The much-awaited World Cup 2018 started in goals galore on Thursday evening when the host nation Russia delivered an incredible show and registered a thumping 5-0 win against Saudi Arabia. The inception has already raised the expectations high and the title contenders are thriving to maintain their masterclass in the world’s most prestigious football event.
Reigning champions Germany are set to commence their title defence today when they take on Mexico in their maiden World Cup 2018 fixture. Joachim Low must be worried about his side’s recent form in pre-World Cup friendlies as they suffered back to back defeats against Brazil and Austria, only managing to clinch a narrow 2-1 victory versus minnows Saudi Arabia in their final warm-up tie before entering the main event.
The 2017 Confederation Cup winners, meanwhile, are likely to uplift their display as always when it matters the most and the amalgamation of experience, as well as youthfulness, will be decisive in their World Cup run.
Mexico too are not having a comfortable run in recent months but their manager Juan Carlos Osorio, known for his tactical excellence, will inspire the veterans to step up on this occasion and make it to the knockouts from a tricky group consisting Sweden and South Korea as well.
Tactics & Probable XIs
Germany have a star-studded squad and Low has struggled to find out the best combination so far. However, he is likely to field them in a 4-2-3-1 formation whereas their goal will be protected by the iconic Manuel Neuer who finally returned from his long-term injury.
Joshua Kimmich, Mats Hummels, Jerome Boateng and Jonas Hector are likely to be the preferred back-four who should be marshalled by Toni Kroos and Sami Khedira in central midfield.
Marco Reus is finally set to feature in his maiden World Cup campaign after shaking off injury fears and should be lined up in an advanced midfield role. He could combine with Thomas Muller and Julian Draxler from the flanks whereas Timo Werner must continue as the lone forward ahead of veteran Mario Gomez.
Guillermo Ochoa, Mexico’s 2014 World Cup hero, should continue as the No.1 between the sticks but the gaffer is yet to settle for a fixed formation and has experimented with the team set-up time and again.
A 4-1-4-1 against Denmark went wrong in their final warm-up game which ended in a 2-0 defeat. El Tri, therefore, might line up in a 4-2-3-1 pattern in order to be defensively solid. Edson Alvarez, Hugo Ayala, Hector Moreno and Miguel Layún must be their preferred back-4 option who should be shielded by Hector Herrera and Andrés Guardado in central midfield.
Carlos Vela and Jesus Corona should be handed a start down the wings whereas Jonathan dos Santos should operate as a midfield attacker. Although not in his best form of late, Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez should start as the No.9 due to his experience of the highest order.
Stats And Facts
- This will be the fourth World Cup meeting between these two sides. Germany remained unbeaten in previous three occasions – won the first two encounters and also snatched a victory in tie-breakers in their last outing back in 1986 quarter-finals.
- Mexico have won only 1 out of 11 meetings against Germany (D5 L5) which occurred back in 1985 in Mexico City. Their only meeting in Russia was the semi-final clash of the Confederation Cup last year which Die Mannschaft won 4-1.
- Germany have won their opening game in each of the last seven World Cups and have scored 20 goals altogether in their last four openers.
- Mexico are unbeaten in their last 5 World Cup opening games. Last time, they lost to Norway back in 1994.
- Only Brazil (21) have reached more World Cup finals than Germany (19).
- Rafael Marquez, 39, is taking part in his 5th World Cup finals – a record he now shares with Lothar Matthaus, Gianluigi Buffon and compatriot Antonio Carbajal.
Although the Germans are not in their best of forms, the World Cup has always been the stage where they have excelled majestically and the domination is likely to continue against Mexico. They must not find it difficult to clinch a victory.