweinsteiger, Mario Goetze and Marco Reus, and looked sharp throughout much of the game.
Image: Germany's Thomas Muller (left), Sami Khedira (centre) and Mesut Oezil (right) celebrate after scoring against France during their international friendly at the Stade de France on Wednesday
Photographs: Charles Platiau/Reuters
'We were clearly the better team'
"This game showed that even friendlies can be real tests," said Loew, whose team played much of the second half without a recognised striker when Mario Gomez was replaced by Toni Kroos in the 58th minute.
"My players put in the effort and ran a lot. There were some good things happening on the pitch and we were clearly the better team."
The Germans, top of their World Cup qualifying Group C on 10 points from four matches, were in dire need of a good result following two below-par performances in recent matches.
An uninspiring scoreless stalemate against the Netherlands in a friendly followed a remarkable 4-4 home draw against Sweden late last year, ending Germany's 100 percent record in Group C after the Swedes battled back from a four-goal deficit.
Critics had started to question whether Loew's team could match their abundance of talent with a killer instinct that prevailed in successful German squads of the past.
Image: Germany's Benedikt Hoewedes (left) challenges France's Moussa Sissoko (right) during their friendly on Wednesday
Photographs: Charles Platiau/Reuters
Current German crop compared to France's 'magnificent losers' of the '80s
Defeats against Spain in the Euro 2008 final and a 2010 World Cup semi-final, as well as a shock Euro 2012 semi-final exit against an unfancied Italy have heaped pressure on Loew's squad to finally deliver.
Even French reporters compared the current German crop to France's "magnificent losers", the gloriously talented team of the 1980s that fell agonisingly short in those two World Cup semi-finals.
Loew did not respond to a question comparing the sides in a pre-match news conference but Wednesday's victory has instantly raised hopes among success-starved German fans, desperate to see the three-time World and European champions lift another trophy.Germany should strengthen their position at the top of Group C with routine victories in back-to-back qualifiers against Kazakhstan next month.
Image: France's Yohan Cabaye (left) and Germany's Mario Gomez vie for possession during their international friendly on Wednesday
Photographs: Gonzalo Fuentes/Reuters