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Germans and Italians star in warm-ups

PARIS, France, August 11 – Germany and Italy produced the standout performances in Wednesday’s friendlies, giving both ideal boosts ahead of next month’s Euro 2012 qualifiers.

A vibrant and youthful Germany gave further evidence that they are the rising force in international football by deservedly beating Brazil 3-2 – heaping more pressure on the South American giants’ coach Mano Menezes.

Italy too showed they have made enormous progress under Cesare Prandelli since he replaced Marcello Lippi by beating Spain 2-1, even if the world champions lined up with only two players from all-conquering Barcelona.

France, another of Europe’s traditional powerhouses who required a thorough rebuilding after a catastrophic World Cup, extended their unbeaten run under Laurent Blanc to 11 games, though they were deservedly held 1-1 by Chile in Montpellier.

Germany never looked like losing once they took the lead early in the second-half through a Bastian Schweinsteigger penalty and the display by the youngsters – especially Mario Goetze – gave coach Joachim Loew a lot of pleasure.

“I am personally pleased that I have so many options now,” said Loew.

“Mario Goetze has exceptional awareness and looks to find solutions to every problem on the pitch.

“It is the simple things he does which makes him so strong.”

Menezes, who has just one win in his last five games and back-to-back defeats, conceded the Germans had been the better team but it was a good experience for his players to have undergone.

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“The Germans were clear winners, but games like these against the top teams are what we need,” he said.

“We were slow to get into the game and we weren’t as sharp as the Germans.”

Spain captain and goalkeeper Iker Casillas may have believed the wrong side came out on top in their friendly with Italy, but goals by Riccardo Montolivo and Alberto Aquilani were enough to give the 2006 world champions a much-desired win.

“We have to take this (result) in the right way. Until we ran out of legs and fluidity we played very well,” said Prandelli.

“Then we lacked order and we had to work harder. But we showed character and courage.”

Casillas, though, was having none of it.

“I don’t think they deserved to win, we did a lot more than them in the second half but they scored a lucky goal. A draw would have been fairer,” said Casillas.

“When you play this type of game such as Italy-Spain, it’s as important as a World Cup and you always want to win.

“It was a friendly up to a certain point. The problem for us was that it was the first time we’d seen each other as a national team in some time and we’re at the beginning of the season,” added Casillas, though the Italians too hadn’t seen each other in a while either.

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France put on a good display against an attractive Chilean side, especially as they were missing several first-choice players through injury.

Loic Remy gave them a first-half lead but, spurred on by their Barcelona-bound star Alexis Sanchez, the South American side forced an equaliser in the second-half through Nicolas Cordova.

“It was a good game of football,” said Blanc afterwards. “There were fantastic players on show on both sides.

“It would have been great to win but Chile had chances of their own. I am satisfied with the players even if we do ask a lot of them.

“For a match right at the start of the season there was a lot of quality on show. We thought that Chile would struggle a bit more physically but they are so good at keeping the ball.”

In other friendlies played on Wednesday across Europe, Portugal defeated Luxembourg 5-0, Albania defeated Montenegro 3-2, Slovenia drew Belgium 0-0, Turkey defeated Estonia 3-0, Hungary defeated Iceland 4-0, Poland defeated Georgia 1-0, Slovakia defeated Austria 1-0, Switzerland defeated Liechtenstein 2-1, Norway defeated Czech Republic 3-0, Sweden defeated Ukraine 1-0, Belarus defeated Bulgaria 1-0, Russia defeated Serbia 1-0 and Macedonia defeated Azerbaijan 1-0.

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