When you hear the stat that three out of the last four World Cup winners have failed to make it out of their group, you almost feel that the Germany team is immune to such underachievement. However, after Die Mannschaft’s 1-0 loss to Mexico in their opening match in Moscow, they have now become at real risk of falling into the same fate that plagued France in 2002, Italy in 2010 and Spain in 2014. (Of course, the only exception in the last four editions are Brazil from 2002-2006.)
Germany played poor throughout the match, with Mexico consistently able to run at Germany’s back line. Germany’s expansive play could be seen by Kimmich who was playing as an auxiliary winger in the face of Bayern teammate Müller providing a lack of width. Sami Khedira has been wonderful for club and country since his 2010 World Cup campaign but at the age of 31, he simply does not have the legs anymore, especially when paired in a double pivot with Kroos, it only further highlights the necessity for the reigns to be passed down to someone else.
The biggest questions for Germany then, heading into their final two group matches should be who will be the partner for Toni Kroos? Choosing between Leon Goretzka or Sebastian Rudy. My pick would be Rudy given his superb season for Bayern whilst not as elegant as a Leon Goretzka, Rudy would provide a solid foundation for the German midfield in a similar way to Christoph Kramer four years previous. Additionally, another question is who should start as winger? Whilst it’s easy to see how this Germany team is screaming out for someone of Leroy Sane’s profile, he was not picked. Therefore, working with what they have, Marco Reus represents the best option on the left-hand side and I would even go as far to say that Julian Brandt should start instead of Müller, given how ineffectual the Bayern man is for Germany coming off the right.
Earlier in the day I had woken up to watch Aleksander Kolarov bend in an absolute peach of a free-kick in an otherwise impressive performance for Serbia against 2014’s surprise package and quarter-finalists, Costa Rica.
Whereas the later game saw heavy favourites Brazil fall short against Switzerland in a 1-1 draw. Philippe Coutinho’s magnificent opener was cancelled out by a Steven Zuber header. Switzerland continue their record of World Cup upsets, eight years after they beat Spain in the first match of the tournament in South Africa, in what remains the only side to lose the first game and go onto win the World Cup.
I’m off to get ready for England. I am currently torn between football coming home or a swashbuckling 1-1 display against Tunisia. I guess we’ll find out later.