European champions Spain thumped Venezuela 5-0, Netherlands beat England 3-2 after a flurry of late goals, Italy crashed to a 1-0 home defeat by United States and Poland drew 0-0 with Portugal in Warsaw’s newly-opened stadium.
Argentina’s world player of the year Lionel Messi again showed why Europe’s finest nations would all love to have a player of his sheer class in their ranks with a hat-trick in a 3-1 win over Switzerland. With 100 days to go before the tournament in Poland and Ukraine kicks off in Warsaw, teams were honing their line-ups and tactics with a number of second-string players trying to make a name for themselves and book a place in their national squads.
The biggest clash on paper was 1996 European champions Germany at home to 2000 winners France and it turned out to be the best match with Giroud’s neat finish in the first half and Florent Malouda’s goal settling matters. Cacau pulled one back for the hosts late on in Bremen. “We knew that Germany were very strong offensively but we had studied a few weaknesses in the defense,” France coach Laurent Blanc told reporters.
Montpellier’s Giroud, who now has three caps and is top scorer in Ligue 1 this term, will now be in Blanc’s thoughts for the competition given goals have not really flowed for Les Bleus of late. Malouda’s close-range scramble may also have calmed any doubts he had about making the Euro squad after a difficult season for Chelsea as in-form France goalkeeper Hugo Lloris enjoyed a dream first game as permanent captain.
Borussia Moenchengladbach’s top scorer Marco Reus was making his fourth international appearance as an attacking midfielder but Germany, many people’s favourites for June’s title, flattered to deceive despite decent chances. Spain striker Soldado was given his opportunity by David Villa’s long-term injury as well as Fernando Torres’s loss of form and he took it with huge gusto in the second period, adding to Andres Iniesta and David Silva’s first-half strikes as well as missing a penalty.