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Fans flock to Germany's first World Cup training session

© AFP | Germany's goalkeeper Manuel Neuer trains in Russia

VATUTINKI (RUSSIA) (AFP) - 

Germany got down to business in the defence of their World Cup title on Wednesday with their first training session in Russia, which was open to the public.

Around 400 spectators, who needed tickets to see the world champions in action, and 200 media saw head coach Joachim Loew put the German squad through their paces in a series of short matches.

Dozens of ticketless locals had to wait outside as security was tight at the CSKA Moscow training complex near the Germany team hotel in Vatutinki, a 45-minute drive from Moscow.

Captain Manuel Neuer looked sharp, making several saves even though the goalkeeper has only just returned from eight months sidelined by a fractured foot.

Manchester City midfielder Ilkay Gundogan also impressed amid off-field rumblings after he and Mesut Ozil were criticised for posing alongside Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan last month.

Defender Mats Hummels, plus wingers Marco Reus and Julian Brandt also stood out.

Centre-back Jerome Boateng was lacking sharpness after only recently returning from a groin injury.

Arsenal midfielder Ozil, who is refusing to comment on the Erdogan controversy, trained despite missing Friday's 2-1 friendly win over Saudi Arabia with a knee injury.

Both Ozil and Gundogan were booed by disgruntled German fans in the shock 2-1 away defeat against Austria earlier this month following their perceived support for Erdogan.

Gundogan has insisted their meeting with the Turkish leader was not politically motivated.

A large group of children from Moscow's German school were among the enthusiastic spectators and Loew had to ask for quiet from the excited youngsters so he could brief his players.

Germany open their World Cup campaign at Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium on Sunday when they face Mexico. Their other opponents in Group F are Sweden and South Korea.

© 2018 AFP