Germany vs Mexico
The second match on Sunday at the World Cup features the reigning world champions.
Will Germany retain the World Cup in Russia this summer?
The Germans start their campaign with a tricky test against Mexico. El Tri are known for getting out of their World Cup groups, only to exit the competition in the second round.
The other countries in the group are Sweden and South Korea, who play on Monday.
Germany’s poor form
Germany’s World Cup preparations have not been the best by any means.
Prior to a win against Saudi Arabia in their final warm-up game, Jogi Low’s side were winless in last five matches.
The run included back-to-back defeats. A 1-0 home defeat to Brazil could have been forgiven, but Germany then lost 2-1 to Austria.
No Mesut Ozil, no Ilkay Gundogan
Yet the far bigger issue for the Germans has been the backlash against Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil and Man City’s Ilkay Gundogan.
Both Premier League stars met with Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the build up to the World Cup.
That’s stoked plenty of debate in Germany. Should Ozil and Gundogan – both of Turkish descent but both German internationals – really have held that meeting on the eve of the World Cup?
German fans don’t think so. Man City’s Gundogan was booed by German fans during the Saudi Arabia friendly.
According to Bild, Jogi Low is expected to leave both Arsenal’s Ozil and City’s Gundogan on the bench for the Mexico game.
While Gundogan may have struggled to get into the team, dropping Ozil would be a huge call.
Bild believe that Marco Reus will start alongside Julian Draxler and Thomas Muller. Timo Werner will be the sole striker.
— Bayern & Germany (@iMiaSanMia) June 16, 2018
Writing for ESPN, Raphael Honigstein has also confirmed that Ozil is set to be axed for the Mexico game:
For the first time ever in Low’s reign, Mesut Ozil might not make the first XI in a tournament game. The Arsenal playmaker was “ready to feature” after his knee complaint, Low said at the presser, before immediately adding that he had “two or three ideas in his head” and not settled on the team sheet.
Sources have told ESPN that Low has been far unhappier with Ozil’s and Ilkay Gundogan’s conduct in the much-discussed Erdogan affair than he has let on.