Spain and Germany drew a blank in their first game in UEFA European Under-21 Championship Group B with neither side able to make the breakthrough in Gothenburg.
In a cautious opening match both sides struck the woodwork, Spain's Marc Torrejón thumping a header off the crossbar and Marko Marin seeing a low shot clip the outside of the post, while Ashkan Dejagah and Mesut Özil also passed up gilt-edged chances to win the game for Germany. Spain had marginally the better of the opening half and Germany were on top in the second, but both sides struggled to create clear openings although Sergio Asenjo's crucial late stop from Özil means Spain will be more relieved with the point.
Juan Ramón López Caro had promised Spain would "play their own game" and his side were true to his word with their measured approach in sharp contrast to Germany's more direct style. José Manuel Jurado, Raúl García and Esteban Granero all tried their luck from distance inside the opening five minutes and that set the tone for the first half with both defences holding their opponents at arm's length. Torrejón did have to make two timely interventions to halt promising German attacks, though it was at the other end that the Spain centre-back nearly made his presence felt.
After Manuel Neuer had raced from his line to block after Raúl García's shot from a corner rebounded off Jerome Boateng, Torrejón was even closer from the resulting set-piece, rising to meet Granero's corner and powering a header against the crossbar. That escape sparked Germany into life, Özil wriggling free inside the penalty area and drawing a good stop from Asenjo before, with the Spain defence in retreat, Marin beat the goalkeeper with a low shot that struck the outside of the right-hand post. Five minutes after half-time Spanish supporters breathed a sigh of relief again as Ozil laid the ball into the path of Dejagah, only for the centre-forward to lift his shot into the crowd.
With senior coach Joachim Löw looking on Germany had begun the second period on the front foot, Marin heading Andreas Beck's cross over although once again clear chances were proving few and far between. Bojan Krkić struggled to make an impression against the imposing Boateng, but it was a slip from another centre-back – Spain's Chico – that nearly brought the opening goal, Dejagah squaring for Ozil to round Asenjo, whose scrambled recovery gave him the chance to turn the striker's attempt over the crossbar with his legs.
Asenjo to the rescue
The introduction of Änis Ben-Hatira brought some extra invention to the Germany attack but perspiration rather than inspiration remained the order of the day and it was not enough to find a way through a Spain side who next play England at this ground on Thursday. Germany, who face Finland in Halmstad on the same day, might have won it when Özil raced through in the final ten minutes but again the alert Asenjo was equal to the task, ensuring both teams would have to settle for a point.