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June 28, 2017

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Germans show Confed Cup potential with win over Aussies

SOCHI, Russia — Rested world champions Jerome Boateng and Mesut Oezil were among the first to congratulate their potential heirs after a youthful Germany team beat Australia 3-2 in their Confederations Cup opener.

"Good job boys," the defender Boateng tweeted, and midfielder Oezil said on the same social network: "Congrats to the whole team today."

The praise arrived before the night flight from Sochi to Kazan where Joachim Loew's team arrived Tuesday with two days to prepare for the next, more difficult, task against Copa America champions Chile.

Loew had been criticized by some for leaving out a host of established players such as Boateng, Oezil, Toni Kroos, Mats Hummels, Thomas Mueller and goalkeeper Manuel Neuer.

The coach wants the stars to get plenty of rest before the next season highlighted by the planned World Cup title defense. The absence of the established forces also gives Loew a chance to test the next generation of which some could make it to the 2018 big event.

Monday's match against Australia was a first indication, with Schalke midfielder Leon Goretzka the big winner while Leverkusen goalkeeper Bernd Leno may have played his last game at the tournament.

The lively Goretzka was involved in the first goal scored by Lars Stindl, was brought down for a penalty converted by captain Julian Draxler and the scored the third himself, his first Germany goal in his xx cap.

"Leon Goretzka always digs deep, he is technically and physically strong and was very good today," Loew said in praise of the 22-year-old Goretzka.

Looking at Leno, Loew said "you would have expected him to hold onto the ball" ahead of the second Australian goal which gave the game more spice than it should have had after Germany were utterly dominant in the first half and should have scored four of five goals.

The whole camp lamented the missed chances but everyone was happy with the first three points and the opening 45 minutes in particular also showed what the team is capable of.

"I am very satisfied, the boys tried to make things work. The boys know the basics and have a lot of quality. The fact we have only been together ten days as well it was still a very good performance," Loew said.

"A lot of energy has been pumped into this team in a short space of time. They all want to make this tournament theirs. The teamwork and spirit in the group is very good."

Next up are Chile, with Barcelona's Marc Andre ter Stegen probably between the posts and Loew looking forward to seeing how his team will fare.

"Chile is one of the best teams in the world, technically as well as tactically. It will be good for us to see how we keep up with them over 90 minutes and see if we can match their intensity for the duration," Loew said.

Goretzka, for his part, will not be afraid as he said: "That's what the tournament is there for, to compete with such teams."

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