Hello and welcome to Sports Mole
's live text coverage of the World Cup
clash between Germany
at the Fisht Olympic Stadium in Sochi. Die Mannschaft suffered a shock 1-0 loss
to Mexico in their opener and cannot afford any more slip-ups if they are to avoid the embarrassment of a group-stage exit.
Hello and welcome to Sports Mole
's live text coverage of the World Cup clash between Germany and Sweden at the Fisht Olympic Stadium in Sochi. Die Mannschaft suffered a shock 1-0 loss
to Mexico in their opener and cannot afford any more slip-ups if they are to avoid the embarrassment of a group-stage exit.
The full-time whistle in the other Group F match taking place today sounded around 10 minutes ago, and it is a result that makes the picture far clearer for these two sides. Mexico have claimed a 2-1 win
over South Korea at the Rostov Arena to move on to six points from their two matches, meaning that a point could well be enough to send Sweden through and knock Germany out.
GERMANY TEAM NEWS!
STARTING XI: Neuer; Kimmich, Boateng, Rudiger, Hector; Rudy, Kroos; Reus, Muller, Draxler; Werner
SUBS: Plattenhardt, Ginter, Hummels, Khedira, Ozil, Trapp, Goretzka, Sule, Brandt, Gundogan, Ter Stegen, Gomez
Starting with a look at the side fielded by Germany, boss Joachim Low
has taken drastic action on the back of the 1-0 loss to Mexico. Mesut Ozil and Sami Khedira have been dropped from the side, with the former missing his first match at a major tournament for the first time since his senior debut - a run spanning of 26 games. Marco Reus
is instead used in the hole.
Borussia Dortmund attacker Reus had been widely tipped to start for the reigning world champions, with Ozil producing another ineffective display in that last outing. Khedira also looked very poor and has lost his place to Julian Draxler, with Low opting to change things around for this crucial clash in Sochi. There are also a couple of changes at the back - Antonio Rudiger and Jonas Hector taking over from Mats Hummels and Marvin Plattenhardt respectively.
The inclusion of Sebastian Rudy in the side is also intriguing - could it see the Germans go with a back five? It is more likely that the Bayern Munich ace will slot into defensive midfield alongside the more inventive Toni Kroos, while Draxler, Reus and Thomas Muller are then tasked with providing support for Timo Werner up top. The RB Leipzig striker scored 29 goals in 43 European and Bundesliga games last term.
SWEDEN TEAM NEWS!
STARTING XI: Olsen; Lustig, Lindelof, Granqvist, Augustinsson; Claesson, Larsson, Ekdal, Forsberg; Toivonen, Berg
SUBS: Olsson, Guidetti, Johnsson, Svensson, Helander, Hiljemark, Krafth, Jansson, Rohden, Durmaz, Thelin, Nordfeldt
As far as the Blue-Yellow are concerned, Janne Andersson
has gone pretty much with the XI expected. Victor Lindelof was the big-name emission against South Korea earlier this week due to an illness bug, but he has fully recovered and has been involved in training since Thursday. The Manchester United defender slots in alongside Andreas Granqvist - the matchwinner last time out - with Pontus Jansson dropping out.
That is the only change made by the Swedes for this huge clash, meaning that they will again go with a 4-4-2 formation that is spearheaded by Ola Toivonen
and Marcus Berg. Scoring goals has proved to be a big problem for those two men up top, as it has been throughout the side, and there is some added weight on the shoulders of Emil Forsberg to step things up tonight as his side's most creative presence.
That said, Sweden do not technically have to score tonight to take a giant step towards the last 16 at Germany's expense. A goalless draw would be welcomed, so we can surely expect them to take up a defensive mindset in order to grind out the point that is required. Plenty of focus on the returning Lindelof and Granqvist in the heart of defence, then, with the latter becoming the oldest player to score on his World Cup debut since Martin Palermo in 2010.
Germany manager Joachim Low makes four changes to his side on the back of the surprise 1-0 loss to Mexico, leaving out Sami Khedira and Mesut Ozil and instead going with Julian Draxler and Sebastian Rudy. There are also changes at full-back and centre-back, so the man in charge was clearly unhappy with that result last weekend.
The team ranked at number one in the world, and the defending world champions at that, have 90 minutes to rescue themselves. Following their 1-0 loss to Mexico, and El Tri's triumph against South Korea a little earlier, Die Mannschaft now have to take all three points from this second Group F outing and then get the job done against the Koreans next week. The pressure is well and truly on!
Germany, inevitably, were heavily backed to go all the way in Russia. All it took for a few of those predictions to be revised, though, was a strike from Hirving Lozano six days ago, completely changing the picture for Joachim Low
's men. Throw some poor pre-tournament form into the mix, and you can see why those wearing German tops in the stands tonight are more than a little nervous.
Plenty of questions needs answering as far as the 2014 champions are concerned, then, as they prepare to walk a tightrope in Sochi. It is worth mentioning at this point that three of the last four World Cup winners have exited the following competition at the group stage, and that is the way Germany appear to be heading if not for a vastly improved showing tonight.
Next week's meeting with South Korea would often be seen as a banker but, as Mexico showed, nothing can be taken for granted in Russia. This is the tougher of the two tests, though, and a point is not what Low is here for. That would leave Die Mannschaft on one point, while Sweden would climb to four ahead of their showdown with Mexico, who are themselves on the brink of qualifying for the last 16.
No team has won consecutive World Cups since Brazil between 1958 and 1962, and on the basis of what we have seen in recent weeks Germany will surely not take that record away from the Selecao. The Germans have an abundance of riches throughout their ranks, so much so that Manchester City ace Leroy Sane could not even make their squad, and Low is making use of that tonight with his four changes.
It is no great surprise that Germany were favourites with some bookmakers to go all the way in Russia, as they have only become stronger since lifting the trophy in 2014, as witnessed at the Confederations Cup last summer with a second-string side. There is a fear that they have become a little too stale, though, and that could be behind Low's reasoning as to why he dropped Ozil and Khedira tonight.
Timo Werner has added an extra dimension to Die Mannschaft's frontline, allowing them to use a conventional striker rather than use an attacking midfielder through the middle, yet in some ways that appears to have taken away the strengths of Muller alongside him. Muller has 10 World Cup goals from 14 shots, but he has gone 239 minutes without registering and was the only outfield Germany player not to get a shot away against Mexico.
That is a pretty remarkable fact, with Germany registering 26 shots in total against the Mexicans - the highest tally for a non-scoring side since the 2006 World Cup. Die Mannschaft named their oldest starting lineup in that match at 27 years and 310 days since the 2002 final, but that has been rectified a little this evening. Incidentally, that was also their first competitive loss since going down 2-0 to France in the Euro 2016 semi-finals.
A first competitive defeat, but the Germans have now lost three of their last four when accounting for friendlies. Their form running up to the World Cup was terrible, and it is now just the one win in seven matches since October. That loss to Mexico that leaves Germany's hopes in the balance was their first opening-game defeat in the World Cup since going down to Algeria in 1982.
Germany have not lost back-to-back World Cup finals matches since 1974. They also lost successive matches in 1958 when - and could this be an omen? - they tasted defeat at the hands of Sweden in the semi-finals. A draw would not officially knock them out tonight, but it would well and truly leave them on the brink of a group-stage exit.
Sweden are in good shape ahead of this second Group F outing, as they edged past South Korea with a 1-0 win. The Blue-Yellow are ranked at 24th in the world and are participating in the finals for the 12th time, but this is their first participation in the biggest tournament of them all since 2006. Progressing out of the group is something they are used to, doing so on each of their last three involvements.
This is the first time since 2000 that Sweden have competed at a major tournament without the iconic figure that is Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The Scandinavian outfit may look weaker on paper as a result, and there is no doubt that even in his latter years Zlatan could still do a job in this side, but on the flipside the team spirit is better than ever. That, combined with some talented players in each position, makes the Blue-Yellow a possible dark horse.
Marcus Berg, Ola Toivonen and Emil Forsberg have not exactly been firing, though, and it took a penalty from Andreas Granqvist to help Sweden overcome South Korea. A VAR review was needed to aid that win, and in fairness Andersson's men were good value for the three points. But squandering chances from open play tonight, in much the same way they did five days ago, will surely mean a different outcome.
DID YOU KNOW? Victory against South Korea in Nizhny Novgorod gave Sweden their first opening-game win at the World Cup since 1958, drawing five and losing two side then. 1958 was also the year that they last won back-to-back matches at the finals; they would go on to reach the final of the competition on home soil, where they lost to a Pele-inspired Brazil.
With kickoff at the Fisht Olympic Stadium now 10 minutes away, let us check out some pre-match thoughts from both camps.
Joachim Low: "This week the players have shown a reaction in training, but Saturday is what counts. We have to see a reaction and a difference when it comes to performance on the pitch. I'm convinced they will show the right reaction. We have to deliver and if we win we're back in the race. We'll see how the tournament goes on after that."
Janne Andersson: "This is really what you spend entire life towards. Not enjoying it because it's a tough job. We're going to make the most of it. Extraordinary to be involved in this and a match of this magnitude. Whether we knock them out is one thing, but we can qualify on our own which is quite extraordinary."
Germany boss Low has praised his player for the way that they have responded in training on the back of their shock defeat to Mexico. For the first time in 80 years Germany are facing an early exit, requiring a point to keep their tournament hopes alive. Even a draw, though, would be seen as a poor result, with Sweden and Mexico both better placed heading into the final round of fixtures.
Andersson insists that Sweden will "make the most" of their big opportunity. The picture is clear for them - win tonight and they will join Mexico in the last 16 of the tournament; a huge turn-up for the books and surely the biggest story to come out of this World Cup. Defeat, though, and all of a sudden it is all delicately-poised in Group F heading into next week's final round.
PREVIOUS MEETINGS! Germany, in their current guise as well as their West Germany days, have won six and drawn five of their last 11 matches against Sweden since 1978. The two most recent outings between these sides has produced 16 goals, including a 4-4 draw in October 2012 when the Blue-Yellow were four goals down, and a 5-3 World Cup 2014 qualifying win for Die Mannschaft.
Germany have won three of their four World Cup meetings with Sweden; their only loss coming in the 1958 semi-finals. Extending that run to four wins from five is a must for the Germans tonight, as they look to get their campaign back on track. Should the Blue-Yellow do the unthinkable and pick up all three points, Joachim Low's charges will be heading back home.
KICKOFF! We are up and running in this final match on day 10 of the 2018 World Cup. All eyes are on Germany, who have to break down Sweden and pick up victory to claw themselves back in contention for a last-16 spot.
CHANCE! Germany come so close to making a dream start in Sochi. Joshua Kimmich got a cross in from the right and Julian Draxler was there to meet it, but the midfielder's shot was blocked right in front of goal by Sebastian Larsson. Sweden then somehow scrambled the ball away.
Werner was also unable to turn the ball home from close range in that early scare for Sweden. Jonas Hector has just had a shot blocked and Marco Reus was unable to find a way through. Germany completely bossing this game early on here.
Emil Forsberg attempts to charge right through the heart of Germany's defence. The RB Leipzig man was blocked off the ball, but the referee felt that it was done by legal means. Sweden already showing that they will focus on counters tonight.
Die Mannschaft really starting to turn the screw now, as Draxler gets in around the back but is unable to find the back of the net or a teammate. Reus is then in down the other flank, only for his cross to be blocked behind by Lindelof.
Eleven minutes played and Germany quite clearly mean business. One big chance so far, with Draxler's close-range shot being blocked, while a few different players have also been played in behind. This could be a long night for the Swedes.
Kimmich is seeing plenty of the ball down the right. Germany have played pretty much all the game inside Sweden's final third so far, being allowed to knock it around and sooner or later they will make their opponents pay.
SAVE! A huge, huge moment in Sochi! Marcus Berg burst through on goal as Sweden were given a chance to counter, but his shot was saved by the outrushing Manuel Neuer. Right as he was shooting, Jerome Boateng made contact, yet VAR was not used.
I'm shocked that the referee did not refer to VAR on that occasion. Boateng did make contact with Berg - whether or not it was enough to warrant a penalty is up for debate. Either way, the striker should have been burying the chance.
Germany, so dominant right from the off, were undone by that one ball through the middle. Having seen another replay of the incident, I'd say that Polish official Szymon Marciniak should have been pointing to the penalty spot.
The knockdown from Lustig is right into the path of Berg, who gets a shot away. Boateng did very well to get his boot in the way, blocking the ball aside. This is now a very balanced match - perfect for the neutrals among us!
Rudy's shot from around 25 yards is well off target. More than a quarter of the match played at the Fisht Olympic Stadium and we are still awaiting the breakthrough goal. Germany have been the better side; Sweden have squandered the better chance.
The big talking point so far in Sochi has been the lack of VAR use. There is a debate to be had whether Boateng's shove on Berg was a penalty - I believe it was - but either way the referee surely should have been given the chance to review the decision.
Boateng is at risk of being left completely exposed every time there is a turnover. Sebastian Rudy is currently down in a bad way with blood streaming from his nose. The makeshift defensive midfielder will need some treatment before returning.
Germany were well in control in the opening 15 minutes but it has been far more balanced since then. The Blue-Yellow have edged possession over the past few minutes, in fact, and a deep cross had to be headed behind by Jonas Hector.
Sebastian Rudy, not exactly looking all too comfortable, is on the sideline ready to come back on. Sweden still have a one-man advantage for the time being - can they make it count? This Group F match is finely-poised.
GERMANY SUB! Well Sebastian Rudy was stood on the touchline ready to come out, only to then slam his shirt into the ground. He was clearly given word that his head injury is too serious to risk, so on comes Ilkay Gundogan.
GOAL! GERMANY 0-1 SWEDEN (OLA TOIVONEN)
WOW! This is a brilliant goal from Sweden to leave Germany on the brink. Viktor Claesson sent the ball over the top and Ola Toivonen was able to loft it over a helpless Manuel Neuer. Joachim Low looks completely stunned on the sideline!
That really was a classy finish from Toivonen, cushioning the ball on his chest and then lifting it over the onrushing Neuer. Sweden are in dreamland, potentially just 55 minutes from booking their place in the last 16 of the World Cup.
The game's best two chances have fallen Sweden's way, and they have scored from one of them to leave Germany completely rattled. Die Mannschaft boss Joachim Low has used one change and may well make a second when half time arrives.
DOUBLE SAVE! Great goalkeeping from Robin Olsen. The Copenhagen stopper got down to his right to push aside Ilkay Gundogan's shot, and was then up to deny Thomas Muller from the follow-up. Muller felt he was pulled down by Lustig - I don't think he was.
Lustig deserves credit for preventing Muller from getting a clean shot away from that previous attack. The Celtic man knocked the ball on to Muller and Olsen then did the rest. Kimmich swings the ball into the middle, and Lustig is again there to clear.
CHANCE! A reminder that, as things stand, Germany are on their way out of the World Cup. Sweden again counter and Viktor Claesson is left over on the right, but he opts to cut inside and the chance goes begging before he can get a clean shot away.
Hector got a touch to the ball to deny Claesson a clear shot on goal from that previous attack. Sweden may well rue failing to take their chances, as Germany will surely only improve in the second half. Sixty seconds of the half left to play.
HALF TIME: GERMANY 0-1 SWEDEN
Manuel Neuer pulls off a fine save to prevent his side from going into half time two behind. Marcus Berg did all that he possibly could, directing his header towards the far corner of the net, but Neuer reached the ball at full stretch. What a gripping first half that was!
Knowing that even a point will leave their hopes of progression hanging in the balance, Germany started the match in a dominant fashion. Julian Draxler, brought into the side in place of Mesut Ozil as one of four changes following the 1-0 loss to Mexico six days ago, turned Joshua Kimmich's cross goalwards but saw it blocked in front of the target. Kimmich, Draxler and Marco Reus were having plenty of joy in the final third, though possession did not equate to chances and the flow of the game soon changed.
Sweden's big chance to open the scoring looked to have past them by when Manuel Neuer raced out to deny Marcus Berg from a one-on-one position. Berg and his teammates were furious with the Polish officials, though, as they felt that Jerome Boateng shoved the striker as he was about to make contact, yet VAR was not even consulted.
The Blue-Yellow knew that they would get further chances on the counter, though, and so it proved a little over a third of the way through as Viktor Claesson sent the ball over the top for Ola Toivonen, who controlled it with his chest then lofted it over the onrushing Neuer. Germany came close to a quick response, with Robin Olsen pushing aside substitute Ilkay Gundogan's 25-yarder and then, thanks to some help from Mikel Lustig, thwarting Thomas Muller from the rebound.
Sweden were left wondering how they went into the break with just a goal to their name, however, as Claesson failed to make the most of a glorious chance inside the box following another swift move, and Marcus Berg was somehow denied by a fine Neuer save from the final act of a gripping opening 45 minutes. Will either manager make a change at the interval?
GERMANY SUBS: Plattenhardt, Ginter, Hummels, Khedira, Ozil, Trapp, Goretzka, Sule, Brandt, Ter Stegen, Gomez
SWEDEN SUBS: Olsson, Guidetti, Johnsson, Svensson, Helander, Hiljemark, Krafth, Jansson, Rohden, Durmaz, Thelin, Nordfeldt
RESTART! We are back under way at the Fisht Olympic Stadium in Sochi. There is news of a second Germany change to bring you from the interval - Mario Gomez has come on for Julian Draxler. Will that make any difference for the reigning champions?
GOAL! GERMANY 1-1 SWEDEN (MARCOS REUS)
Germany are on level terms in Sochi, just three minutes after the restart. Timo Werner cut the ball back into the middle, and it bobbled up nicely for Marcos Reus to connect with. The shot actually looked to hit his knee, but either way it flew past Robin Olsen.
Much like in the first half, Germany have started the second well on top. Sweden are being pegged back now and need to hold on. A point would not be a bad result for them, whereas Germany would see this as a poor outcome - even if they were a goal down.
CLOSE! Toni Kroos sends a quality delivery into the box from a set piece, and Thomas Muller got on the end of it. When he goes for goal he tends to find it at the World Cup, though on this occasion the header was wide of the target.
YELLOW CARD! The first caution of the second period is shown to Sweden midfielder Albin Ekdal for barging into opposite number Toni Kroos. Die Mannschaft are knocking on the door for a second goal in Sochi.
SAVE! That is the first goal that Sweden have conceded in 548 minutes, and since then they have been unable to get at their opponents. Jonas Hector is picked out in the box and gets a shot away, but Olsen read it well and gathered down low.
Just short of an hour played in Sochi and Janne Andersen may well be weighing up whether to make a change or two. Sweden have not got going in this second half, but as things stand they are on course for a pretty impressive result.
Kimmich with a cross in from the right and Reus really should have been converting. The Borussia Dortmund man tried to be too clever and in the end he failed to make any contact with the ball from six yards out.
This has been a great game of football. It is all rather one-way at the moment, with Germany dominating possession, yet much like in the first half Sweden know that chances will arise on the counter-attack if they can just hold on.
Sweden at risk of dropping a little too deep now, not helped by their lack of out-ball. Joachim Low needs to use his third and final change wisely, with his side racking up the shot count now - Kroos becoming the latest to have a pop.
Robin Olsen can only flap at a low cross that took a deflection on its way through. The Blue-Yellow really having to hold on now. Surprised that Janne Andersson has held off from making a change for as long as he has.
Mario Gomez, brought on at the interval in place of Draxler, lifts the ball over the bar from four yards out. A howler of a miss, but the offside flag had gone up anyway. Not sure how much longer Sweden can hold out for.
YELLOW CARD! Another Germany attack comes to an end. Emil Forsberg decides to take matters into his own hand by running at three opposition players, and he is eventually wiped out by Jerome Boateng for the game's second yellow.
CLOSE! Timo Werner gets to the byline and sends the ball into the middle. Andreas Granqvist so nearly turned the ball into his own net, if not for the intervention of Robin Olsen. This is relentless from Germany!
SWEDEN SUB! At long last, Sweden manager Janne Andersson has turned to his bench. Jimmy Durmaz is introduced in place of Viktor Claesson for the final 15 minutes of this tight affair. So much on the line in Sochi!
SAVE! Sweden relieve some of the growing pressure by winning a corner. It is cleared as far as the talented Emil Forsberg, whose volley from outside the box was well dealt with by Manuel Neuer.
SWEDEN SUB! Sweden make their second alteration, bringing on John Guidetti for Ola Toivonen, whose goal put the Blue-Yellow in dreamland an hour or so ago. Both managers have one change available to make should they wish.
CHANCE! Berg looked to be through on goal, but Boateng got across well and the offside flag came to Germany's rescue, too. Up the other end, Timo Werner shoots wide when picked out unmarked in the centre of the box.
RED CARD! This game just keeps on giving! Jerome Boateng is shown a second yellow card for a challenge on Berg. Szymon Marciniak initially continued the game without booking the defender, but he must have been given word in his ear because the yellow then came out.
Neuer slips when a delivery comes into the box but redeems himself at the last moment to punch the ball away. Sweden must now decide whether to stick or twist. Germany, on the other hand, have to go for it with just 10 men on the field.
Word is that the referee was waiting for Berg to get to his feet before cautioning Boateng, explaining the delay in reaching into his pocket. Germany's third and final change is made, as Julian Brandt is on for Jonas Hector.
SAVE! Germany have just two defenders on the field for these closing stages. Joachim Low knows that a point really is not good enough. What a save from Olsen, sticking out his left hand to turn Mario Gomez's header over the bar!
OFF THE POST! Oh my word! This is incredible! Julian Brandt's strike flies through a number of bodies, hits the post and ends at the feet of Muller, who could not adjust his body. Germany are doing everything but score!
We are three minutes into the five added on in Sochi. On the basis of the previous 48 minutes, there is still time for Germany to create at least three more chances! Reus cannot quite control the ball when it is played into the area.
GOAL! GERMANY 2-1 SWEDEN (TONI KROOS)
You cannot write scripts like this! Germany have completed the turnaround in the fifth minute of added time. Toni Kroos caught out the keeper by taking on the free kick from a pretty tight angle, sending it curling into the far corner.
FULL TIME: GERMANY 2-1 SWEDEN
The thrilling contest comes to a close. Spain's 3-3 draw with Portugal was always going to take some beating, but if it is drama you are after then this match is a very close second in what is shaping up to be a World Cup to remember. Germany were heading for the exit, only for Marco Reus to level up and then Toni Kroos to win it in added time.
That concludes Sports Mole
's live text coverage of events from Sochi. An on-the-whistle report can be found by clicking here
, while a recap of the other games from today can be viewed here
. Thanks for joining!