Germany’s recent poor run of form continued when they lost to Mexico in the opening game. They now face a rock-solid Swedish team, who have kept six consecutive clean sheets in competitive matches. This is a must-win game for the world champions to stand a chance of making it to the Round of 16.
After an easy qualification to the World Cup, Germany had a rough run in the build-up to the tournament. The Germans won just once in their previous seven games and that solo win was a 2-1 victory over minnows Saudi Arabia.
Germany became the third defending champion in the last 16 years to lose their opening match at the World Cup, after losing 1-0 to Mexico. History is against the Germans as three of the last four champions have crashed out in the group stages – France in 2002, Italy in 2010 and Spain in 2014.
The Germans didn’t create enough chances against Mexico and every time they pushed forward they left big spaces at the back and the Mexicans had a few clear cut chances to put the game to bed but they were rather wasteful upfront.
I’m expecting changes from Joachim Low with Jonas Hector likely to start at left-back and I’m also expecting him to change the midfield after the combination of Julian Draxler, Thomas Muller and Mesut Ozil failed to connect, with Ilkay Gundogan and Marco Reus players the German coach could look to.
We mentioned how good Sweden are at the back before the opening game and they proved it when they weren’t troubled at all in the first game, keeping a clean sheet without first-choice centre-back Victor Lindelof, with the Manchester United defender missing the opener due to an illness bug.
Sweden were on top in the first half, with their main striker Marcus Berg failing to convert from close range, forcing a fine save out of South Korean goalkeeper Cho Hyun Woo.
Sweden coach Janne Andersson seemed quite impressed with his side’s attacking display, saying after the game, “The best player from South Korea was their goalkeeper.”
The Swedes have met the Germans five times, with the world champions having the advantage of three wins and two draws, meaning Sweden have never beaten the Germans and we can’t rule out a first win after the Scandinavians’ impressive run of form against the top teams.
Probable line ups:
Neuer; Kimmich, Boateng, Hummels, Hector; Kroos, Gundogan; Muller, Reus, Ozil; Werner.
Olsen; Lustig, Lindelof, Granqvist, Augustinsson; Claesson, Larsson, Ekdal, Forsberg; Marcus Berg, Toivonen.
Prediction: Under 2.5 Goals (8/10)
Sweden have been strong at the back, whilst Germany have been struggling recently and they are rather short at 4/10 against a fairly decent team. So I’ll play it safe and back Under 2.5 Goals in this game, which for me is a good price.
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