Sweden, 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.