Nations League against Italy: DFB driver Kimmich saves Flick's super series

The Nations League starts for the German national football team with the game against Italy.

Nations League against Italy: DFB driver Kimmich saves Flick's super series

The Nations League starts for the German national football team with the game against Italy. The European champion, who will miss the World Cup, takes the lead, but then Joshua Kimmich is there promptly. The team is still unbeaten under coach Hansi Flick - but there is a lot of work to do.

That was not yet a World Cup mood maker. The German national football team did not lose their first endurance test in the Nations League against European champions Italy - Hansi Flick's DFB kickers revealed weaknesses in all parts of the team in the 1-1 (0-0) win in muggy Bologna. Joshua Kimmich (73rd minute) prevented at least the first defeat under Flick shortly after the Italian lead by Lorenzo Pellegrini (70th minute).

Many inaccuracies and too little speed bothered the national coach visibly during the start of the demanding international block. On Tuesday we continue in Munich against the incited runner-up England.

The Squadra Azzurra, which did not qualify for the Qatar finals and changed significantly after the 2021 European Championship triumph, caused the German team in front of 23,754 spectators significantly more problems than Flick would have liked. After the DFB selection against the Brits, who lost 1-0 to Hungary on Saturday, and the game in Budapest (June 11), both teams will meet in Mönchengladbach on June 14 for the second leg.

The rivalry in the 36th edition of the classic international match between the two four-time world champions could already be felt before kick-off at the Stadio Renato Dall'Ara. When some spectators whistled and booed during the German anthem, the Italian players, most of the fans and also the Italian journalists drowned out the disturbances with loud clapping.

The German team was initially unimpressed by the backdrop and presented itself with a modified tactical system in the early stages. "Set a sign from the start," Flick had asked his team shortly before the game. And offensively, the DFB selection with a three-man chain kept looking for Leroy Sané, whom Flick took off the field after just under an hour after a disappointing performance, and Serge Gnabry on the outside. With a fine solo down the right-hand side, Gnabry created a real threat for the first time, but goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma from Paris Saint-Germain made a confident save (15').

Ex-Bayern coach Flick relied on a strong, well-rehearsed block from the German record champions with seven Munich professionals. The Italians, on the other hand, were still able to see the upheaval almost a year after winning the European Championship. The Squadra Azzurra struggled to find their structure. Only Donnarumma was on the pitch from the starting eleven in the European Championship final against England - Flick also described the Italian team as "unknown" given the starting line-up. Compared to the 0:3 in the Finalissima against South American champion Argentina three days earlier, European champion coach Roberto Mancini also changed ten positions.

Both teams had problems with the pitch, which was heavily watered before kick-off. The players slipped away again and again, the game flattened out after a lively start. However, driven by the Tifosi, the Italians gained increasing confidence. From more than 20 meters, Sassuolo striker Gianluca Scamacca hit the outside post (35th), which drove the home fans to shout "Italia" even louder.

Flick stood on the sidelines with his hands on his hips, the national coach did not like the way the game went. After a strong German attack from penalty area to penalty area, the conclusion was again too imprecise, Gnabry hammered the ball far over it from twelve meters (37th).

Shortly after the break, the German central defense with Antonio Rüdiger and Niklas Süle lacked coordination: Scamacca was completely free in front of Manuel Neuer to head the ball, but didn't hit the ball properly (47'). The Italian fans celebrated with a La Ola anyway, as their team was now dominating the game. Matteo Politano's attempt from the right (56th) narrowly missed the far post.

20 minutes before the end, Captain Neuer was beaten. After a cross from Wilfried Gnonto, Lorenzo Pellegrini only had to put his foot down in the centre. But the DFB-Elf answered promptly: Substitute Jonas Hofmann crossed from the right, the Italians complained in vain about handball from the hapless Timo Werner, Kimmich kept the overview and pulled powerfully. In the end, the Bayern midfielder still had the winning goal on his feet, but Donnarumma prevented a very flattering German success (79').