Bundesliga - Germany get reality check
Germany's 2-1 defeat to France in their friendly in Bremen may have come at just the right time, giving the team who are one of the Euro 2012 favourites a reality check following their perfect qualifying campaign.
The Germans qualified top of their group with 10 wins from 10 games and also scored confidence-boosting victories over top teams including Brazil, Uruguay and Netherlands in friendlies last year as talk of their first title since 1996 grew louder.
Wednesday's defeat against France, who less than two years ago spectacularly flopped at the World Cup in South Africa, was a sobering experience for Joachim Loew's team, highlighting the fact that it may not be plain sailing for them in Poland and Ukraine in June and July.
"We should complain because we could have conceded one or two more goals," said Germany's Thomas Mueller. "While we should not read too much into this result, we were not very disciplined in defence.
"We were too open at the back, we worked too little and left our defence without backup," said the 2010 World Cup top scorer.
It was not, however, the first time Germany had taken to the pitch without key players and throughout the game they were on the back foot against the speedy French, who played the sort of quick passing and attacking game that has made Loew's team one of the most exciting to watch in the past two years.
Loew said it was a deserved win for France but his team, who have two more friendlies against Switzerland and Israel, would bounce back in time for the Euros.
"We are obviously a bit annoyed with the result but I am more annoyed about the way we lost," the coach told reporters. "But we must keep in mind it was a long break since November, there were some changes, some injuries and you can lose your rhythm a bit.
"Once we are together for three or four weeks it will be much better."
Central defender Mats Hummels shared his coach's view, saying: "If all the players are back then we have an outstanding team."
"France will be among the Euro favourites, just like Spain and Germany," said Germany coach Joachim Loew after watching his team lose in the Bremen friendly.
Lille's Debuchy set up Olivier Giroud's and Florent Malouda's goals as the visitors, who for once were playing a team wanting to do more than sit back and wait, surprisingly outplayed three-times European champions Germany.
Coach Laurent Blanc, who took over in 2010 after France were knocked out of the first round of the World Cup following off-pitch dramas, said the game had been an important test for his team.
"These are friendlies, of course, but England, Brazil or Germany are prestigious opponents," said Blanc, referring to France's victories over England in 2010 and Brazil last year.
"We showed that we were able to compete with one of the best teams in Europe," said midfielder Yohan Cabaye.
"This kind of victory will help us prepare for the Euro finals peacefully," added centre back Philippe Mexes.
Captain Hugo Lloris, however, warned against complacency.
"This victory is important for our self-confidence but let's not get carried way," the Lyon keeper said.
France will play England, Ukraine and Sweden at the Euro finals in Poland and Ukraine, which start on June 8, and Blanc said that some players had made an important step towards getting a call-up for the trip.
"We will also monitor the players' performances with their clubs but those who were here tonight have scored points," he said.
Giroud, the Ligue 1 top scorer, also shone at the Weser Stadium and he could well be the third striker for the Euro finals along with Loic Remy and Karim Benzema, who both missed Wednesday's game through injury.