World champions Germany and Italy played out an entertaining 0-0 draw in their friendly international on Tuesday with both sides missing a string of chances in their final match of the year.
The Germans, who beat Italy twice this year including in the Euro 2016 quarter-finals following a penalty shootout, were without half a dozen key players – with Toni Kroos, Manuel Neuer, Mesut Ozil and Jerome Boateng all missing.
In a game which marked Italy keeper Gianluigi Buffon earning his 167th cap – equalling the European record – the hosts dominated the encounter but Germany also had their share of chances.
Italy’s biggest chance came eight minutes from the end with Andrea Belotti hitting the post with a low shot.
“It was a demanding game, tactically speaking,” said Germany coach Joachim Loew. “We managed to draw a lot of conclusions regarding the young players. We did it well for long stretches of the game.”
“We have now played six games in a row without conceding a goal so that is also a very positive thing.”
Italy, unbeaten at the San Siro, got off to a better start and came close with a lightning quick break but Eder failed to properly connect with a Belotti cutback in the box, leaving Bernd Leno to pick up the loose ball.
The Germans responded with a counter attack of their own and Ilkay Guendogan sent Leon Goretzka through but veteran keeper Buffon, who equalled the European record of Spain’s Iker Casillas, reacted quickly to slide in and save.
The hosts, however, kept up the pressure and forward Ciro Immobile thought he had scored when he beat the offside trap to fire past Leno only for his shot to sail narrowly wide.
“The result is acceptable seeing as we played well and gave little to the world champions,” Giampiero Ventura, Italy’s coach, told reporters.
“We played with different systems and I have to congratulate my players for their overall performance.”
Germany put the ball in the net on the hour but Kevin Volland was ruled offside.
Substitute Federico Bernardeschi almost scored with his first touch but his low drive after yet another textbook break by the Italians was saved by Leno, before Belotti hit the woodwork with his right-footed effort a little later.