World Cup defending champions Germany will be looking to retain their title with an opening fixture victory against Mexico
All eyes will be on defending champions Germany as they return to football’s biggest stage with all the potential to retain their title, seeking to begin their campaign with a victory over Mexico.
With a team that is as strong as the one that lifted the World Cup trophy four years ago in Brazil, Die Mannschaft will be looking to become the first country since Brazil in 1962 to be back-to-back champions.
Germany open their Group F account against Mexico at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow at 4pm BST (11 ET) on Sunday June 17, a team who have never progressed past the quarter-finals but will be looking to give the defending champions a challenge.
Though Germany – led by long-term manager Joachim Low – always field a consistently strong squad, the past three World Cup winners have fared miserably in the following tournaments, and they will be looking to avoid the ‘Champions Curse’.
Here is all you need to know ahead of the Group F fixture between the two sides.
TV Channel, Live Stream & How To Watch
In the United States (US), the game can be watched live and on-demand with fuboTV (7-day free trial).
New users can sign up for a free seven-day trial of the live sports streaming service, which can be accessed via iOS, Android, Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV, Roku and Apple TV as well as on a web browser.
In the United Kingdom (UK), the game can be watched live on TV on BBC or streamed live online using the iPlayer.
|UK TV channel||Online stream|
Squads & Team News
|Goalkeepers||Neuer, Trapp, ter Stegen|
|Defenders||Plattenhardt, Hector, Ginter, Hummels, Sule, Rudiger, Boateng, Kimmich|
|Midfielders||Khedira, Draxler, Kroos, Ozil, Goretzka, Rudy, Brandt, Gundogan|
|Forwards||Werner, Reus, Muller, Gomez|
The fact that Germany were able to leave out Mario Gotze – who scored his side’s tournament-winning goal in Brazil four years ago – as well as Manchester City star Leroy Sane, is a test to how strong they still are.
Timo Werner is expected to lead the line along the all-star likes of Thomas Muller and Marco Reus, with a strong midfield consisting of Toni Kroos and Mesut Ozil.
Potential Germany XI: Neuer, Kimmich, Boateng, Hummels, Rudiger, Khedira, Kroos, Ozil, Muller, Reus, Werner.
|Goalkeepers||Ochoa, Talavera, Corona|
|Defenders||Salcedo, Reyes, Moreno, Ayala, Alvarez, Gallardo, Layun|
|Midfielders||Marquez, Herrera, Dos Santos, Dos Santos, Guardado, Fabian|
|Forwards||Hernandez, Jimenez, Peralta, Corona, Vela, Aquino, Lozano|
Javier Hernandez is still Mexico’s star man to start up front despite a disappointing season at West Ham, and goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa will be looking to repeat his heroics in Brazil four years ago.
Potential Mexico XI: Ochoa, Salcedo, Moreno, Ayala, Marquez, Herrera, Jonathan dos Santos, Guardado, Giovani Dos Santos, Vela, Hernandez.
Betting & Match Odds
Germany are 4/9 favourites to win the match, with Mexico priced at 7/2 to win according to dabblebet . A draw between the two is placed at 6/1.
Germany’s side is one of the strongest in the entire competition heading into Russia, though even they may be susceptible to the ‘Champions Curse’ that has derailed the success of former winners.
World Cup 1998 winners France failed to qualify past the group stage in 2002, while Italy won the 2006 edition in Germany but also failed to advance from the group stages in 2010. Spain, who were champions in 2010, suffered from the same ‘curse’ in 2014 – when they were eliminated in the group phases by the Netherlands, who defeated them 5-1.
Regardless of taboo, Die Mannschaft ooze a limitless supply of talent even without the aforementioned absentees of Sane and Gotze. They are favourites at every World Cup they participate in and this year will prove to be no different task.
Before last Friday’s win against Saudi Arabia, Germany had not one an international fixture since their qualification match against Azerbaijan last October, losing to the likes of Austria and Brazil and drawing with Spain, but those games were merely a chance for Low to play around with squad rotation and tactics. The real test begins with Mexico on Sunday.
Despite claiming Germany’s recent form has been mixed, Kroos has been pleased with the attitude of the squad.
“That was not a fundamental criticism, but related to the game,” he told reporters after the Brazil defeat.
“Although we did not do some good things against Saudi Arabia, I had the feeling that everyone wanted it. You cannot criticise the attitude – and that will be the same at the World Cup.
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“We are aware that we still have to go a step further. But there is a lot of anticipation. We have often proved that we are there when it starts.”
Mexico will be participating in their seventh consecutive finals this year and have never progressed past the quarter-finals stage, and though have an experienced squad, could once again find difficulty in a group that also consists of Sweden and South Korea.
Ochoa became a worldwide phenom following his heroics in Brazil and will be hoping for a repeat performance, while they can also call upon the likes of Chicharito.