MX23RW : Monday, September 20 20:40:24| >> :600:1168343:1168343:
Jun 23, 2018 at 7pm UK at Fisht Olympic Stadium
Attendance: 44,287
Reus (48'), Kroos (90')
FT(HT: 0-1)
Toivonen (32')

Preview: Germany vs. Sweden - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole provides predicted XIs, team news and a full match preview for the World Cup fixture between Germany and Sweden in Group F.

Germany head into their Group F showdown with Sweden knowing that they must avoid defeat in order to maintain any realistic hope of avoiding their first opening-round exit since 1938.

Sweden's victory over South Korea sees the Scandinavian nation sit at the top of the group and depending on the outcome of the earlier game between South Korea and Mexico, Janne Andersson and his side could eliminate the defending champions from the tournament.


Germany manager Joachim Low on March 27, 2018© Reuters

Germany went into this competition on the back of just one victory in six matches, but the expectation was that the 2014 winners would be able to click into business mode from the opening whistle in their first game with Mexico.

However, Joachim Low's side never fully recovered from a fast start from El Tri and although Germany had their moments throughout the fixture in Moscow, there could be no complaints after suffering a 1-0 defeat.

In the past, Germany have progressed deep in tournaments through uncompromising defending and a ruthless streak in the final third, but neither of those traits was on show on Sunday evening and Low must find a way of lifting his players for two crucial fixtures.

There will not be too much panic within the camp at this stage, but there will be an acknowledgment that improvements need to be made in all areas, and Low himself will accept that he may have to make significant alterations to his starting lineup.

Mesut Ozil was largely ineffective and has received the most criticism but it is unfair to place the blame solely at the feet of the Arsenal playmaker, who must feel a frequent pressure to quiet his detractors for club and country.

The only players to come out of the game with any credit were Joshua Kimmich - although the right-back's play in attack came at a cost - and attacking pair Julian Draxler and Julian Brandt, with the latter making an impression during the closing stages.

Outside of the camp, it appears that this squad possesses the ideal balance of talent, age and experience to go far in this tournament but more and more cracks have started to appear and Saturday's result against Sweden could ultimately determine whether Low continues in his role.

The 58-year-old has only recently penned a contract extension but that may count for little if Germany cannot record maximum points in Sochi and against South Korea next week.

Recent form: DDLLWL


Sweden manager Janne Andersson on November 13, 2017© Reuters

When Sweden qualify for a major tournament, they always carry respect and that has been the case in the build-up to this tournament after seeing off Italy in the playoffs late last year.

Blagult have not qualified for the last two World Cups, but this weekend they have the opportunity to contribute to one of the biggest shocks in recent World Cup history and they will do so having already recorded an opening-game win over South Korea.

Sweden were by far the better team in Nizhny Novgorod - seeing more of the ball and creating the better chances - but it took the intervention of VAR to secure the three points, with Andreas Granqvist eventually scoring from the spot.

The delay in making the decision had the potential to affect the centre-back, but the captain was calmness personified from 12 yards and there is a composure about this team which could frustrate Germany.

Coach Andersson has dared his team to "do even more" in this competition, with it initially being expected that Sweden, Mexico and South Korea would all be willing to accept the runners-up spot in Group F behind Germany.

However, the goal posts have been moved and if Mexico defeat South Korea in the early game, victory for Sweden over the four-time winners will result in their early exit.

Germany remain as favourites for this game and Sweden's results in the build-up to this tournament suggest that they have their flaws, but it has now been 12 matches since this team conceded more than two goals in an international fixture.

That run included back-to-back clean sheets against Italy in a high-pressure situation, and Sweden will not be overawed by the potential rewards on offer with success on Saturday.

Recent form: DLLDDW

Team News

Mesut Ozil in action for Germany against Austria on June 2, 2018© Reuters

Low must decide whether to make changes to his starting lineup, with Ozil at risk of losing his spot in the side to Marco Reus or Brandt.

There are also doubts regarding Sami Khedira, and that could lead to the inclusion of either Ilkay Gundogan or Leon Goretzka.

Mario Gomez may also come in for Timo Werner, but Low may opt to keep faith in his back four.

Barring any late fitness issues, Andersson could decide to select the same XI which began the fixture against South Korea.

Germany possible starting lineup:
Neuer; Kimmich, Boateng, Hummels, Plattenhardt; Gundogan, Kroos; Brandt, Muller, Draxler; Gomez

Sweden possible starting lineup:
Olsen; Lustig, Granqvist, Augustinsson, Jansson; Larsson, Ekdal, Forsberg, Claesson; Berg, Toivonen

Head To Head

Saturday's fixture represents the 37th meeting between the two nations, with Germany registering 15 victories in comparison to 13 wins for Sweden.

However, just five matches have been staged in this millennium - all between 2006 and 2013 - with Germany avoiding defeat in each encounter.

The most recent clash was a bizarre one, with Germany prevailing by a 5-3 scoreline in Stockholm with Germany having already qualified for the 2014 World Cup and Sweden already holding down a playoff spot.

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We say: Germany 2-1 Sweden

We expect a change in approach from Germany to lead to a tighter game in Sochi and while that could suit both teams, Germany have the greater firepower to secure three crucial points from this contest.

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Joachim Low at a Germany press conference on May 24, 2018
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