Anticipation continues to grow as Germany prepare for their World Cup opener against Japan but Hansi Flick is already having to deal with injury problems. With little over 24 hours until the Group E game, the DFB announced that they would be without Leroy Sané, who suffered a knee injury in the final training session.
Even before announcing his 26-man squad, Flick had to deal with injuries to Timo Werner (RB Leipzig), Marco Reus (Borussia Dortmund) and Lukas Nmecha (Wolfsburg), all of whom would have made the final squad. Because of the Bureau of FIFA Council’s decision to increase the squad size to 26, this means there was a place for Werder Bremen’s Niclas Füllkrug, the highest-scoring German in Europe this season. There’s also a place for Youssoufa Moukoko (Borussia Dortmund), who celebrated his 18th birthday on Sunday – both players made their Germany debut last week.
Speaking ahead of Germany’s opening game, Flick has already confirmed that Manuel Neuer will start and that fans can assume that Joshua Kimmich would play in midfield. There’s no doubt that Flick will field a 4-2-3-1 but even the back four doesn’t pick itself. Niklas Süle could start at right-back – where he’s played much of the season with Borussia Dortmund – which would mean a defensive partnership of Antonio Rüdiger and Nico Schlotterbeck, or Flick has the option of starting Thilo Kehrer on the right-side.
Ahead of Germany’s game against Japan, the biggest question is who starts in attack. Flick could opt for a traditional No. 9 in Füllkrug or Chelsea’s Kai Havertz could start – behind the focal point expect to see Jamal Musiala and Serge Gnabry but with the absence of Sané, Thomas Müller remains an option.
Germany Predicted XI vs Japan
Manuel Neuer – Niklas Süle, Antonio Rüdiger, Nico Schlotterbeck, David Raum – Joshua Kimmich, Leon Goretzka – Serge Gnabry, Thomas Müller, Jamal Musiala – Kai Havertz.
GGFN | Daniel Pinder