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Four years have gone by and Germany are ready to defend their title in Russia. On Sunday, at Moscow’s iconic Luzhniki Stadium, Mexico will be their first opponents.
Germany have once again been tipped by bookies to go all the way in Russia, but the history of the game is loaded against such a possibility. Since Garrincha’s Brazil in 1962, no team has ever defended the trophy. Instead, the fate of Spain in 2014, Italy in 2010 and France in 2002 – all three exited in the first round – shows it is not easy being the defending champions.
ALSO READ: Troubled Germany look to make World Cup statement against Mexico
Loew has filled the team with fresh faces and Goetze has failed to make the cut. He started only in 39 league games in the last three seasons. Andre Schurrle, the man who delivered that cross to Goetze at the Maracana, is not there either.
New stars have emerged from the famous German supply chain – Julian Draxler, Leon Goretzka, Sebastian Rudi, Julian Brandt and Timo Werner. Young but rich in experience and nourished well since their triumphal march in 2014.
Before travelling to Russia, Germany had trained in South Tyrol, Italy. “After the training camp in South Tyrol and friendlies against Austria and Saudi Arabia, it was important to get a little rest. The team lacked rhythm, especially in the friendlies. But that’s not unusual after several hard training sessions,” Loew had said before praising the facilities at Watutinki, their Russian base camp.
Despite the upset against Austria and an unimpressive show against the Saudis, Loew is confident about the preparations for the opener against Mexico. “Mexico is a fast and technically solid opponent.
They will demand everything of us, but we will find the appropriate solutions. I’m optimistic that we’ll present ourselves well.”
Germany outclassed Mexico in the 2017 Confederations Cup, winning 4-1. Given Germany’s depth in squad and abundance of talent in the midfield, Juan Carlos Osorio’s Mexico may find the going extremely difficult. West Ham’s Javier Hernandez and PSV Eindhoven’s Hirving Lozano are his only attacking weapons.
In Toni Kroos, Sami Khedira, Mesut Ozil and Ilkay Gundogan, Germany boasts of an array of superbly accomplished players who can be the envy of any team.
Thomas Mueller, who doesn’t like to be called a striker because he is an ‘interpreter of space’, scored five in 2010 World Cup and another five in 2014. Is there any software to counter this perfectly-programmed machine? Mexico will find it out in their Group F encounter on Sunday.