THE Confederations Cup continues on Thursday and we asked international football analyst Mark O’Haire (@MarkOHaire) for his thoughts on the Group B encounter between Germany and Chile.
Germany v Chile | Thursday 19:00 | ITV4
Germany and Chile face-off in Kazan on Thursday in what is likely to be a crucial clash in deciding who finishes top of Group B.
Chile's tournament opener saw them struggle to break down Cameroon before late goals from Arturo Vidal and Eduardo Vargas earned them a 2-0 victory.
Pre-tournament favourites Germany, meanwhile, beat Australia 3-2, but it was a far-from-convincing performance by Joachim Low's young side.
A youthful Germany were certainly the dominant force against the Socceroos and could have made the scoreline more flattering had they been more clinical in front of goal. But Die Mannschaft were also ominously vulnerable defensively, with goalkeeper Bernd Leno enduring a particularly tough game.
Head coach Joachim Low said after the defeat of Australia that his side will need to step up a level and be much tighter at the back against a Chile side that boasts terrific dynamism and pace in their attack.
Germany could therefore revert to a back-four here as they bid to extend their 11-match unbeaten streak (W9-D2-L0). And at this point it’s probably worth noting that previous results and stats are more or less redundant with Die Mannschaft taking a virtual reserve squad to Russia.
World Cup-winning coach Low openly criticised the tournament and opted to use the opportunity to give his more established players a rest rather than fine-tune his team’s preparations for next summer’s more important battle.
Germany have selected a squad with no players aged 30 or over, while the two oldest players, the forwards Sandro Wagner and Lars Stindl have both won just two caps each. The most experienced player is captain Julian Draxler, who has only 31 caps.
Of the team who started the Euro 2016 semi-final against France, only four – Joshua Kimmich, Jonas Hector, Emre Can and Julian Draxler – have travelled to Russia, whilst 15 of the 21 squad members have played no more than 10 times for the seniors.
This will be a stern test for this young German side, and exactly the kind of challenge the coach and his charges were hoping for. But preparation hasn’t been ideal with one day less to prepare for this contest than Chile.
In contrast to Germany, Chile coach Juan Antonio Pizzi opted to take a strong squad to Russia with stars such as Vidal, Vargas, Alexis Sanchez, Gary Medel, Mauricio Isla and Charles Aranguiz all travelling.
There’s an experienced core to Juan Antonio Pizzi’s squad – 11 players boast more than 50 international caps – and La Roja have confirmed they want to go the distance having tasted Copa America success in the past two summers.
Playing at the Confederations Cup is a big deal for the Chilean public – three national TV stations are screening the games live and one was broadcasting from Russia at 7am on the day of the Cameroon game.
Chile should expect a much more open game against Germany than they encountered in their first match against Cameroon. La Roja dispatched the Africans in relatively routine fashion in Moscow and restricted the Indomitable Lions to only one shot on-target.
Pizzi will hope to have Alexis Sanchez fully fit to start after the Arsenal star came on as a second-half substitute against Cameroon as part of his recovery from an ankle problem. Sanchez has had a hand in 38 of 112 (34%) goals – scored 20, assisted 18 – in 61 competitive games for his nation.
The betting angles
La Roja are 8/5 (Bet365) favourites to topple the world champions and put themselves in the driving seat to top their group but a better selection may be to support the South Americans in the Draw No Bet market at 7/8 (888).
Both teams will be looking to take possession and harry their opponents into mistakes and this encounter promises to be one of the games of the tournament. Both Teams To Score is prohibitively priced but adding Over 2.5 Goals into the equation appeals at quotes of 17/20 (Coral).
Meanwhile, Vidal looks too big to ignore at 3/1 (Betfred) to notch for another for La Roja. Chile have scored in eight of their last nine matches and the Bayern Munich man now has three goals in his last four games for his country.
Vidal has 23 goals in 91 caps – a wonderful record from midfield – with 19 of his 23 goals (83%) arriving in competitive matches. He literally is the man for the big occasion.