Joshua Kimmich started the game and turned in an accomplished performance, with Thomas Müller making a cameo appearance as world champions Germany won their first match after EURO 2016, but Wednesday night’s 2-0 friendly victory over Finland was really all about former FCB man Bastian Schweinsteiger, who pulled on a national team shirt for the last time and bade a tearful farewell to the 30,121 fans in Mönchengladbach prior to kick-off.
“It has been a great honour to play for Germany, and a very, very great honour to play for you the fans,” Schweinsteiger declared to a crowd including the likes of Jupp Heynckes and Hermann Gerland. The address was preceded by a short film of Schweinsteiger’s best moments for Germany down the years. “I sense very, very profound gratitude at the chance to experience this. I really hope we’ll see each other again some time in the future!”
In his 121st international appearance, Schweinsteiger led out a rejuvenated Germany team. Manuel Neuer and Mats Hummels were unused subs, with Müller coming on after 78 minutes. Apart from Schweinsteiger, Shkodran Mustafi and ex-FCB man Mario Götze were the only World Cup winners in the starting line-up. The young home team dominated the play but the first real chance resulted in a mistake by Finland’s Arajuuri, who hit his own post after 27 minutes, with Götze then coming close four minutes later.Skipper departs on 68 minutes
Germany upped the ante after the break with Schalke’s Max Meyer netting the deserved opener from close range on 55 minutes after a move initiated by Kimmich. The world champions pressed home their advantage when sub Mesut Özil added a 77th-minute second. However, the highlight of the evening had already occurred in the 68th minute when Schweinsteiger left the field to rapturous applause.
Points are at stake on Sunday at 20.45 CEST when Germany travel to Oslo for a 2018 World Cup qualifier against Norway. For now, Germany fans are left to say thanks you and goodbye to Schweinsteiger, one of the most inspirational figures of his generation.