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Swedes hold Germany in drab stalemate

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Swedes hold Germany in drab stalemate
07:30 CET+01:00
Sweden and Germany played out a dull defensive goalless draw in Gothenburg on Wednesday night, underlining how important the absent Zlatan Ibrahimovic is to Euro 2012 qualification plans.

Sweden coach Erik Hamrén expressed satisfaction at holding Germany to their first goalless draw for five years, with his team rarely threatened by a limited performance from their illustrious visitors.

"I am very pleased with the performance of my team," Hamrén said after the friendly.

"I would have wished for a few more scoring chances, but the German defence was once again very strong. We played against the third-best team in the world and it is not always so easy against such a well organised side."

Hamren's side certainly did not threaten the Germany goal as Rene Adler did not have to make a single save all evening.

Sweden were without striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic who was rested after the AC Milan forward picked up a knock after scoring the only goal in his side's 1-0 win over Inter Milan last weekend.

German coach Joachim Loew meanwhile cast an eye to the future and gave four players their debuts.

Dortmund left-back Marcel Schmelzer, 22, and Mainz winger Lewis Holtby, 20, both made their debuts from the start with Bayern Munich's Bastian Schweinsteiger captaining the team.

Teenager Mario Goetze became the youngest German player since 1954 to make his debut when he came on, aged just 18 years and 167 days, alongside Mainz's 20-year-old Andre Schuerrle as the pair also made their debuts late on.

"I am very pleased with the performance," said Loew.

"It was very quickly clear that it was going to be a game of patience. The Swedes put lots of men behind the ball and waited for us to attack, they didn't attack like you would expect a home team to."

"I was really pleased with those who made their debuts and those who were making their second appearances."

Loew expressed satisfaction over the development of a team that came third in this summer's World Cup in South Africa.

"This year has seen the development I was hoping for, we have seen some quality football with 'Made in Germany' stamped all over it."

Star names like Mesut Özil, Thomas Mueller, striker Miroslav Klose and defender Philipp Lahm, key players in the World Cup campaign, were all missing at Gothenburg's Nya Ullevi Stadium.

Loew fielded effectively a Germany Under-21 side to look at combinations with the Germans set to host Italy in February next year in Dortmund.

This was not an impressive performance from a Germany side which seemed slightly overawed by the occasion and threatened little in a drab first half.

The visitors resorted to firing in long balls in attacks which were repeatedly snuffed out.

Holtby went closest in the 58th minute when he curled his shot around the far post, while at the other end Hoffenheim defender Andreas Beck blocked a shot from PSV Eindhoven midfielder Ola Toivonen on 52 minutes.

World Cup players Toni Kroos, of Bayern Munich, and Stuttgart striker Cacau were introduced in the second half to try and lift the game's tempo, but without great success.

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