The world champions fielded an experimental line-up in their homecoming against Argentina on Wednesday and many of the new faces visibly struggled in a 4-2 lossCOMMENT
By Enis Koylu
Argentina's 4-2 victory over Germany in Dusseldorf on Wednesday will be billed by some as revenge for the World Cup final at the Maracana two months ago. That it is not but it is, however, a warning of the magnitude of the task at hand for the champions.
The summer of 2014 was always going to be seismic. And so it proved. With Mario Gotze's winner and the victory party in Berlin still etched in everyone's minds, first Philipp Lahm, then Per Mertesacker and finally Miroslav Klose - boasting 354 caps between them - left the international scene to herald the end of a generation.
And Wednesday's game, fittingly against their defeated opponents in Rio, was an opportunity for the crop of new talent coming through to show the German public there was no need to worry. They missed out.
Matthias Ginter, fresh from a big move to Borussia Dortmund, was caught napping a yard behind the rest of his fellow defenders as Sergio Aguero latched onto a great Angel Di Maria cross to give Gerardo Martino's side the lead before the Manchester United man set up Erik Lamela to double the lead.
All the while, Germany were not at the races. Fielding an experimental line-up featuring just four players who started the encounter against the same opposition 52 days previously (only two of whom could really be considered first-teamers), the next generation failed to impress.
Christoph Kramer looked as lost as he did while concussed in the final, the game drifting idly by him. Julian Draxler was well off the pace prior to his withdrawal due to injury and those returning to the fold, Marco Reus and Mario Gomez, endured disappointing evenings, the former buzzing around in a lively manner without having much impact, the latter missing three excellent chances before half-time.
And while Argentina were incisive going forward and ably finished their chances when the ball was put into the box, they were hardly a closed shop. Martin Demichelis, Marcos Rojo and Lucas Biglia took turns to give the ball away in silly areas, yet the hosts' front line simply did not have enough about them to punish the slips-up.
By the time Andre Schurrle scored - itself a scrappy strike thanks to some slack goalkeeping and defending - Di Maria had assisted another and scored one of his own and, by the time that the cavalry arrived in the form of Thomas Muller and Gotze, the contest was over, even if the younger Bayern Munich attacker restored a degree of respectability.
Germany's qualification campaign begins with Scotland on Sunday and the team which features in Dortmund will have little resemblance to the one which took such a thrashing in Dusseldorf. Jerome Boateng, Mats Hummels, Mesut Ozil and Muller will all start, while Sami Khedira, Bastian Schweinsteiger and even Marcel Schmelzer can count on recalls when they are fit again.
However, the youngsters who will eventually have to step into their shoes have a lot of work to do if they are to follow in the footsteps of World Cup winners.
The evening began with a tribute to Lahm, Mertesacker and Klose, who have all sealed their places in history. What their successors served up was a disastrous homecoming.