German pride took a second bashing in eight days on Saturday as their Euro 2012 countdown began in earnest with a humbling 5-3 friendly defeat by Switzerland, but European champions Spain and tournament co-hosts Poland enjoyed useful victories.
A week after Germany’s biggest club Bayern Munich suffered Champions League final heartache against Chelsea, Joachim Loew’s national team were stunned by a hat-trick from Eren Derdiyok, who will not grace the finals after Switzerland failed to qualify.
It was a mixed night for the various Euro 2012 qualifiers as they fine-tuned their squads for the tournament that kicks off with Poland against Greece on June 8 in Warsaw.
World Cup runners-up the Netherlands, who like Germany are fancied to challenge for the title next month, suffered a surprise 2-1 home defeat by Bulgaria.
England, rated as outsiders after an unsettled few months following Fabio Capello’s resignation, kicked off Roy Hodgson’s tenure as national coach with a workmanlike 1-0 win in Norway — their first in the Scandinavian country for 32 years.
Spain, who are set to defend the title they won four years ago when they beat Germany in the final, fielded a below-strength side without any Barcelona players against Serbia in St Gallen, Switzerland, but still had enough in reserve for a 2-0 win.
Adrian Lopez, one of four debutants for Spain, scored the opener, with Santiago Cazorla also netting with a penalty.
However, there was concern for Spain coach Vicente del Bosque when Barca midfielder Cesc Fabregas was ruled out for up to 10 days with a hamstring strain.
Poland, staging the finals with neighbors Ukraine, beat Slovakia 1-0, although there was some disturbing news for the hosts, with second choice goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski being ruled out with a shoulder injury.
Defender Damien Perquis headed Poland’s winner in Warsaw.
Germany coach Loew did not use any Bayern Munich players against Switzerland, handing opportunities to some of the less heralded members of his squad.
However, he was given food for thought as Germany suffered their worst defeat at the hands of Switzerland since 1908.
“We made far too many mistakes,” Loew, who is set to announce his final squad later this week, told reporters. “I did not expect this result, though I knew it could be dangerous because of the many training sessions we have had until now. I knew that we could be lacking this freshness.”
Germany take on Portugal, the Netherlands and Denmark in the tournament starting in two weeks — a tough group that may be beyond some of the players who appeared on Saturday.
Derdiyok, a new signing for Bundesliga club TSG 1899 Hoffenheim, slotted Switzerland ahead after 21 minutes and struck again two minutes later with Germany’s defense in disarray.
Defender Mats Hummels pulled a goal back just before the break, but Derdiyok completed his hat-trick soon after the interval, before Andre Schuerrle made it 3-2.
In a frantic spell, Stephan Lichtsteiner and Admir Mehmedi scored for Switzerland either side of Germany’s third goal of the night from Marco Reus.
The Netherlands also have much to ponder after a surprise defeat by Bulgaria in Amsterdam.
Robin van Persie put Bert van Marwijk’s side ahead just before the break, but Ivelin Popov equalized from the penalty spot and Ilyan Mizanski grabbed the winner in stoppage-time.