Germany’s World Cup future is at stake ahead of a group stage meeting with Spain on Sunday evening.
After the dramatic defeat to Japan, Germany faces the prospect of losing consecutive games at the same World Cup for the first time since 1958. Playing under the guise of West Germany, Sepp Herberger was undone by hosts Sweden in the semi-final for France. claimed third place in the ensuing play-off at their expense.
Here is the XI that Hansi Flick can deploy to avoid a couple of defeats in much less impressive circumstances.
GK: Manuel Neuer – Germany’s goalkeeper has bizarrely ended his last two World Cup matches in the opponent’s half.
RB: Thilo Kehrer – Flick picked Niklas Sule for Japan’s winner (“Niklas has to watch out”) and could be tempted to drop the Borussia Dortmund defender in favor of Kehrer.
CB: Antonio Rudiger – Watch out for Rüdiger’s eye-catching recovery run, as he leaps across the field with his knees bent. Whether for show or speed, it certainly works.
CB: Nico Schlotterbeck As part of Germany’s starting eleven who staged an alternative protest ahead of the defeat to Japan, Schlotterbeck – when his mouth was not covered – recently said: “Football should be for everyone and open to everyone. It stands for diversity. “
LB: David Raum – In April 2021, Raum scored for Greuther Furth in the German second tier. Less than two years later, he is the starting left back of the national team at the World Cup.
CM: Ilkay Gundogan – “You felt that not everyone really wanted the ball,” Gundogan admitted scathingly, reflecting on his side’s second-half performance against Japan. That is certainly not the case for its Spanish counterparts. Half of Spain’s outfielders had more than 100 touches against Costa Rica.
CM: Joshua Kimmich – “You’re not good enough, your body isn’t strong enough,” was the feedback an 18-year-old Kimmich received when VfB Stuttgart’s first team rejected the teenager. Nine years later he is at his second World Cup.
AM: Thomas Muller – The former Arsenal centre-back Shkodran Mustafi scored more recently in a major tournament for Germany than Muller.
RW: Serge Gnabry – When Gnabry joined Werder Bremen, he was touted as the latest member of the family to make waves in the world of professional football. Statistics for his father mysteriously appeared, but Gnabry Jr. cleared up the rumours. “We could give him that honor, but that’s just not true.”
ST: Kai Havertz – Not content with labeling him an absolute number nine, Havertz’s former Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel compared him to three forwards. “I see a little Dennis Bergkamp, Robin Van Persie, [Dimitar] Berbatov kind of player,” he offered.
LW: Jamal Musiala – Musiala’s spectacle in full swing has been described as “a feast for the eyes” by Bayern Munich’s (admittedly biased) sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic.
Harry Symeou presents Scott Saunders, Grizz Khan and Jack Gallagher to look back at France ’98 as part of the ‘Our World Cup’ series. We’re taking a trip down memory lane – join us!
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