DEFENDING CHAMPIONS Germany are seeking their first points of the tournament against a stern Sweden side. Lucas Swain-Britton (@LucasSwain95) gives us his verdict.
Germany v Sweden | Saturday 23rd June 2018, 19:00 | ITV
Well, I certainly didn’t think I’d be writing this preview coming off the back of a Germany loss. Whilst I didn’t think Mexico would roll over for the world champions, I thought Joachim Low’s side would have enough to get the better of them.
The fact is Mexico outplayed Germany, and their tactical set-up was a large part of that. Germany are extremely reliant on big players to perform, which has obviously been the breeding group for success, but many players were swallowed by the match.
Toni Kroos was evidently highlighted as a key threat, as he could be frequently found with Hector Herrera on him, and Sami Khedira was simply woeful. Couple this with the beauty of exploiting the space behind Joshua Kimmich with Mexico’s best player in Hirving Lozano and it was a recipe for an upset.
Germany have reacted to the loss, whether it’s positive or not remains to be seen. Low’s side have left their base camp in Vautinki to the Russia Riviera ahead of their next match and held a crisis meeting.
Manuel Neuer admitted he hadn’t heard so many frank and bunt words exchanged throughout his tenure with the national team, so much so he arrived to a press conference 50 minutes late due to this meeting.
Mats Hummels made some comments following the Mexico game, that both he and Jerome Boateng are left too exposed on many occasions – something that was certainly true on Sunday afternoon. This is just one of the matters that was reportedly addressed.
Despite all of the problems and the result, it must be said Germany still offered a threat. Whilst that should be expected from the world champions, perhaps labelling that current situation a crisis is a tad far-fetched, but that may just be the Englishman accepting mediocrity in me speaking.
VAR introduction as this World Cup came with a cloud of curiosity, as any other introduction of the assistant referees has been poorly executed in England. They seem to have nailed it in the Bundesliga, and it’s going rather well at this tournament.
Despite the referees failing to spot Harry Kane being wrestled to the ground against Tunisia, it’s been relatively successful and Sweden are perhaps the side who have benefited best when Marcus Berg was awarded a penalty the match referee didn’t notice.
What will be disappointing for Sweden, despite the result, was the lack of impact Emil Forsberg had on the match. The RB Leipzig man is the best played in this side and with the South Koreans playing a deep 4-5-1 his influence on the left was not felt, even when he drifted inside.
The Swedish still managed to control the game, but this isn’t a luxury they’ll get against Germany and they’re not the most mobile side on the counter-attack. It will be difficult afternoon for Sweden.
The betting angle
Whilst Pontus Jansson slotted into defence well for the ill Victor Lindelof, the fact is Sweden had little to deal with due to South Korea’s xG of 0.51.
It’s expected Germany will made changes for this match, and I’d like to see Marco Reus and Leon Goretzka into the side. I suspect Julian Draxler and Khedira will be likely ones to lose out, but there’s a lot of noise for Low to reduce Mesut Ozil to a bench role, too.
Before even looking at the markets I had one bet in my mind I felt really confident in, that being Germany win to nil, but I was expecting it to be around the 4/5 mark given the scale of importance on this match for Germany.
However, much to my surprise, you can get above evens for this. I don’t expect this to be a high scoring match, as I can’t see Sweden creating much and Germany will simply refuse to allow the embarrassment of even flirting with group stage exit…surely.
Germany v Sweden – Germany win to nil (13/10 BetVictor)