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Germany lacks cutting edge in goalless draw with Ukraine

Alex Grimm / Getty Images Sport / Getty

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Germany were held to a 0-0 draw by Ukraine as the European Championship hosts lacked a cutting edge at a sold out Max-Morlock Stadion in Nuremberg

More than 44,000 fans were in jovial mood at kick-off, expecting a Germany that have rediscovered their form under Julian Nagelsmann put on a show less than two weeks before they start Euro 2024 against Scotland in Munich on June 14.

What Germany's supporters got was something quite different, as Nagelsmann's side dominated long periods but failed to make the breakthrough against a resilient Ukraine.

Germany came into this game having turned a corner under Nagelsmann, winning their last two games against France and the Netherlands with an aggressive, high-tempo style and sparking optimism that, with home advantage, this European Championship could be a successful one.

Nagelsmann was without Real Madrid's Toni Kroos and Antonio Rudiger, both rested after winning the Champions League final, as well as Borussia Dortmund pair Nico Schlotterbeck and Niclas Fullkrug.

Brighton midfielder Pascal Gross deputized for Kroos admirably, pulling the strings alongside Bayer Leverkusen's Robert Andrich, and Germany were relatively comfortable at the back, as Stuttgart's Waldemar Anton enjoyed an assured full debut alongside Jonathan Tah.

It was rather in attack where Germany laboured, lacking a cutting edge. 

Arsenal's Kai Havertz was isolated for long periods and Bayer Leverkusen's Florian Wirtz, whose every touch sent a buzz of excitement around the stadium, failed to get going before his withdrawal at half-time.

Germany's best chances fell to Ilkay Gundogan, who missed a golden first-half chance as he mistimed his jump as he attempted to meet a teasing cross by Gross.

The closest Germany came was on the hour, when Maximilian Beier, who had come off the bench a minute earlier, rattled the inside of the post with a first-time shot from Andrich's perfect through ball.

Germany peppered the Ukraine goal throughout the game but the visitors' back line held firm in a fine demonstration of defence, led a string of top saves by goalkeeper Anatolii Trubin. 

The Ukrainians, who qualified for their fourth straight Euro with a playoff victory over Iceland in March, will be buoyed by denying the tournament hosts on home soil as they look to come through a group that also includes Romania, Slovakia and Belgium.

While several aspects of the performance will have pleased Nagelsmann - the performances of Gross and Andrich and the impact of his substitutes among them - it was a result that poses some questions ahead of Germany's final warm-up game against Greece in Monchengladbach on June 7.

After opening the tournament against Scotland, Germany will face Hungary on June 19 and Switzerland four days later.

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