Brazil laid down a marker ahead of the World Cup as they ended defending champions Germany’s 22-game undefeated streak with a 1-0 friendly win at the Olympiastadion in Berlin.
The game marked the first senior meeting between the heavyweights since a remarkable World Cup semi-final in 2014 when Germany thumped the stunned hosts Brazil 7-1 in Belo Horizonte.
While the result will not erase the humiliation of one of Brazilian football’s darkest nights, the nature of their performance suggests they are approaching their best as they look to land a sixth World Cup.
Just as they were in that clash at the Mineirao, the Selecao were without the injured Neymar on Tuesday. However, they now possess another superstar in Manchester City striker Gabriel Jesus and he powered a header past the floundering Kevin Trapp as the visitors cranked up the pressure shortly before the interval.
Paulinho, Philippe Coutinho and Jesus all squandered opportunities to double down on their dominance in the second period, with Germany looking a shadow of the side that won their World Cup qualifying group with a 100 per cent record.
After seeing his side lose for the first time since a Euro 2016 semi-final against France, Joachim Low will see friendlies against Austria and Saudi Arabia in June as opportunities to return to winning ways ahead of their campaign in Russia.
Chances were at a premium during a cagey opening and when one did fall to Ilkay Gundogan after 17 minutes, the Manchester City midfielder could only blaze wildly over from Julian Draxler’s cutback.
Mario Gomez clipped over from a tight angle after Leon Goretzka’s cross caused problems for the visitors’ defence, before Joshua Kimmich headed Marvin Plattenhardt’s cross wide at the back post.
Brazil’s heralded attack finally sparked into life nine minutes before the interval. Jesus inexplicably fired over, though, after breaking through a static German defence and shrugging off the back-tracking Antonio Rudiger and Jerome Boateng.
He made up for that miss within 60 seconds, however, meeting Willian’s teasing cross with a powerful header that Trapp could only bundle into his own net.
1º tempo – 37 minutos: @gabrieljesus33 aproveita cruzamento de @willianborges88 e manda pro fundo do GOOOOLLL!!! Brasil 1 x 0 @DFB_Team #GigantesPorNatureza #SeleçãoBrasileira pic.twitter.com/lAIgw4FWzk
— CBF Futebol (@CBF_Futebol) March 27, 2018
Brazil started the second half with a spring in their step and twice came close to doubling their advantage in the same passage of play in the 55th minute.
Willian’s initial goal-bound effort was blocked and fell invitingly at the feet of Paulinho, who unleashed a powerful drive that was turned behind by Trapp.
His Barcelona team-mate Coutinho crashed a shot just over the crossbar as Tite’s men continued to take advantage of large pockets of space in the Germany backline.
Jesus really should have netted a second after 67 minutes, failing to turn home a back-post header after Trapp abandoned his goal attempting to claim a corner.
Boateng will have given Bayern Munich cause for concern ahead of their Champions League quarter-final against Sevilla when he was replaced by Niklas Sule after appearing to injure his ankle.
The previously under-worked Allison tipped over Draxler’s fierce drive in stoppage time to ensure Brazil held on for a memorable win.
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