World Cup holders Germany kick start their defence this afternoon with a tough clash against Mexico in the Luzhniki Stadium.
Form certainly suggests that Germany will start off well given they’ve won their opening game in each of their last seven World Cups, which includes scoring 20 goals in their past four opening fixtures.
Since qualifying for the tournament with maximum points, Germany have failed to impress but we know that Joachim Löw likes to experiment with his sides in the lead up to the tournament.
Arguably the biggest talking point when the squad was announced is the exclusion of Manchester City’s Leroy Sané with Bayer Leverkusen’s Julian Brandt getting the nod.
This certainly caused uproar outside of German football, with fans expecting Sané to be in the side after an impressive Premier League campaign. However, the 22-year-old has failed to impress when given playing time in the Germany national team.
With Germany’s starting XI almost set in stone with everyone fit, Löw has a big decision to make regarding the World Cup campaigns of both Ilkay Gündogan and Mesut Özil.
Löw warned the duo to expect boos during their opening game following their meeting with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan last month. Following that meeting, Gündogan and Özil faced the wrath from their football association (DFB), fans and politicians in Germany with boos present during their warm-up games against Austria and Saudi Arabia.
With that said, reports this week has suggested that we may see Borussia Dortmund’s Marco Reus, who had an impressive finish to the Bundesliga campaign, start centrally in place of Özil but it has since emerged that the Arsenal man could in fact start.
One to watch: Julian Draxler (PSG) – The obvious player here would be Timo Werner or Thomas Müller but with the inclusion of former Schalke and Wolfsburg midfielder Julian Draxler, Joachim Löw has a player who can offer a new dynamic, perhaps like that of Mario Götze four years ago.
Löw has already confirmed that Draxler will be starting vs Mexico, telling reporters: “He took a huge step forward at the Confederations Cup, being captain too. I’m a fan of his ability. He can make a difference.”
The 24-year-old has earned 44 caps for Germany, scoring six goals.
Probable Germany XI: Neuer – Kimmich, Boateng, Hummels, Hector – Khedira, Kroos – Müller, Özil, Draxler – Werner.
Prediction: Mexico come into this game on the back of a 2-0 defeat to Denmark. That said, they still have a very technical squad with players such as Hirving Lozano, Jesus Corona and Carlos Vela that could cause Germany problems. Even if Özil isn’t to start, Löw has enough quality at his disposal that should see Die Mannschaft through, albeit a close-fought affair. Germany 1-0 Mexico.