Germany have confirmed that they will begin their tournament without key talent Leroy Sane after he missed training through injury, with Hansi Flick set to be without the Bayern Munich man for their opening clash with Japan on Wednesday.
Die Mannschaft have been drawn in a tricky group, including fellow European giants Spain as well as Japan and minnows Costa Rica, and will be desperate to avoid heading out at the group stage for the second consecutive tournament after their embarrassment in the 2018 edition, where they exited without a win to their name.
Already without Timo Werner for the tournament, they began their preparations with a less-than-auspicious 1-0 win over Oman last week, a game in which Sane played 90 minutes.
Against Japan, however, Flick will have to look elsewhere, and it is as yet unconfirmed whether Sane will recover in time to take on Spain on Sunday in what looks a pivotal tie for deciding who will win Group E, and set up a potential clash with Croatia, while the runners up could face Belgium.
Fortunately, Germany are relatively well stocked in forward areas, with all of Serge Gnabry, Jamal Musiala, Thomas Muller and Julian Brandt having been used in wide areas for their clubs.
Nonetheless, the speed and technical ability of Sane, widely regarded as one of the best in Flick’s squad, will be sorely missed against Japan, who themselves are expected to be no pushovers.
Bigger questions surround which player will lead the line, with Kai Havertz the favoured option but Niclas Fullkrug enjoying a fine Bundesliga season and opening his account for Germany vs Oman last week.