Differences amid déjà vu for Germany and Mexico
Two familiar foes are about to face off on the big stage again. Less than a year since their thrilling semi-final at the FIFA Confederations Cup, Germany and Mexico will renew hostilities to kick off their respective 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ campaigns.
To give you an idea of what might unfold at the Luzhniki stadium on 17 June, FIFA.comanalyses the shape that the two teams are in ahead of the game and what has changed since the previous meeting, which the Germans won 4-1.
What did they do well in 2017?
Die Mannschaft were ruthless right from the start, with Leon Goretzka notching twice inside the opening eight minutes. Last year, Germany lined up with three at the back, defended deeper than usual and looked to hit Mexico on the break. Gaining such an early advantage played right into their hands, enabling them to sit back before striking again shortly after half-time, effectively settling the contest.
For their part, Mexico were left with a mountain to climb after going 2-0 down within ten minutes, being forced to chase the game. But from that moment onwards, Juan Carlos Osorio’s men played arguably their best football of the tournament, pinning the Germans back and carving out a host of chances that went begging.
What do they need to do differently this time round?
Despite the seemingly comfortable 4-1 scoreline, Germany never had a tight grip on the game. On the contrary, the Mexicans had several fine opportunities to get back into it. Die Mannschaft will hope to be just as clinical going forward as they were 12 months ago, while preventing the central Americans from dictating play and creating danger as freely as they did last time out.
Two fundamental factors proved Mexico’s undoing that night in Sochi. The first was a case of early-match jitters, with Germany’s first two goals coming on the counter-attack after Mexico had shot themselves in the foot by giving the ball away. Secondly, these errors typified an overly gung-ho approach on the whole that left Osorio’s side exposed. This time round, El Tri will have to display more composure and not allow the world champions to cut through them so effortlessly.
How have the teams changed?
Germany are much changed since last June, as Joachim Low took a youthful team to Russia 2017 as a development exercise. In fact, it was somewhat surprising to see Low name as many as 13 players who went to the Confederations Cup in his World Cup squad. These include Julian Brandt, who was chosen ahead of Leroy Sane. Another surprise was the omission of Mario Gotze, who scored the winning goal in the 2014 Final.
By contrast, there has been precious little turnover within the Mexico set-up: 18 of the 23 players present at Russia 2017 are involved again and two more would have been if not for injury. If he were that way inclined, Osorio could practically roll out the same line-up that started in Sochi, although he is sure to have some tactical tricks up his sleeve to keep Joachim Low guessing.
4 – Despite the large Russia 2017 contingent in the Germany squad, only four Mannschaftplayers who started in last year’s semi-final are expected to retain their places in the XI: right-back Joshua Kimmich, left-back Jonas Hector, midfielder Julian Draxler and forward Timo Werner.
25 – The number of shots that El Tri had in last year’s encounter, although only Marco Fabian’s 35-yard screamer found the back of the net. Mexico cannot afford to be so profligate again if they want to get something out of this game.
Jerome Boateng: “Mexico are known for their attacking, high-pressing game and we’ll have to cope with that. But I don’t think they’ll play exactly the same way that they did at the Confed Cup because we won that match pretty heavily, which is unusual against them.”
Carlos Salcedo: “We’ve worked hard on a game plan to beat Germany. They’re a team who command respect, but they’re not unbeatable. We intend to go toe to toe with them, but intelligently.”