A grave challenge faces the defending champions as they take on gritty Sweden in the second round of group stage at the 2018 FIFA World Cup. After the 1-0 shock defeat against Mexico, the Die Mannschaft need to change their attitude, and become ‘Germans’, that was embodied by aggression and typical clinicalness at one point in time.
Sweden, on the other hand, are coming off a 1-0 clean win against South Korea, a team that looked jaded in terms of ideas on the pitch. Sweden defended like a team and without the legend of Zlatan Ibrahimovic on the pitch, the Blågult can play with freedom, and can play fearlessly as a team.
In the only previous encounter between the two sides, Germany won 2-1.
Journalists all around the world termed Germany ‘indifferent’ during their match against Mexico, who broke them down with speed, concentration, and discipline. Joachim Low needs to scrutinize the main issue, and that is probably Germany’s overconfidence, that may have crept in the camp with the favourites’ tag and consistent victories.
Sweden must understand, though, that the World Cup holders have enough firepower up their sleeve to beat any team with style, panache and in a mechanical way. Thus, the Yellow-and-Blue will need to play out of the box, break Germany’s metronome (Toni Kroos and Mesut Ozil in particular), and will need to strike at opportunities they get, scarce as expected.
The starting XI for the favourites is expected to remain the same, with two tweaks. Jonas Hector is expected to take the field at the first whistle, if he’s recovered from the cold. Also, Julian Draxler may sit out for Marco Rues, a player who made the most after coming on against Mexico.
Mario Gomez, too, will be pushing for the No. 9 slot, with Timo Werner’s off-the-ball running making weak noises. Otherwise, in Kroos, Khedira, Mueller and Ozil, Germany looks set to control the midfield again. Joshua Kimmich, too, needs to leave less space behind him whenever he explodes to join his country-mates in the attack.
Sweden, on the other hand, weren’t loudly obvious against South Korea, but showed determination and the right application to eke out the 1-0 win. Captain Andreas Granqvist scored the penalty, and while open scoring chances might not come regularly, the Janne Andersson-managed side knows to play out the defensive game well.
Marcus Berg and Emil Forsberg play key roles for the Swedes, and the pair will be expected to hit Germany hard with their guile and smartness off-the-ball. Forsberg, though, needs to be moved a little more centrally to help the Swedish side gain control of the ball.
The match will be played at Fisht Stadium, Sochi. Recently built, the stadium has a capacity of 44,287 and is named after Mount Fisht.
Olsen; Lustig, Jansson, Granqvist, Augustinsson; Claesson, Larsson, Ekdal, Forsberg; Berg, Toivonen
What To Expect
After a hiccup, Germany can be expected to come out all guns blazing against fellow European side Sweden. Joachim Low and his side boasts of heralded success and will not bow down to one defeat, and Sweden must understand that as well.
Meanwhile, Sweden will sit back, absorb, and hit on the counter or on set-pieces. Another team-effort in the offing.
Khel Now Predicts
Germany 2-0 Sweden