Sweden and Germany draw 0-0 in friendly

A youthful Germany team failed to unlock host Sweden, drawing

0-0 in an international friendly Wednesday dominated by strong

defenses rather than attacking flair.

Scoring chances were scarce at either end. Germany’s second-half

substitute, Toni Kroos, came closest to breaking the deadlock but

goalkeeper Andreas Isaksson clawed away his rising shot.

Sweden’s best chance came in the 52nd minute when Ola Toivonen

cleverly chested the ball in the penalty box, but Germany

substitute Andreas Beck was on hand to prevent him getting a shot

away.

Germany coach Joachim Loew fielded an experimental team, with

four players appearing for the national team for the first time.

Defender Marcel Schmelzer and midfielder Lewis Holtby both started,

while Andre Schurrle and Mario Goetze were introduced in the second

half.

”It was difficult today,” Germany striker Mario Gomez said.

”The pitch wasn’t very good and Sweden was good defensively today,

so it was difficult for us to create chances. I think 0-0 is

OK.”

Gomez felt the team had coped admirably without many of the

players that took Germany to the semifinals of the World Cup. Mesut

Oezil, Thomas Mueller and Philipp Lahm were all left out at the

request of their clubs, while Miroslav Klose and Lukas Podolski are

injured.

Loew’s Swedish counterpart, Erik Hamren, gave the Swedish

league’s top scorer Alexander Gerndt his debut with three minutes

remaining.

Hamren rested striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic and central defender

Olof Mellberg, but fielded most of the team’s other regulars.

”I think on the whole we played a really good game,” said

Hamren. ”Our defense was very good and they were also strong, so

there weren’t many chances.”

Both teams return to European Championship qualifying action

next spring. Germany will seek to extend its perfect start in Group

A when it travels to Kazakhstan on March 25. Sweden hosts Moldova

on March 29 and will be hoping to get back on track after a 4-1

loss to the Netherlands in Group E last month.

Lineups:

Sweden: Andreas Isaksson, Mikael Lustig (Marcus Berg, 68),

Andreas Granqvist, Daniel Majstorovic, Oscar Wendt, Andreas

Svensson, Kim Kallstrom (Alexander Gerndt, 87), Sebastian Larsson,

Pontus Wernbloom (Rasmus Elm, 74), Christian Wilhelmsson, Ola

Toivonen (Behrang Safari, 67).

Germany: Rene Adler, Jerome Boateng (Andreas Beck, 45), Mats

Hummels, Heiko Westermann, Marcel Schmelzer, Sami Khedira

(Christian Trasch, 58), Bastian Schweinsteiger (Toni Kroos, 58),

Lewis Holtby (Andre Schurrle, 77), Kevin Grosskreutz (Mario Goetze,

77), Marko Marin (Cacau, 58), Mario Gomez.