It is odd to talk about a slump in form when it comes to Germany. But since sealing qualification for Russia with a perfect record of 10 wins from 10 and a new joint European record of 43 goals (scored by 21 different players), they have won just one of six friendly games. That solitary success was a sketchy 2-1 victory over a Saudi Arabia side who have since been thrashed 5-0 by Russia.
Aiming to become the first country since Brazil in 1962 to win back-to-back World Cups, it has not been ideal preparation, but as midfielder Toni Kroos said this week: “We have often proved that we are there when it starts.”
A daunting task awaits, then, for Mexico, especially as they were hammered 4-1 by Germany’s B team in the Confederations Cup semi-finals last year. Led by quirky Colombian coach Juan Carlos Osorio, who is a divisive figure in Mexico, their experienced squad contains 13 players with over 50 caps.
Germany’s Mesut Ozil has recovered from the minor knee problem that caused him to miss their last warm-up match with Saudi Arabia.
Coach Joachim Low has a decision to make over whether Julian Draxler or Marco Reus starts on the left flank.
Mexico’s preparations for the tournament have been hampered by injuries to two key defenders.
Nestor Araujo was omitted from the squad after failing to recover from a knee problem.
Diego Reyes, meanwhile, was ruled out on Wednesday with a long-standing hamstring injury. He was replaced by midfielder Erick Gutierrez.
VIEW FROM BOTH CAMPS
Germany midfielder Toni Kroos: “Commitment, sacrifice, self-motivation and willpower — those are the key requirements of this Germany team.
“Everyone here is an elite player and the self-confidence we all have comes from having won something major before we go into a tournament.”
Mexico head coach Juan Carlos Osorio: “We are going to give everything we have and we have versatile players.
“Today there are players who play in other positions and they are doing well, which gives us the great possibility of having a plan B and even a plan C.”
- Mexico’s only win against Germany in 11 internationals (D5, L5) was in a friendly in June 1985.
- This will be the fourth World Cup encounter between the sides. Germany won 6-0 in the first group stage in 1978, 2-1 in the round of 16 in 1998 and they drew 0-0 in the 1986 quarter-finals, with Germany progressing 4-1 on penalties.
- Joachim Low is aiming to become only the second coach in history to win back-to-back World Cups after Italy’s Vittorio Pozzo in 1934 and 1938.
- Germany have topped their group at every World Cup since 1990 and have reached the semi-finals at the last four tournaments.
- They last failed to score in their opening World Cup match in 1978, drawing 0-0 with Poland.
- Germany have only won one of six friendlies since qualification finished (D3, L2).
- Mexico have gone out in the round of 16 at each of the last six World Cups. They have only ever reached the last eight on home soil, doing so in 1970 and 1986.
- This is Mexico’s 16th World Cup. Only Brazil, Germany, Italy and Argentina have qualified for more.
- Among the eight teams to have qualified for the World Cup at least 14 times, Mexico are the only side yet to win the tournament.
- El Tri haven’t lost their opening match at a World Cup since a 1-0 loss to Norway in 1994 (W4, D1).
- Mexico have lost only two of their last 17 group stage matches at a World Cup (W8, D7) – a 1-0 defeat to Uruguay in 2010 and a 2-1 loss to Portugal in 2006.