Germany’s tactics under Joachim Löw have always been rather straightforward. In the beginning, he used counter press and has now shifted to possession and over-loading the opposition. It has seldom failed and most would claim the calamitous game against Mexico a lapse in concentration or even “Montezuma’s Revenge”. Mexico’s tactic, if we look away from the small possibility of pagan deities meddling with the World Cup, was focussed on defence, marking and counter-attacking. This was made possible through Carlos Vela’s marking of Toni Kroos, combined with quick players up front which obliterated Die Mannschaft.
Germany’s next opponents, Sweden, has a slightly different tactic. Janne Andersson’s staff tends to analyse even the slightest movement in both their own game and their opponent’s, which always produces a very well-prepared tactical set-up. So, fans would assume that Sweden will do the same as Mexico did and one would be partly correct.
Shutting down Kroos will be key. The Real Madrid midfielder is one of the best passers in the game and letting him have space and time with the ball at his feet would be tactical suicide. Fans expect Emil Forsberg or Sebastian Larsson to mark Kroos throughout the game. Germany will most probably keep on over-loading the opposition and Joshua Kimmich will be heavily involved in the Germany’s game. It will be Forsberg’s and Ludwig Augustinsson’s task to make sure he’s never allowed to cross from good positions down that right flank.
Germany should expect another type of defensive performance here. Mexico sat deep, but not nearly as deep as Sweden tend to do. There will most certainly be little to no space behind that backline so Germany will have to bend it open by force. However, the Swedish counter-attacks are not nearly as deadly as Mexico, so Germany should be fine in transition.
Going forward, Sweden’s attack is in disarray. Forsberg is out of form, Marcus Berg misses for fun and Ola Toivonen isn’t the paciest of attackers. The Swedes will have to look towards Augustinsson’s perfect deliveries from the byline and set pieces for goals and opportunities. The flanks will be key for Sweden, if they can get the ball forward and build play outside the German box, then Augustinsson’s left foot is a deadly weapon and one that needs to be closed down in an instant. We’ve seen this season at Werder Bremen how good his left foot is.
Germany are obvious favourites, but the Swedes are optimistic. They have full faith in Andersson and genuinely believe in actual miracles. Because make no mistake, only a miraculous Sweden performance could beat the Germans on Saturday.
By Axel Falk.