Nothing less than three points will do for Germany when they take on Sweden in Sochi on Saturday evening. The world champions are under huge pressure after suffering a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Mexico in their opening game. Having reached the semi-final stages at every World Cup since 2002, Germany must now re-group if they want to replicate that success. Die Mannschaft take on a Sweden side who won their opening game against South Korea.
Manager Joachim Löw has said that he will not change too much and although drastic changes are not expected, he would have been alarmed at his side’s largely lacklustre display. After the Mexico defeat the manager said that: “We didn’t play to our best at all. We obviously need to reflect on what happened and get back on track. We will learn our lessons and be better in the next game.” The defeat would have come as a shock to the system for Germany’s squad who were deservedly beaten by a vibrant and exciting Mexico side.
It leaves Germany in trouble in the group and Thomas Müller admitted that: “We have to win both games and the pressure on us is enormous,” in Wednesday’s pre-match press conference. He does remain confident however and said that patience is key: “The crux is that composure can’t be trained. Now we need to show patience and purpose.”
Müller himself is under pressure for a starting berth after a largely anonymous display against Mexico. Low has demonstrated that he is loyal to the players that have served him so well over the years. He is likely to keep his place for the Sweden game but he is vulnerable with such able deputies eager to take over.
Jonas Hector should replace Marvin Plattenhardt at left-back after recovering from illness and it would not be a surprise if Ilkay Gündogan came into the side at the expense of the hugely disappointing Sami Khedira. Marco Reus looks as if he will come into the side to replace Mesut Özil while at the back, there’s been murmurs as to whether Mats Hummels will start after missing the final training session with a neck injury.
Probable Germany XI: Neuer, Kimmich, Boateng, Rüdiger, Hector, Gundogan, Kroos, Reus, Müller, Draxler, Werner.
Prediction: Joachim Löw’s side would have undoubtedly done a lot of soul-searching in the past week. They come up against a well-organised Sweden team who will relish the challenge and opportunity to eliminate the champions. Germany is a wounded animal and their greater quality should be enough to see them over the line. Germany 2-0 Sweden.
By Jonathan Shelley.