Germany v Sweden preview
Germany will be looking for their first win of the 2018 World Cup when they take on Sweden in their second Group F game on Saturday.
The reigning champions lost 1-0 to Mexico in their opening match, and have not lost back-to-back matches in the same World Cup finals since 1958 – when they lost to Sweden in the semi-final and France in the third-place match.
Joachim Low has promised that there will be a reaction from Germany and says he is unlikely to make wholesale changes to a side that helped win the competition in 2014.
“It was no doubt a painful defeat against Mexico. We made many mistakes but we have processed them, talked about them and trained to avoid them,” he said.
“There is absolute focus and concentration and tomorrow we must deliver. There will be a reaction (to the Mexico defeat).
“Why should that [changing the XI] be the case? The fundamental trust for these players, who have played for years on a good level, will not be destroyed with one game.”
Sweden were 1-0 winners against South Korea in their first game and could make the last 16 with a victory, which coach Janne Andersson has called ‘extraordinary’.
“This is really what you spend your whole career and life working towards. It is an extraordinary opportunity to be involved in a World Cup match like this,” he said.
“Whether we knock out Germany is one thing, but we have a chance to qualify and that is extraordinary.”
Germany are expected to without Mats Hummels after sustaining a neck injury, with Antonio Rudiger likely to take his place should Hummels’ health not improve.
Low also said forward Mario Gomez was likely to start but did not clarify if he would join Timo Werner in attack or if he would operate as a lone striker.
Sweden have been hit with a stomach bug ahead of the game in Sochi, with Pontus Jansson, Filip Helander and Marcus Rohden staying behind at the training base although they are expected to travel to the game on Saturday morning.
Victor Lindelof – who missed the game against South Korea through illness – could return, although Isaac Kiese Thelin is a doubt with an ankle problem.
Germany are unbeaten in their last 11 games against Sweden (W6 D5), with the Scandinavians’ last win coming 40 years ago in April 1978 (3-1).
The two most recent matches between these sides have produced a total of 16 goals – with a 4-4 draw in Germany in October 2012 before Sweden lost 5-3 at home in qualifying for the 2014 World Cup.
Germany lost their opening match against Mexico, only the second time they’d lost their opener at a World Cup, also losing against Algeria in 1982. However, they reached the final of the competition that year.
Sweden have faced the reigning World Cup champion at the World Cup twice before and won both times – in 1950 against Italy and 1958 against Germany.
Sweden’s 1-0 win against South Korea was their first win in their opening match at a World Cup since beating Mexico 3-0 as hosts in 1958 – they also last won consecutive World Cup matches back in the 1958 edition en route to the final.
Sweden’s goal versus South Korea was the first they’d scored in 402 minutes of international football since Ola Toivonen scored against Chile back in March.
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Germany’s Thomas Müller has scored 10 goals from just 14 shots on target at the World Cup – however, Müller was the only outfield Germany player to not register a single shot in their defeat to Mexico and he hasn’t had a shot in his last 239 minutes of World Cup football.