Italy and Germany served up an entertaining international friendly at the iconic San Siro stadium in Milan on Tuesday, but despite plenty of chances and exciting attacking football, neither team managed to score.
The two sides played out an entertaining first half, but neither team could convert one of their chances. Italy took control after the break and had a ton of efforts on goal, but the score remained 0-0.
As the hosts’ official Twitter account shared, the Azzurri gave rising stars Alessio Romagnoli and Daniele Rugani a start in defence:
Die Mannschaft handed Yannick Gerhardt his debut and started with Bernd Leno in goal, per the team’s official Twitter account:
There’s a host of changes from Friday night’s #WCQ, including a debut for @VfLWolfsburg_EN’s @yannickgerhardt! #hattrickchallenge #ITAGER pic.twitter.com/IJcIRbwBAS
— Germany (@DFB_Team_EN) November 15, 2016
Both teams started with plenty of attacking intentions, with youngsters on both sides hoping to prove themselves. The ball moved at a rapid pace to the delight of the crowd in Milan.
Shkodran Mustafi did well to intercept a cross from Matteo Darmian that was intended for the in-form Andrea Belotti, and Eder and Ciro Immobile did well to hold up play, with Belotti nearly converting the resulting cross.
On the other side of the pitch, Ilkay Gundogan sent Leon Goretzka through on goal, but veteran stopper Gianluigi Buffon intervened. The back-and-forth continued, with Leno tipping a strike from Rugani over the bar and Goretzka putting Buffon to work again.
Gazzetta’s Vieri Capretta pointed out, the home fans had plenty of reasons to cheer, but Germany also put together a fine showing:
Juventus defender Rugani has just nutmegged Gundogan.
— Vieri Capretta (@VieriCapretta) November 15, 2016
Immobile burst past Mats Hummels after a fine through ball from Daniele De Rossi, but the forward got his shot all wrong, sending his effort wide. Gerhardt couldn’t connect with a cross from Thomas Muller, but Gundogan nearly cleaned up behind him, with Buffon intervening at the last minute.
The Juventus stopper had to stay alert and come off his line in a hurry after Goretzka and Gundogan worked a clever one-two.
Germany got the better of the Italians as the half wore on, but chances grew few. Muller had Buffon beat, but Davide Zappacosta made a last-ditch block on his shot that seemed to be flying wide regardless.
As Het Nieuwsblad’s Vince Van Genechten shared, the Italians made a change in goal during half-time, with local favourite Gianluigi Donnarumma replacing Buffon:
The Azzurri seized momentum after the break, with Immobile and Belotti working hard to disrupt Germany’s defence and the latter firing a shot from long range.
De Rossi conducted play from midfield superbly, and Germany struggled to deal with the Italian energy. Belotti wanted a penalty after a delightful turn and an apparent knock just as he was getting ready to shoot, but the official decided against it or even consulting the video replay, which was used for this friendly.
ItalianFootballDaily didn’t need video replay:
Not sure how Belotti isn’t awarded a penalty there. Quite the questionable decision.
— ItalianFootballDaily (@ItalianFD) November 15, 2016
Germany manager Joachim Low made several changes with 30 minutes left to play, sending Kevin Volland and Serge Gnabry into the fray. The former had the ball in the net just minutes later, but his goal was flagged down for offside. Once again, the decision was close, but video replay was not used.
Goretzka’s departure meant Die Mannschaft lost their most impressive forward on the counter, but Low barely changed his tactical approach, keeping his team sitting deep.
Leno did well to parry a shot from Federico Bernardeschi, getting down quickly to deny the Fiorentina man, but Germany appeared to be inviting trouble with their deep defence.
Immobile was the next man to go close, curling a shot just wide of Leno’s goal, and with the final whistle fast approaching, Italy prepared a major assault, bringing on Simone Zaza.
Belotti had Leno beat after another great turn inside the box, but to the disbelief of the San Siro crowd, the ball smashed off the post. Van Genechten thinks the 22-year-old has a bright future for the Azzurri:
#Belotti will score so much goals for the #Azzurri. Like #Weigl, he’s got that "it" factor in his position #ITAGER
— Vince Van Genechten (@VVGenechten) November 15, 2016
The crowd gave Belotti a standing ovation when he was taken off just before injury time, and Immobile received the same treatment. Zaza and Nicola Sansone couldn’t break the deadlock, as the score remained 0-0.
Italy and Germany will resume their 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying campaigns in 2017.