A late long ranger from Germany midfielder Toni Kroos gave his side a 1-0 win over Spain in Tuesday night’s friendly meeting in Vigo.
The meeting of the last two world champions was heading towards a dull draw on a rainy night at Celta Vigo’s Balaidos ground, before Real Madrid star Kroos found the bottom corner with a skidding drive from 20 yards.
While this had been billed as a glamour fixture, the passage of time, retirements, injury and both managers’ keenness to try out new players meant that only seven of the respective starting sides from the 2010 and 2014 World Cup finals began here.
Of the newer faces, Real Madrid starlet Isco was the brightest for the home side, while Bayer Leverkusen’s Karim Bellarabi impressed in just his fourth cap for the Germans, in a game played in difficult conditions and at less than competitive intensity.
Despite being reigning world champions, and up against a Spain side apparently in decline, Germany coach Jogi Low took a cautious approach with a five-man back line, which took time to settle early on.
Celta left-sided attacker Nolito tested Germany keeper Ron-Robert Zieler from 20 yards, before the Hannover stopper also had to deal with a snapshot from Atletico Madrid midfielder Raul Garcia.
The visitors’ best chances in the opening period came on the break.
First a Sergio Busquets mistake lead to early substitute Bellarabi — who had replaced the injured Thomas Muller on 23 minutes — setting up a chance but right wing-back Sebastian Rudy of Hoffenheim shooting over.
22 year old Isco, given the creative reigns for Spain in the absence of Andres Iniesta, Cesc Fabregas and David Silva through injury, was his side’s most likely source of imagination in an attacking midfield role. In just his sixth cap, the Real Madrid starlet regularly found space away from his club colleagues Kroos and Sami Khedira, but was unable to pick out a final ball.
La Roja coach Vicente Del Bosque withdrew three more senior players at half-time, and the visitors almost took advantage immediately but Kevin Volland, Antonio Rudiger and Sami Khedira all could not take advantage of decent shooting opportunities.
The game opened up a bit late on. Debutant Spain goalkeeper Kiko Casilla made a scrambling stop from Hoffenheim attacker Volland moments after entering as a replacement. Another Isco run set up a chance for another substitute Pedro Rodriguez, but the Barcelona winger’s chip was clawed away by Ziegler.
Kroos’ 89th minute skidding drive then brought a win, just as it seemed neither team had done enough to merit the win. Tonight’s game suggested more experimentation is needed before Del Bosque and Low find the right blend for Euro 2016.
SPAIN: Casillas; Azpilicueta, Piqué, Ramos, Bernat; Bruno, Busquets;
Raúl García, Isco, Nolito; Morata.
Subs: Albiol for Pique, Bartra for Ramos, Camacho for Busquets,
Callejon for Raul Garcia, Pedro for Nolito, Casilla for Casillas.
Germany: Zieler; Höwedes, Mustafi, Rüdiger; Rudy, Khedira, Kroos, Durm; Müller, Götze, Volland.
Subs: Bellarabi for Muller, Bender for Khedira, Kruse for Gotze.