Abject opening defeat puts big pressure on champions


Incumbent champions Germany kicked-off their World Cup campaign in the worst possible fashion as a lacklustre performance from the side saw them succumb to a 1-0 defeat against opponents Mexico, whose dynamic performance saw Germany full far short of the quality they’ve delivered in past campaigns.

Now, significant questions must be asked within the set-up, if they are to turn around a campaign that is already threatening to derail.

Coming off the back of a round of World Cup warm-up matches that were far than flattering for the world champions – which included a narrow victory over lowly Saudi Arabia – the defeat is the latest in a trend of poor results for a team that look low on confidence.

The performance will come as a major concern to manager Joachim Low, whose disjointed side looked extremely vulnerable to the counter – even before Javier Hernandez punished them with the pass that set up Lozano’s goal.

The 22-year-old, who scored 17 goals in 29 performances across the 2017/18 season for Dutch champions PSV, cut inside and fire home passed keeper Manuel Neuer – just reward for a brave performance that saw him willingly drive at Germany’s defence time and again.

Toni Kroos almost delivered an instant response with a free-kick that tested Guillermo Ochoa, who just tipped the effort onto the bar – but that was the closest Germany came to an equaliser as they failed to create any meaningful opportunities as they dominated possession.

The likes of Plattenhardt and Hummels failed to live up to the levels they have set for themselves over the years, whilst Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil – who scored 44 points and four goals in a hit-and-miss season for the Gunners – was very much a peripheral figure for his nation.

Germany now go into their clash with Sweden in Sochi, knowing that anything other than a win would likely see them heading home early from the tournament.

Whilst you would still tip them as favourites in the fixture, securing the win will be a true test of their mettle.

However, the blueprint for testing the German team has now been revealed. With a team of seasoned professionals, it is feasible that Janne Andersson’s team could look to emulate the tactics that gave Mexico a shock victory that will go down in World Cup history.

Having reached the pinnacle of world football four years ago in Brazil, going home in the group stages would be treated as little more than a disgrace by their highly-expectant fanbase.

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